It’s very bad to go to sleep in love with Mr. Knightley.
Of course everyone loves Darcy, but for me there is no comparison. Mr. Knightley is it. And what a silly, but perfect name, for he is so chivalrous and virtuous, all the highest and noblest things a man, a gentleman might be. And he loves a woman with an open temperament.
It was bad enough loving him after reading the book. Then, over the last few days, I watched the BBC version online, in which Mr. Knightley is played to near perfection by Jonny Lee Miller. Of course I dreamed of some world with Mr. Knightley in it. And I awoke with Mr. Knightley in my aura.
On the website, I’d taken the silly little “which bachelor for you?” quiz, and as I knew I would, got Mr. Knightley by a huge proportion. Yes, indeed, he’s the man for me.
But, there is no such person as Mr. Knightley. He is a fiction, created by a woman. He is a character well refined by hours with a pen, so that he speaks as he would speak, and always says the absolutely perfect thing, succinctly and with grace, as do so many Austen characters.
Hence, I’ve given up on love. I’d already come to that, but I see quite clearly now that it is because the man for me doesn’t actually exist.
Well, I actually did know one man once who had very Knightley qualities, but he had to go off and do the right thing somewhere else, and we were separated. But he did love me, so at least I know that Mr. Knightley might.
I am in no way Emma. I have neither money nor “station”. I am the child of actor parents, left penniless. I did not grow up in the calm and safety of an English manor in the countryside. I also am not interested in arranging the love lives of others. I suppose if Mr. Knightley had a flaw, it might be that he loves Emma. But in truth, I can see that he has a longer vision, and he knows her deeper worth, and holds her to it.
I have never known that kind of love, never been the person someone’s day just wouldn’t be right without. My life has been a series of moves, from one state to another, to and from another country, from one neighborhood to another…Stability is what is required for long-term commitments.
Mr. Knightley knows Emma inside and out. He also has the benefit of being somewhat older than she. His poise, his insight, his strength, even his willingness to have a temper, and to upbraid Emma when he thinks she’s gone wrong, make him a man of depth that a woman can equal, and grow from. And his tenderness and loyalty…
Ah, Mr. Knightley…
Is it better to dream of a fictional character than no one at all? To love a poem than no one at all?
As much fun as Jane Austen is to read, I do not take her men as examples of what is found in life. I did not grow up reading Jane Austen, so I do not think that spoiled me. My heroes were Sherlock Holmes and the Scarlet Pimpernel. And John Steinbeck. And I romanticized every boy I knew. And had some very unpleasant lessons to learn. Most boys do not like girls with open temperaments. This was wishful thinking on Jane’s part. Though I’ve had my share of lovers and friends, there was no Mr. Knightley for me. And I’m sure that to marry, it would’ve had to have been Mr. Knightley, for I believe in being virtuous – as in, good hearted, empathetic, loyal, honest, and strong. And I require openness and strength, for I am open and strong. And as I am not always sure, or right, I would want someone loving and loyal to meet me with honesty and hold me to a higher standard.
How can you not love the man when, after a lifetime of devotion and friendship he says to the very woman he loves, in private “Badly done” after she is publicly rude and unfeeling to another.
Oh Mr. Knightley, you are so fair
of face and of judgement.
No one compares
these days. I fear
I shall never
know the likes