Mr. Knightley redux

A reader writes in response to the Emma paper:

Hi Rebecca,
I just read your report on Emma (I liked the pictures!). Did you not find it a little disappointing when Mr. Knightly in the end talked about his 'flaws', in correcting her so often? It seems he was a little sorry there for being so hard on her, when you could see throughout the whole novel that she deserved it!

What do we think of Mr. Knightley for acknowledging his "flaws"? Is he cowering to Emma? Is he less of a man for it? Think not! We all know Emma deserved Mr. Knightley's criticism and we do not fault him for his harshness toward her (if it may be called that). But if he had maintained his attitude of disciplinarian after she had repented, could we think so kindly of him? His concession shows not his weakness, but his compassion and benevolence toward Emma. His motive in reforming her character has never been one of superiority; rather, the motive underlying his position as her counsellor and guide has, all along, been love.

Image courtesy of Highbury Online.

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