Friday, 25 April 2008

Jane Austen Quote of the Week – Week Two

I confess that I had some choices for the JA Quote of the Week, but eventually I gave up and stole the earlier quote I had installed in the blog before. It’s from my utmost favourite Austen hero, Mr. Knightley. Yes dear friends, you know what it is…

‘If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.’

(Emma, Penguin edition 1996, p. 403)

And I must say… though I fancy Tom Lefroy using that sentence to admit his feelings of Jane Austen (hence, my fan-fiction), I admit that Jane truly was observant towards human nature. She knew that when one truly loves somebody, one tended not to talk of it often. He/she would only confide said feeling within a very small circle, either out of respect to the person loved, or of fear that it might not be reciprocated, hence better to have it unknown to anyone.

I believe it, because Jane herself was like that. How many people suspected that she still harboured a certain feeling towards Mr. Lefroy? In her century, almost none outside her small circle of Cassie Austen, Henry Austen, Anna Austen Lefroy, Jemima Lefroy, and Thomas Edward Preston Lefroy. Nowadays, particularly starting in the 90s, the Jane/Tom theory started to be talked of often, but not before. And why was that?

Because Jane Austen adhered to what George Knightley said. And I truly respect her for that, for I understand the tendency of keeping one’s feeling in check within a very small circle when we are madly in love with someone, particularly when – like Mr. Knightley or Jane herself – the said feeling was unlikely to be returned. Of course, Jane made Mr. Knightley much happier than herself by allowing him to finally be together with Emma Woodhouse, the girl of his dream.

And how many of us still do what Mr. Knightley did? We love someone, and because of one thing or the other, do not let the world know, despite of the intensity of our feelings. Perhaps we are afraid that the feeling will not be returned; hence better keep a low profile. Or perhaps we are afraid to jinx it, hence better not letting anyone know about it. Or for other reasons. But it still arrives with one conclusion: George Knightley and Jane Austen were correct.

Pic: Emma/Knightley in my favourite version of Emma (1996); Gwyneth Palthrow as Emma Woodhouse and Jeremy Northam as Mr. Knightley


Anonymous said...

Lovely, dear Icha, and should you wish to put that phrase in context, please visit the Emma 'passionate passage' page at Male Voices here:

Passionate Passages of Emma

Ashton and I had a very good time collecting those passages for each novel. And there was your quote within those passages. As for Jane Austen, whatta writer!

Linda the Librarian

Michelle said...

Aw Icha, you just quoted my favourite line, from my very favourite propsal in print. Love!

I am sooo glad you chose this quote. I had never thought of it in a wider context before, so your comments are thought provoking. You're right - Jane's perception is uncanny (the more I think of it the more the mind boggles). It is beautiful to think of a love so big and true that no gesture (or speech) can contain it. Only two hearts that are in tune can understand it. Oh gosh, I love this passage.

Linda - thanks for the link! I will look it up now. Emma is magnificent.

Rachel said...

Excellent choice and analysis Icha. I think that when we feel such intense emotions such as love, it is stifling and can actually physically disable us from speaking about it. Perhaps the depth is so much that it is painful to talk of.
Or perhaps sometimes such wonderful feelings of love are better kept within- private and cherished, as in the case of Tom and Jane.

Rachel said...

Thanks for the link Linda