In this episode I am joined by Carolyne @theaustenite to discuss Jane Austen's novel Emma, specifically focusing on the character of Mr Knightley.
Mr Knightley stands firm as many peoples favourite Jane Austen hero and it's not hard to see why he is kind, pragmatic and observant guiding our heroine Emma to become the best version of herself. So we thought we would look at detail at some of his actions and moments in which he really shines, and why we think he should be Knighted for his gallant behaviour.
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Izzy Meakin 00:00
This is the what the Austin podcast I'm your host Izzy and every episode I am joined by a friend and fellow Jay nice to chat about Jane Austen's work, please follow and subscribe both here on Instagram and on YouTube. It really helps the podcast grow and all your support means so much if you fancy going a little bit further. And once you join the Jane Austen discord chat and have access to extra content such as cheat sheets and early access to episodes, consider joining the Patreon and then become a full fledged member of the jnh hive. I just want to say a big shout out to all of my current Patreon members. You guys honestly keep the podcast going and I love all of our discussions on Jane Austen and the episodes but now let's get into this week's episode. I'm back with another character study today and we will be focusing on Mr. Knightley. So to discuss our generous, prophetic and practical hero. I'm joined by the wonderful Carolyn, also known on Instagram as the austenite. So glad to have you with me Carolyn,
thank you so much for having me. It's great to be here.
Izzy Meakin 00:58
I feel like Mr. Knightley is a popular heroes. This is the first time we kind of focus in somebody that a lot of people really love. So no pressure to move others. We do injustice.
I hope so. I think we will. We're fans.
Izzy Meakin 01:11
Absolutely. So a question that I asked all of my guests is what got you into Jane Austen originally
was pretty easy. It's one word, clueless. I saw the movie as a teenager. Loved it. It was beyond what I had expected. I thought it was going to be a comedy kind of making fun of teenagers in high school. But it was quite the reverse. I really related to the characters and their environment, even though I was not living in Beverly Hills. did a bit of internet research discovered Oh, it's inspired by a book by an author called Jane Austen never heard of her. Up until this point. My education had been in French institutions, so she was not part of the curriculum. In the meantime, I graduated, started college, went to the library, pulled out the book and was shocked to discover that Austin not only wrote about the region, Zeebo was from the Regency. At that point, I'd read a lot of Victorian literature, but going back a few decades was a bit intimidating. So I registered for the Jane Austen class. We started with Northanger Abbey, and the rest is history. I went ahead with a master's degree in 19th century British literature mostly to study her. And a few years after graduation started the austenite Yeah, and it's been wonderful to go from school where we could learn all the background on the novels, to Instagram where you can just like fan girl and fanboy over her novels, in as literary or as Sam like waves you want. So yeah, it's been it's been a long love affair since I was 17. And I don't think it will ever come to an end.
Izzy Meakin 02:55
I doubt it. I mean, Jane Austen is that is a love for life. I truly believe it.
I completely agree. Once you're in, you're in.
Izzy Meakin 03:03
That's amazing, though. And obviously, it's great. I love what you said about the fact that you know, there is a difference between studying Jane Austen and academic sense, but then having the freedom on like Instagram obviously me with this podcast, you're able to kind of like you said just fine girl, and you bring in the academic side of it, but also just you know, doing other fun things and looking at different I love on your Instagram in particular that you do a lot of your little your reels where you show like the locations that people have travelled to. And yeah, I just really love the way that you kind of showcase the contents of the books. It's lovely.
Thank you. I was basic questions like where is that? Exactly? And I'm like, I can make real then I'm just glad that so far. No one has said London isn't there. That's not where London is. I haven't made that mistake. So I hope any others like that's not Yorkshire. Oh, isn't it?
Izzy Meakin 03:55
Oh my gosh, that's so funny. And so I'm obviously actually excited to do this episode with you because Mr. Knightley is your favourite hero I believe. Oh, yeah,
I mean, he's my first hero. So I guess your first hero was always your
Izzy Meakin 04:10
favourite. Your first love Yeah, I feel like a good place to start then talking about Mr. Knightley is probably his initial description in the book. So Mr. Knightley is described as a sensible man about seven or eight and 30 was not only a very old, an intimate friend of the family, but particularly connected with it as the elder brother of Isabella's husband Isabella, obviously being Emma's sister. He lives about a mile from Highbury, and was a frequent visitor and always welcome. He's later described also as having a cheerful manner. So a nice guy, but what really stands out to me about his initial description compared to the other heroes is, you know, they already have this intimate connection they're already familiar with him and so as readers so away like we already accept him as this close person.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, he's he's already embedded in the narrative, there's no like, Oh, who is this man like we have with Mr. Darcy, he's, he's there. He's present. And he knows the family and they know him. And I think that will really be the basis of the entire relationship between him and Emma is the fact that they've known each other for so long.
Izzy Meakin 05:17
Yeah, I think the familiarity makes us more comfortable. I think to start with, like you said, There's no mystery there, like there is with Darcy, or even telling me like when he comes on the scene, you know, he's a stranger. Whereas this is a close family friends. So we already feel like we can trust him in a sense, which, which I think is is nice. And especially Wait a nice way to start a thing, because we know he's not he's not going to be the dodgy one. It's fine. We were already assured that he's a good guy.
Yeah, we pretty much know he's the hero. And we're okay with that. Because that won't be the point of the story.
Izzy Meakin 05:50
Yes, exactly. Exactly. And I thought it'd be good to look at, you know, the positive characteristics of Mr. Knightley. And I think the main one that came up first with me was the fact that he's so kind and considerate. So there's a later description within the novel that said, Mr. Knightley, always so kind, so feeling so truly considerate for everybody. And even though that comes like so close to the end of the novel, it really does show who he is for the whole of the book. He's always looking out for people who are less fortunate than him. And I think a really good example of that is the way that he treats Miss Bates and Jane Fairfax.
