Emma’s Mr. Knightley

March 17, 2010 | NeW Staff

It was only a matter of time before I chose to write about a Jane Austen book adapted to film.  Emma is my favorite Jane Austen book with my favorite male character—Mr. Knightley.   And in honor of The NeW Gentlemen’s Showcase, who better to write about than the genteel Mr. Knightely?  He is a true gentleman.  He understands the difference between men and women while treating women with the respect and honor they deserve.  Emma, is a young girl who lives in the height of wealth and society.  After successfully “setting up” her governess, she believes that she is a matchmaker.  After many failed attempts at arranging love between others, she finds love in her oldest and dearest friend, Mr. Knightley.  

There are several examples of Mr. Knightley’s gentlemanly behavior throughout the movie.  When the people of Highbury have a picnic, Emma is rude and disrespectful to Miss Bates, a sad, old woman who is in a much lower class than Emma.  Mr. Knightley, seeing that Miss Bates is hurt and embarrassed, asks Miss Bates to join him while he picks more strawberries.  At the Weston’s ball when Mr. Elton turns down a dance with Harriet because he is “an old married man” just moments after asking Mrs. Weston to dance, Knightley, hating dances, comes to her aid by asking her to dance.  By rescuing Miss Bates and Harriet Smith from wallowing in their social embarrassment, Knightley proved himself to be a gentleman above reproach.  

Mr. Knightley’s chivalrous character is typical of Jane Austen’s male protagonists; however, there are still men like Knightley today.  He may not save you from an embarrassing moment with a group of people or ask you to dance after you were turned down, but there are other things that gentlemen do.  The simple things like opening the car door before you enter, helping you carry some heavy boxes or retrieving something on the very top shelf.  

Remember to keep the votes coming for the Gentlemen’s Showcase!  Voting ends on March 30th.
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