Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Emma, Volume III, Chapter 4 (Chapter 40)

Oh, Harriet!

A few days after Frank Churchill saved Harriet from the gypsies, Harriet shows up at Hartfield with a small parcel that she wishes to dispose of. She has taken bits of detritus from Mr Elton and squirreled them away as treasures: a piece of court-plaister (trust me, the link is fabulous) and the worthless butt end of a pencil.

She is SO over Mr Elton. And his little wife, too. Of course, being Harriet, she is on to the next one . . . but I get ahead of myself a bit.

In the middle of the chapter, which falls during Harriet's recitation of the fascinating origin of the useless pencil stub she's about to burn, we find Emma focusing on Mr Knightley - what he said, where he stood, etc. Harriet, who was at the time focused on Mr Elton exclusively, cannot say for certain where Mr Knightley stood, but Emma sure knows. (Yet I still don't get the sense that she realizes the emotional significance of her own memories.)

And then, at the end of the chapter, we find Harriet is in love. Again. She doesn't say with whom, and Emma doesn't ask - presuming that it is Frank Churchill, who gallantly rescued Harriet, after all. And when Emma makes reference to Harriet's rescue, Harriet indicates that the man she admires saved her from perfect misery, transporting her to perfect happiness.

On the one hand, I commend Emma for remaining circumspect and not pressing for details and confidences. On the other hand, we all know that Emma the imaginist sometimes jumps to incorrect conclusions.

I hate to be gloomy, but this can only end in tears.

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