Absolutely. I mean, he's always thinking of them, you know, their situation in life, how he can help how can you know he can just improve whatever he can in their life, the apples the offering to run an errand in Kingston? You know, just being aware of Jane Fairfax's situation and how it affects them. He's really, he's really lovely for that, and I think it really makes his name appropriate. He is sort of a knight in shining armour in the most tangible way possible, doesn't mean need the grand gestures, offering a carriage to Jane and Miss Bates is probably the most nightly thing he could do. His kindness is really his defining quality. He has others but this is the one I think he leads with the most. I mean, Mr. Martin is his farmer, his tenant farmer, I mean, and yet he considers and describes his as a good friend. You know, and he tries to help him as much as he can. I mean, it's really lovely. He he helps Heriot Watt, a moment where in the book, she's going to be absolutely embarrassed, and he just comes in, saves the day by doing what nothing dramatic he just dances with her at a ball, but that that is his kindness. And I really, I think that's really appealing. Probably why people do like Mr. Knightley because of his general kindness to everyone.
Izzy Meakin 07:54
Yeah. And there's such a delicacy about the way that he does things as well as how grand you are that he's just like, like with the apples it was, you know, I'll get I'll get more apples to you. And he doesn't want to make a big fuss about it over the carriage. The only reason people knew is because they asked Miss Bates, like who brought you here and like, oh, the cake is missing, at least already sorted in, you know, MSS, that she's not surprised because that is just what he would do. But I love the point you made about Robert Martin as well. He is so considerate to the people that work for him. He's the same with William Larkins who comes up quite a lot, somebody who helps him out on his estate. And there's a really fantastic quote that I love, which comes later again, it's actually when it's confirmed that Robert Martin and Harriet are going to marry in he says, to enter his Rankin society, I would alter if I could, which is saying a great deal, I assure you, Emma, you laugh at me about William Larkins. But I could quite as elsewhere, Robert Martin, and I just think, isn't that so lovely? Like Mr. Knightley see so much potential in people that in a societal sense are, you know, have lower standing of lower rank, but he's like, You know what, that's not all that matters to me. These people are indispensable to me in my livelihood. Therefore, you know, I see, though, I'd love to be able to rise them to the same level as me like I feel like he, he really sees past like social standings and is able to move beyond that actually look at people's characters, and it wants to help people because they don't think he thinks that people deserve to be treated differently just because they're of lower standing. In fact, they deserve help and support from people who are just privileged.
Absolutely. And that's part of his argument against Emma helping Harriet because he feels she's not going to truly be helping her. He's actually going to be hindering her in her search for family stability marriage. But yeah, no, absolutely. And it feels very modern to me that he is this way. And yet he was written over 200 years ago. So I find that very interesting. That's something that comes across in Jane Austen's novels in general. There's always a sense of modernity And yet they are over 200 years old and I think are we misinterpreting the Regency? Or is it just that they're what we consider modern is just human nature and that we're seeing it in action. And I feel that with Mr. Knightley. Like, he was living in a pretty hierarchical society and yet he doesn't let that define his relationships with people. When Miss Beatty offers to go run errands to Kingston, his base is like, Well, no, but I know someone else did. He's like, they can do it themselves. What do you need? And I thought that was so thoughtful and aware. And just yeah, it felt like someone you'd know today would say,
Izzy Meakin 10:39
yeah, and even beyond that. It's just incredible characteristics to have like key like having somebody in your society he's so community based to be like, you know, what do you need? What help do you need in life? Like, you know, how can I help you? Like forget the other person that's able to sort of things to themself and he has such a focus on people I think so lovely. And even if like he says he can't raise people in society, like he, he very much wants to make them comfortable in the society in which they live, obviously, in Highbury. Yeah.
I mean, that extends to there's one line I'd never noticed before until I read it for this podcast. He's making changes to the land and Don will Abbey and he's changing the line, I think of a pathway and he says, but he doesn't want it to hinder people in Highbury. But basically, he's talking about his own land as far as I can understand it, but he doesn't want it to affect people in the parish next to him and I just what's not to love?
Izzy Meakin 11:36
It's so thoughtful, isn't it? Yeah, it really stands out. It really does. And I think obviously that that's the way that he treats people who are less fortunate than him but I also something that I love about Mr. Knightley is the way that he looks after Mr. Woodhouse Emma's father, like I knew this. There's kind of different opinions on Mr. Woodhouse, and him as a parents. For all intents and purposes. Mr. Woodhouse is an old man. Obviously, he's been through quite a lot. And he does struggle with you know, concerns about how his wife did die. And it obviously had a massive impact on the way that he approached his life and the concern he has for losing other loved ones around him. In one of my favourite scenes in the whole book is when they all go to the Randalls they all gather for that party, and John Knightley, he's honestly hilarious but an absolute pain in the bum at times starts fretting about the snow and terrifying everybody particularly Mr. Woodhouse. And in the novel, it states that Mr. Knightley who had left the room immediately after his brothers first reported the snow came back again, and told them that he had been outsourced to examine and could not and could answer for they're not being the smallest difficulty in their getting home whenever they liked it. And I love that. Like, I feel like Mr. Knightley knows Mr. Woodhouse, and knows his brother well enough to be like, right, I'll go check this out for myself. Like he's so practical. He's like, I'm gonna go outside, we're gonna see what it's like. And I'm gonna come back and I just love that, that he does that. And obviously, he says to me, then, you know, your father's not going to be easy. You probably should go. But it's just these little, you know, it's that it's that care that he takes. It's that foresight that he thinks, you know what, nope, this is gonna freak everybody out. I'll go and check that it's okay. And I'll be the, like the the voice of reason in the room.
