Friday, February 1, 2013

Character Profile: George Knightley

Mr. Knightley, a sensible man about seven or eight-and-thirty, was not only a very old and intimate friend of the family, but particularly connected with it, as the elder brother of Isabella's husband. He lived about a mile from Highbury, was a frequent visitor, and always welcome, and at this time more welcome than usual, as coming directly from their mutual connections in London.

Name: George Knightley

Age: 35

Hobbies: Agricultural improvement. He also takes a general interest in making sure everyone in his little corner of the world is well taken care of, an activity which surely leaves him little time for any demanding hobby, so he settles for sparing with Emma instead.

Most Charming Quality: Intelligence.

Most Detrimental Tendency: Jealousy.

Greatest Strengths: Honor and sincerity.

Truest Friend: It's a toss up between Emma Woodhouse, John Knightly, and William Larkins.

Worst Enemy: Frank Churchill

Prospects: Exceedingly good. He is the master on Donwell Abbey, the principal estate of the area, but he invests most of his money back into the estate, foregoing many of the luxuries (like horses) that most gentlemen consider necessary.

Favorite Quotations:
 "I have still the advantage of you by sixteen years' experience, and by not being a pretty young woman and a spoiled child."
"He is a very liberal thanker, with his thousands and tens of thousands.--'Happier than I deserve.' Come, he knows himself there."
"No, Emma, your amiable young man can be amiable only in French, not in English. He may be very 'aimable,' have very good manners, and be very agreeable; but he can have no English delicacy towards the feelings of other people: nothing really amiable about him." 
"Oh! very delightful indeed; I can say nothing less, for I suppose Miss Woodhouse and Mr. Frank Churchill are hearing every thing that passes. And (raising his voice still more) I do not see why Miss Fairfax should not be mentioned too. I think Miss Fairfax dances very well; and Mrs. Weston is the very best country-dance player, without exception, in England. Now, if your friends have any gratitude, they will say something pretty loud about you and me in return; but I cannot stay to hear it."
"Better be without sense, than misapply it as you do."
"I cannot make speeches, Emma:" he soon resumed; and in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably convincing.--"If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am.--You hear nothing but truth from me.--I have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have borne it.--Bear with the truths I would tell you now, dearest Emma, as well as you have borne with them. The manner, perhaps, may have as little to recommend them. God knows, I have been a very indifferent lover.--But you understand me.--Yes, you see, you understand my feelings--and will return them if you can. At present, I ask only to hear, once to hear your voice."
Musings: Finally, a hero I can relish in peace! Both Edmund Bertram and Mr. Darcy's profiles were too emotional for me to enjoy it. Mr. Knightley is just the sort of man I can easily rejoice in, without any undue frenzy. He is, perhaps, Austen's most likable hero, and certainly the most comfortable husband.

One knows precisely what to expect of Mr. Knightly. The man is clear-sighted, penetrating, and scrupulously honorable: the model of gentlemanly conduct. His only flaw is jealously of Frank Churchill, a rather charming failing than not, and we easily forgive him.

I adore Mr. Knightley's proposal. I think it possibly the best in Austen, though Wentworth may have him beat. It is his most muddled speech. Usually clear and concise in his statements, he invokes that fact while his overriding emotions undermine the entire argument. "I cannot make speeches..." - can you not, Mr. Knightley? I find it a more than admirable speech, even when its intelligence gets lost feeling.

Such an admirable man leaves me little to critique. All I can do is bask in his perfection. Oh dear! It seems I'm overcome by frenzy in spite myself. How very disappointing.



  1. Love this post! Mr. Knightley is my favorite Austen hero.

  2. Thanks! Mr. Darcy will always prevail in my mind, but Mr. Knightley is wonderful.