Absolutely. I I love how he never seems to lose his temper with Mr. Woodhouse when everybody else, for the most part seems to like have a certain tolerance and then they're kind of like, oh, that that's enough. He truly is. I mean, they say what is He? He? He's a gentleman farmer, but he's also part of the local government. What did they call him?
Izzy Meakin 13:43
Yeah, he's like, I guess what's considered a parish counsellor.
And I think, yeah, that's a really good role for him within the whole book, too. He does that for his group of friends and acquaintances. He's also kind of the, the person overseeing making sure every one's okay, including Mr. Woodhouse, and taking steps to ensure that he is as okay as possible. biggest example of that. He wants to marry Emma. He's willing to live and his wives home in order to satisfy Mr. Woodhouse. Also to satisfy himself, he doesn't want to marry me. But even I remember seeing it in the movie because I saw the movie first before I read the novel. And I thought, yeah, they made that up for the for the movie. So when I read the novel, I'm like, Oh, my God, he really does it. And I just thought, wow, what? What a character because he says in the Who is it either. You always a man always wants to offer a woman a better home than the one she came from. And we know Don well Abby is a step up. So for him to be willing to perhaps go against what a man is supposed to want to do in order to serve Mr. Woodhouse, I think is really quite Amazing for that time period, but also just in general.
Izzy Meakin 15:03
Yes, absolutely. And I love that you brought up the earlier quote when he's like referring to other marriages and how men want to, you know, give women a better home than they come from. I love that. You mentioned that because I think it's really telling that Jane, like puts that in the book earlier, because then later I think it really highlights the sacrifice he's making by leaving dunwell Abbey, leaving his home his independence in a sense to come and move into Hartfield, which isn't his home he's not master at that house and he seems to not have the pride that I think a lot of men in the novel have like he like pee if you think of somebody like Mr. Elton who just seems very like kind of proud and a bit POM person cares about what people think. Mr. Knightley is totally past that. Like that doesn't bother him. He He's always putting other people first. I really do love that movie when he moves to Hartfield and I love that he like he's up all night thinking about this, like Emma's worried about it. He's worried about it. And he's like pacing around trying to work out a solution for it and eventually says Mr. Woodhouse taken from Hartfield. No. He felt it all not to be attempted. But the plan would have arisen on the sacrifice of this he trusted his Daris Amma would not find it any respect objectionable it was that he should be received at Hartfield that so long as her father's happiness. In other words, his life required Hartfield to continue her home, it should be likewise his. And like you said, I'm he, it's just an outstanding thing for somebody to do especially in that time, but I think just in general, I think it's just a really nice thing to put somebody put your partner's family first and think, you know, what do they need? What's going to make them more comfortable? I'm happy to uproot myself for the time being, you know, to make sure that they're happy.
Oh, yeah, no, I mean, even people in Highbury, they, I guess it's this Mrs. Weston that says, Oh, she knew a family who had done that and it hadn't last even a year. But But yeah,
Izzy Meakin 17:05
Mrs. Elton's comments, like, I think Mr. Elton's telling her as she as she goes on this feel about people that she knew and Maple Grove who tried it?
Yeah, I'm not sure I believe her on that. But it is, I guess, a surprise for people in Highbury to see that kind of quote unquote sacrifice but I think it is absolutely in keeping with Mr. Knightley his behaviour since the beginning.
Izzy Meakin 17:29
And he knows them well enough to know that that's the right choice because he is around there quite often, obviously, like walks there every day spend so much time with them anyway. I think he recognises that it'd be more, there'll be more probably be more problematic to move the ball to Dawn well and easier for him to just move into Hartfield. And again, he does always take the practical approach which I love. There's another instance where he's thinking of Emma's father as well and that's when they do the strawberry picking at dawn. Well, what I love about this is I think he recognises that Mr. Woodhouse, this fear of people becoming ill really just hinder what you can do in society. Like there's so often that people have to go and still see him or he always says like our drawl who will come and have dinner with it isn't, you know, I think Mr. Knightley is like, you know, as much as it hinders Mr. Woodhouse because he makes that choice and hinders Emma because she feels like she can't leave her father a lot of the time. And there's like a lovely quote. And I love this in the film as well. I'd like to talk about that. But it says Mr. Daly had done all of his power for Mr. Woodhouse, his entertainment, books of engravings, drawers of medals, cameos, corals, shells and every other family connection within his cabinets have been prepared for his old friend, Mr. Woodhouse had been exceedingly well amused. And I just think Isn't that so lovely like to go to the effort and I love that in the films as well when he's got all like his little trinkets out and Mr. What else is like a magnifying glass like looking at each of them and I mean, I go more after 2009 BBC adaptation but I just love that I think that's that's just so thoughtful and it means so much to me because it means that she has a bit of freedom for the day he's entertained. He stays in Mrs. Western and she can kind of live her life and I think Mr. Knightley is a really good mediator for that.
Yes, and I I've always read that as almost Mr. Knightley by now sort of trying to court Emma through her father in that scene like he's always take care of him so we know he would have done it but he really wants Mr. Woodhouse to come. Not just Emma which he could probably convince Mr. Woodhouse to let her come. He wants Mr. Woodhouse to come to and I feel it's like, come see my home. I can make it comfortable for you. I really feel that that is part of his either conscious or unconscious courtship of Emma in that in the way he treats her father at that moment, but yeah, and then this is Weston comes in. And she's tired, like on purpose so that he has someone and Emma can be free and it's just It's so lovely to see that. Who knows maybe Mr. Knightley and Mrs. Weston discussed it beforehand, I would not be surprised. They are the same age we may forget. They seem to know each other and be comfortable with each other. So, yeah, it's just it's so nice. And I always feel there's that extra dimension going on at the same time. So the kindness and the willingness to do that in order to please me is just even. Oh, it's just magnified.
Izzy Meakin 20:24
Yeah, I totally agree as well. You just say in that you thought, you know, it's a way of like caught in ever kind of secretly. I guess it's absolutely the case because the invitation for the strawberry picking doesn't come long. But after he makes that comment to Mrs. Elson that he's like the only person who could invite the women they want to Donald Mrs. Knightley. I love that moment so much.
It is like one of my favourite in the book every time it comes up. I'm like, here it comes like oh, and in the movies when they do include it. It's just so it's like that moment of like, who's gonna be Mrs. nightlight?
Izzy Meakin 20:59
I love it. I know and I love that he's he's so good at dealing with people who are on like the daftar or just real extreme side like Mrs. Elton is I mean, she'd be so annoying to be around the fact that she doesn't give up. I think Mr. Knightley is really good at just like shutting down a conversation without getting angry or annoyed. Like he could do it in such a calm way.
Yes, it's like it's not rudeness. But it could be if anyone else did it. I think yeah, that conversation when he's outside and like they're talking through a window and he just keeps like redirecting or redirecting or, like, I would say he's probably quite patient ultimately. And yeah, really lovely in that sense. And it's so surprising that his brother, on the other hand has no hesitation to tell people in the worst way possible sometimes exactly what he feels. Yeah.
Izzy Meakin 21:53
Oh my God, John Knightley. So bad. Maybe Mr. Knightley has had to overcompensate because it's been so crazy. It's like, gosh, you don't need to have as doing this.
I do like him though. Like you feel. I feel like he's the the introvert who likes his home, his stuff, his family, and that's about it. And I'm like, I get that. But he shouldn't always tell people how you're feeling.
Izzy Meakin 22:15
I know. It's so funny. And he feels the need to freak people out all the time. It's so funny. He's not Yeah, he's not shy of putting his feelings and thoughts across. But I think like part of the conversation we were having that we kept coming back to kind of the practicality of Mr. Knightley and the fact that he's non flamboyant, which I think it's another really great quality of his, there's actually a quote that says that Mr. Knightley who had nothing of ceremony. So like, I think Austin makes a point of saying, you know, this isn't somebody who's like, you know, really flashy. And putting it all out there. I mean, he walks to Highbury constantly, like very rarely rides, but if he does ride, he rides over getting the carriage. And the only reason he takes the carriage out is to help other people. And I think he's just for somebody that is quite well off. He he lives a very minimalistic lifestyle and you know, only lives through his to his means, which I think is also quite refreshing. Especially considering out of all of the books. This is the one where we're exposed to the most wealth in terms of like we see it from the heroine as well. And whereas usually, you know, we've got the kind of the wealth dynamic, it's like one poor person, one richer person, whereas here, obviously, we're surrounded by people who have got more money. So I think it's quite refreshing to have Mr. Knightley not pompous and flamboyant.
Absolutely. And I wonder if he's not he is that way in order to contrast him different Tuta you know, who goes to London to get a haircut? We all know was to buy the piano, the haircut was the excuse. But still, I think he is meant to stand in contrast to him, to a certain extent, although Frank Churchill will be quite wealthy. He's not living, possibly within the means he has at the moment. And I think that's, that shows. But yeah, Mr. No, I mean, he even says at one point that he doesn't, he doesn't cut down a series of trees. The quote is something about for he would neither fashion nor extravagance had routed them up. So he's not going to, you know, do stuff like that just because it's in style. You know, I really get a sense of him being a steward of his land, and not someone obsessed with him and because he also I think he always walks around in his gators, which apparently a gentleman would not do, but Mr. Knightley does because I think he's just very comfortable also in himself and who he is and what He is, which is also very attractive.
Izzy Meakin 24:56
Yes, I think he benefits from age and the wisdom Let's come with that and I had just happy with himself that this is just the majority there that is very attractive. I love what you saying about his like stewardship because yeah, I think he is absolutely about that about his estate about the town about the community. He has this sense of being the carer, the protector, the, the nurturer of like everything and I love that. I think that's, you know, really, really lovely. In another thing that they bought you brought up then was that was the piano situation when Franklin who got the piano, and I think it's really interesting that Mr. Knightley seems the only person that goes on a practical side. This isn't a great gift. And I love that he points out like He's not shy to do that. Obviously, it also clarifies that he wasn't the one to buy it. But I love that he's like, this is a really stupid gift because like she's got to leave to view a governess or something. And it's massive and they live in a tiny little house.
Yeah, I mean, you get the grand gesture part. But Mr. Knightley is like no, no, like these do not. This is not help the situation, you know. And even at the end, which Jane is planning on going to miss suckling, she has to figure out what she's going to do with the piano and it is mentioned, she'll have to ask the Campbells to figure it out for her. Because he saddled her with this huge thing that she can't do anything with, other than play it in wherever it is.
Izzy Meakin 26:21
Now. Exactly. And it's not like Miss Bates is going to do it all at the ultimate Mrs. Bezos isn't going to do anything with it. And I think Mr. Knightley goes as far as to call it like a boyish scheme. And I think it's one of his hints towards like he thinks that obviously, it's I don't know if there's certain things It's Frank, but he thought it was like some sort of like, lover or what you thought it'd be somebody young because he said like, here is a boyish scheme. This isn't somebody who's got the benefit of age realise that this is not practical and a bit stupid. It's somebody who's gone gone off kind of in a, in a state of, you know, flamboyance has been like, Oh, you're doing a grand gesture of love and I'm gonna find this piano. But Mr. Knightley kind of see straight through that and I don't think he's won for gifts. So really, anyway, unless it's something that's kind of that is practical, but it's going to make such a massive difference, like the apples that he gives me space. That's not a massive gift. But look how like excited and happy she is about that. And he's willing to give the last of his apples like I love that Austin makes a point of that. Like there's no there's none left for like Mr. Knightley is like a favourite pie or something. I love that she she notes that Mr. Knightley doesn't say that because for him, I think he recognises that he's much more privileged than people like Miss Bates. And you know if you can give the last few examples Yeah, that's the least he can do.
Yeah, he'll get more you know, next year, the Bates is might need that food basically just need sustenance now, and I love that he is aware of that I love also that he has the relationship with William Larkin that William Larkin can like, let people know, by the way, those were the last of the apples. Like he clearly hasn't created this environment where his staff for want of a better word feel stifled and that they have to be secretive and not say anything. He just goes like, yeah, and then later on, like, yeah, he's been making me wait, he walks away now when I'm talking to him. And I love that he feels like he can say that to the population in hybrid, because clearly Mr. Knightley, he's not worried about tails being told because, you know, he lives a good, upright life. And that's fine. You know, he's not going to lord it over other people telling me the endless sometimes, but he thinks that's for the best.
Izzy Meakin 28:32
Yeah, I think that's so true. Like, I feel like he's the perfect example of how to be a good manager. The way that he treats his stuff is like amazing, in the end, to the extent that he trusts him so much like obviously, Robert Martin goes and asks his advice about his marriage, and he takes like a basically a business plan. Like, this is what its gonna look like, this is the budget for a wife, like what do you think? And obviously, Mr. Knightley looks over and gives him like solid advice back but, you know, I can imagine at the time, there will be few employers that you'd have that connection with, like, basically, what is his superior to go to them and be like, Look, this is my plan. What do you think of it shows a real marked, you know, intimate relationship between him and in the people that work on the site?
I mean, he describes him as a good friend, not just like, oh, you know, he's a good acquaintance. He's a good friend. And I think that says a lot about him. Something also I tried to figure out the book and current is that clearly Mr. Knightley has lost both of his parents. What at what time? Because if you get the sense from it, that he's been on his own, perhaps his whole adult life. And I think maybe that explains his instinct to take care of others perhaps being on his own. He turns that around and takes care of the community around him instead. And I wonder it because Yeah, there's no sense that his parents were ever around in the novel, which they must have been at some point. But, you know, was he 18 When he, you know, became heir to the Dhanraj lobby?
Izzy Meakin 30:10
That is so true, you know that that I've never actually thought about that. But that is actually true, because you think, I mean, I would say he probably has been on its own for quite a long time. Because the way that he he's so comfortable by himself, the way he wasn't really concerned about marriage, like he's just doing his own thing. And the way that he, like you said, looks after the community, I think would state that this is something that he's really developed, like, he's really developed his character over a long period of time. And I think if you don't have necessarily support network, you'll do that much faster. And I think the fact that you spend so much time at Hartsfield with the word houses as well shows, you know, he's he's kind of got that the the kind of substitute family.
Yeah, that's it. And I think that's what comes across, even in that first chapter, I think, where he just shows up and he, you know, he's been there and who cried the most, you know, it really feels like a family member coming back. It doesn't feel like you know, the proper Regency interaction where you bow to everyone, there's no bowing here, you know, that he just walks in, he sits down and he's, he's part of the family. And yeah, I think he's definitely made the wood houses because of the marriage of his brother to Isabella Woodhouse, but also, I think, because he just feels at ease with them. And, you know, they're there next door, and they welcome him like family.
Izzy Meakin 31:31
Yes, this is something that I actually love about the novel as a whole, I feel like it does feel very cosy and open, and everybody can be friends. And, you know, it's like this small town and it doesn't matter who you are in social standing. Everybody's just friends, and they do everything together. And you know, out of all the novel novels ever is the novel that seems to have the kind of niceties or polite politeness of the other books, where is all this bow in introducing yourself, and we see that a lot obviously in in Northland, with bath and you're having to be introduced to people and obviously, in Pride and Prejudice, so we get the new comments with Darcy and Bingley, and I feel like it never it's quite different at all or new people come. It's very established that they were already people of Highbury, or initially anyway, like, they've gone away and they've come back it's like everybody's kind of this close knit community the only outsider really is Mrs. Elton. And gosh, she stands out anyway. So
it shows it really shows even Mr. Elton until his marriage I was safe feels like he's part of the community. And once he marries it does feel like he's pulled out slightly there's no sense anymore also that he's truly friends with Mr. Knightley whereas before you got the sense that they were friendly it wasn't Mr. Martin level friendship but this seems to spend time together
Izzy Meakin 32:51
I think I think I've asked him describes it as like an advisory friends it seems like a lot of people go to Mr. Knightley for that but it seemed that Elton used to go to Knightley for kind of advice and I believe they were I mean I'm calling it the parish council because that's tends to be what we call it nowadays but it's the I think they're on the parish council together or something I think it's like them too and Mr. West and also you know, the usual role of a parish council together so they kind of it's probably more friendships more in a professional sense but gosh, there's Mrs. Elton after keeps really not nightly night the bill drives me up the wall I've got I got white lines Mr. Rove it's honestly bizarre.
I love that just reading it. You're like, Can we skip this part? Annoying,
Izzy Meakin 33:36
literally, and I feel like we all have such a connection to Mr. Knightley that we're all like knightly like who the hell do you think you
all I mean, even Emma does not call him anything other than Mr. Knightley. So, you know.
Izzy Meakin 33:52
Another characteristic of Mr. Knightley is personality that I'd like to talk about. He seems to have such foresight on all matters of society. And time and time again, he's proven right it's actually quite astounding. It's there's almost psychic. But the novel does say that Mr. Knightley had spoken prophetically and that's when it's talking about like the fact that Emma probably wouldn't be a great friend for Harriet. But I feel like that plays for the whole of the novel. There's so many times when he says stuff that actually comes to pass. Obviously he says he has the argument one argument but the converse the debate with Mrs. lesson about the friendship between Emma and Harriet and he says it'd be a bad thing he says, I think the very worst sort of companion that Emma could possibly have. She knows nothing of herself and looks upon Mrs. Knowing everything. And obviously this comes about and I love Emma's kind of reflection on it later where she realised that she's like, oh, gosh, you know, Mr. Knightley thought this would be a bad you know friendship and it is kind of ruled out to be that way. I mean, I I have fought so I've obviously I've done another episode on the Harriet Smith situation but um There are times when Emma isn't the best friends for Harriet because I feel like what how where Harriet ends up is probably similar to where she would have ended up. Had you not been without this you just have to go on a hell of a journey because I've ever said and there's a few more instances as well. Obviously the Ellison situation. I mean he tells Emma that Elton's not going to be a suitable match for Harry's as depend upon it alto will not do. Ellison is a very good sort of man in a very respectable vicar of Highbury, but not at all likely to make an imprudent match. He knows the value of a good income as well as anybody he may talk sentimentally, but he will act rationally is that I've got so much insight and foresight, it's honestly blows my mind.
Yeah, no, absolutely. And this is a great example of they say Austin never writes two scenes between men because she doesn't know how men talk to each other. So we need Mr. Knightley to come in and say, You know what, I've heard him talk. And this is not going to happen. You see one side of him? I've seen the other it doesn't match trust me. And yeah, I love that. Because yeah, he has that insight. And I think once again, comes back to being a steward or kind of the overseer of Highbury. He observes, you know, and he, he analyses and then he comes up with, you know, conclusions he does it with. He's the only person in the whole of the town to realise there's something going on between Frank and Jane. Like, every time I read, I'm like, oh, yeah, he did figure it out earlier, like I forget. And then I read them like, he's good. But in that scene, he's basically just observing them. He's not interacting. And I think that's where his power comes from. He just observes people. Yes, I
Izzy Meakin 36:47
love that. And I feel like that comes on to something that we were chatting about. Like, before we were recording the episode, that he is kind of, he's actually in less of the book than you realise, because he spent so much of it kind of been in the background observing, and you only realise he's in the scene because he says maybe one line randomly, or somebody mentions that he's across the room or something. But I agree, I think that he spends a lot of the novel observing the situation and because of that, he has so much more insight than most people do, obviously of Ellison because he's got this I love what you said, I never realised that that she doesn't write men like male to male conversations, because she doesn't know what that would actually look like or be like, I have never heard that never see. Honestly, I'm mind blown. And I feel like that was a whole topic in itself that I need to talk about. That's so awesome. But I love that yeah, you're so right. It's good to have a male perspective on Mr. Elton because so far we've only seen it through Emma and Harriet's lens, obviously men are going to act differently around women. Obviously Mr. Elton likes Emma so he's going to act even more differently because of that. But I love again what you're saying about the chain and Frank situation like he is the only person to recognise something fishy going on and you can tell because he sat there like observing the whole situation and he notices well he says I have lately imagined that I saw symptoms of an attachment between them certain expressive looks which I did not believe meant to be public. And I'm like can you imagine like Mr. That he's just there like he notices all these like things between them and I feel like because I have actually read the book from the stance of the Jane and Frank situation to try and see if there was clues before in there are times where I Frank isn't discreet about it like he really just try and make Jane uncomfortable at times and he is a little bit more obvious like sometimes when he's like a load like goes alone with like the ball. He takes it to the like often a courier and stuff. Yeah, only Mr. Knightley is there like watching like there's something a bit off here. And obviously, I think he benefits from the fact that he's got feelings for Amory and he's worried that Frank's kind of playing Emma or something.
But I love that he
Izzy Meakin 38:51
voices that as well that he's like, look something like it's becoming more and more obvious to me. Like I know no one else has seen this, but I don't like Do you realise the degree of acquaintance?
Yeah. And then Emma's like, oh, no, trust me. I know. You know, you know, nothing. I might you haven't done anything since the beginning. And we love you for that. But, you know, it's funny. I love that Emma actually acknowledges every time he's right. You know, but on the other hand, Mr. Hanley acknowledges every time Emma was right. Ultimately, he acknowledges that Harriet is much more interesting of a person perhaps or more worthy than he thought. He acknowledges you know that she had chosen better for Mr. Elton than Mr. Elton ultimately chose for him. Yeah, I think it's, it's really great. But, Mr. Knightley, this early is awesome, man. He's awesome in so many ways, and he's awesome. I would say also for being imperfect himself. He observes Frank and Jane but he's jealous. So his reason for observing them is not you know, it's not pure any Yeah, and he else to that later and I love that about him.
Izzy Meakin 40:03
Yeah. I feel like his whole his whole thoughts on Frank throughout the whole novel is so funny because he literally hates him throughout like he's like Mr. Knightley he loves everybody has such a hatred for Frank Churchill it's so funny. And every time he talks on him it's so negative and that was just like, like God like why why do you despise him so much? This is so extreme,
to the point where she actually saw it like she argues against her own opinion with the piano. She also thinks that they have cut I think she thinks is like, a bit extravagant. But Knightley Mr. Knightley is so against it that she's like, well, I'm, I'm arguing the opposite side then because you know, you have no reason to be this irritated by it. He dislikes rank before he even meets rank.
Izzy Meakin 40:46
Yeah, what he says is writing styles bad or you know, if he if he cared enough about his father, he would do his duty is he?
Yeah, but he has, you know, he then criticises Emma for not liking Jane, who she's known on and off for a few years. That's like, you haven't even met him.
Izzy Meakin 41:04
Oh my gosh, it's so funny. And I feel like this is why I just love them as a couple. Because I feel like we don't get to see this very often. I mean, we do a little bit with Darcy and Elizabeth, because Elizabeth is willing to stand up to Darcy and kind of bicker with them a little bit. But I love that we see it so much with Mr. Knightley that they're able to have these debates and have difference of opinions, but also able to reconcile so well. I just think it's, you know, I mean, that's what, that's where you want to live from a partner, isn't it? You know, you're not going to agree on everything. But you want someone that's, you know, accepts when they're wrong, and you can accept when you're wrong, and but also, you're able to reconcile and move on, even if you still hold differences.
Yeah, they definitely challenge each other, which I love. She challenges him just as much as he challenges her and that scene where they're discussed, you know, that men only want a pretty face. And Mr. Gnarly is like, oh, no, you know, men of sense do not want silly wives. Love that line. Also thought it had been invented by the scriptwriter when I saw the movie, and I was thrilled to see it was in the book. He does that I mean, I think also something that I really do it out in my reread was that he he acknowledges Emma's pretty mean even beautiful, but it's her mind. He always turns it back to her mind, her quickness, her wit. And even there he shows that that he favours brains over beauty at a time where I think Emma isn't wrong and saying, you know, don't think men one pretty woman. And I love that about him. That's what another thing I think makes him seem so monster. But perhaps not. Perhaps there have always been men who have favoured that.
Izzy Meakin 42:55
Go Absolutely. I love that so much as well. And he always makes the comment of how Emma and Isabella are similar, but Emma is kind of got the, the better mind and you know, she's more witty and she's kind of you know, she's got a little bit more substance than Isabella does. And he recognises that. And I love it as well what you're saying about them challenging each other. There's a great line that says Mr. Knightley, in fact, was one of the few people who could see faults in Emma Woodhouse and the only one who would ever who would ever told her of them. And I just looked that because you wouldn't want a partner that only saw the good to you. You want somebody that's going to point out your flaws and say to you, like, you know, I love you. Are you a bad person? Like, look, you did this wrong. And I feel like he he's always trying to make me the best version of herself that she can be. And I think Emma keeps missing it on his toes and makes him I feel like he could probably quite easily get stuck in his ways and his own way of thinking if it wasn't for Emma constantly, like challenging him open up to other thoughts and maybe making them a bit more youthful, in a sense. I think although one of the probably the main situation where they they kind of fall out in Mr. Knightley school to me is the MySpace situation. And gosh, does Emma feel this hard? Like when he obviously kind of tells her off for this? It's that's a tough scene because you're like, oh my gosh, like they I mean, it's a testament to how close they are because I mean, what relationships do you have someone that you're not already with? you're that close with? That somebody that could turn around to you and kind of speak to you the way that Mr. Miyagi speaks to Emma.
It's almost like they're a couple already. And they have been for a while. They just don't realise it, which I love. But yeah, no, they're they're definitely have that level of as Jane Austen would say, intimacy, that they can do that and then he can tell her exactly how Um, what she's done wrong, why it's so wrong and what she needs to do to to be a better person. And I love that both of them despite their faults, I think, love each other because of them. One of the things I personally anyways really like about their relationship, but yeah, oh, that Box Hill. I can barely read it now I've read it a few times. I skip over it now, because and I can't bear it in the movies. It's always well done in the worst way possible. Thank you feel so bad. Yeah, clueless does it in a way that you just gloss over, which is fine. But all the others really go for it. And it is horrible.
Izzy Meakin 45:47
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And it breaks your heart. Because that movie, you think, Oh, my gosh, is he you can just tell that he's disappointed in me, because obviously, he loves her and he doesn't want her to act in a way that he thinks is just like so. But I think he thinks it's completely out of character, which I think a lot of it is the influence of Frank that it wasn't. I think she just got caught up in it and said something that, you know, she obviously wouldn't have said in hindsight, but I think it just really does bother. I mean, obviously then that leads on to the really romantic scene where he takes her hands and he like presses it and he goes to kiss it, but then doesn't. Oh my gosh, isn't that such a swoonworthy? Like moment that honestly gets me every time when that happens. I'm always like, Oh, he's like not getting to the end was just like, like me as well. I've just carried on if you're just gonna start how uncomfortable
Yeah, it's one of my like, in all of Austen's novels, like one of my favourite romantic moments that are ultimately romantic, but they feel like so momentous, but yeah, I mean, Bazzill happens Mr. Knightley. He's like, he leaves for London the next day, and it's only MSA or Mr. Woodhouse saying Oh, Emma went to see his bases. He's like, like, and then that gesture almost happens. I Yeah. But I do agree. Mo has definitely been led on by Frank Churchill. And I think that's part of the reason Mr. Knight is like, I'm out. Like, I need to leave but then he comes back in the rain to see if she's okay.
Izzy Meakin 47:14
I know in this conversation that he has them I think is a real testament to that he truly loves me because I feel like if somebody is willing to put aside their feelings for like their own feelings, to make sure you're okay even if you love somebody else, I feel like that is the truest sense sentiments of like somebody really loving you. Because he doesn't he's not looking for something like his own. I'll try to say like he's not looking for something himself. Like he doesn't want his own do I mean, he's not looking for a ward or like thinking oh, this is a great situation for me Frank's out. Like he's worried about Emory says time My dearest Emma Time will heal the wound. And he's really sad for it because he's really concerned that she was like, madly in love with Frank and you're Frank such a villain as he says. But I just think that's so lovely that he doesn't he's not looking for his own success. If it was at the dispense if it was at the expense of Emma's happiness he wouldn't want it.
Exactly. And that goes back to him being always mindful of others thoughtful looking to help wherever he can but yeah, no I love that I love the in the rain to like even Ms. Like you must have had a wet right he's like,
Izzy Meakin 48:30
I know I love the Jane mentions the fact that he was like travelling in the rain. Like he left first thing in the morning, I got the
letter, I think he says he got the news and left which is reminds me of Captain Wentworth leaving Edward Ferrara when he gets his letter leaves immediately, I think, you know, it's a theme in Austin, but I think the Mr. Knightley version of it is like the best one in my opinion, because of the circumstances he just rides back he's not going to propose whereas the other two kind of have that in the back of their mind, and he does it in the rain. You know, like so
Izzy Meakin 49:09
true. Mr. Knightley, such a man of subtlety as well like this is actually quite a grand gesture for him just to be like, I'm gonna go in the rain. And I'm not I'm not going to gain any further from this, but I need to be there forever. Is it more of a romantic movie that like he doesn't go with any intentions? And maybe
I think it can be anytime it's just so realistic, I feel it becomes more romantic. You know, that's why the grand gestures for me Don't work so much. But this you know, and he doesn't mention it was in the rain. She's the one who said well, it rained this morning. You must have had a wet writer. And then he the you get a line. I think a few pages later saying yeah, he had written in the rain to reach her. And he we know he's probably on horseback. He's not wet, and he's alive and I love it.
Izzy Meakin 50:00
I know it's amazing. And there's something really discreet and subtle about his proposal as well. Where he says, you know, if I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am? You hear nothing but the truth from me. And I yeah, I just see like, he's so vulnerable in this moment, I think, more vulnerable than some of the other proposals, because he really just lays it all on the table. This could actually completely affect their friendship. I mean, it's the age or, you know, go friends to lovers, you know, do you use Do you risk the friendship to see if it could be something more? And so that he puts a lot on the line to propose to Emma in this moment? Because he has no idea like, what I feel like, he's just like, like, I'm not expecting anything from you. I just need to be honest. But he could totally backfire. And I'm, it could be like, gosh, this is gonna be awkward forever. Now, why would you tell me that? Well, he would lose
his replacement, not replacement family, but the family he's created for himself, you know. And he also, I think, his initial purpose just to ask, you know, would you be interested in perhaps at some point, marrying me, it's not even a proposal. It's more like, trying to figure out, do you like me? Because I like you.
Izzy Meakin 51:12
Would you consider me possibly in the future at some point in your life?
And she's like, No, we're good. We're there. But ya know, I love that. And I love that.
Yeah, the way he does it, it is at his most vulnerable. He's left, hurt, sad and disappointed. And he comes back just kind of open heart heart on his sleeve for in his version, and just willing to take a chance.
Izzy Meakin 51:42
And I out of all of the couples as well, we see quite a lot of them after the proposal. Like a lot of the times it's like proposal marriage done. Whereas I think fitting for Emory nightly, we see them going back to normal and just spending more time together, but with a closeness like that. They're more affectionate when they're around each other. And yeah, I really appreciate that. We get to see that that it's not just the wedding. Can you imagine we'd all be sat there like, well, I have to visit the White House. I'm sure he wouldn't be okay with that.
No, absolutely. I think we needed that. It's, it is a novel. It's called Emma, but I think it's really about that community and how it all works together as a whole. So we I'm glad we got that. And it's funny because I think it's very becomes clear that Mr. Knightley had no plan to propose because he hadn't planned out what was going to happen to Mr. Woodhouse is only the day after that he has to think all of it through and see okay, we're doing this now. How is it going to work? I think Mr. Knightley would have had a plan if he was expecting to propose when he rushed back so he truly did not expect to actually win Emma's hand and heart when he arrived from like a wet dog from London. I like to think he's like still a little humid when he comes
Izzy Meakin 53:01
on mean, I it was fun to read and the from the perspective of personality just like focus on him. And I still I mean, I did appreciate him before is like a fantastic hero. And I do believe we should note him because he is, you know, like you said like his name suggests. He's so Garlington in such a wonderful male character in the in this book, and I think across all of Austin's book, he really stands out.
It's been really eye opening details. I think I've just kind of rushed over in my enjoyment of the whole environment of Emma. Yeah, looking at Mr. Knightley has some has made it even dearer to me than I think he already was. Especially since it was my first sort of Austin. If you count Josh as a Mr. Knightley include this. But yeah, it's I don't think I will quite read Emma in the same way from now on after this conversation. There's more to the story now.
Izzy Meakin 54:01
I know and I feel like I hold Mr. Knightley is kind of more important than I ever thought before as well to the story and such like he's the glue in the community. And I love that I love I love seeing it from that stance. And I feel like we can take a lot from him. The way that he treats other people is, you know, inspiring. And I feel like we should all go about like looking after the community. Definitely he could
be a really good role model. Let's not forget, he sets up Robert Martin and Harriet in the end. He just happens, you know, to ask Robert Martin to do his brother some papers while Harry It isn't like I love that he's gone after Emma for doing it. And in the end, he does it but of course he's observed. I mean, he has a sneaking suspicion and they're not over each other. But yeah, I love that about him. He's He's a great complex character, but in the best way possible.
Izzy Meakin 54:54
Absolutely. I think so as well. 100% Because there's so much fun but I want everybody to be able to find you? Do you want to let people know where they can find you? What platforms?
Absolutely. My main platform is Instagram. So I'm at the austenite. All in one word, and I have a dormant Tik Tok it, same name. It might it might spring back to life in a few months, so if you're more of a tech talker, I will probably see you there.
Izzy Meakin 55:26
Sounds very similar to me. I keep trying with tic tock but it's honestly such a crazy world over there. I have no idea what's going on. So I've always I always try that. I'm like, who was the scary I don't understand what's happening.
We should talk and come up with a plan. I feel like two people together might be able to tackle it together. Hand in hand,
Izzy Meakin 55:44
we'll just go in the world of tick tock. Yeah. That is everything from us and we will see you in another episode.