Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Emma Woodhouse and "the wonderful velocity of thought"

In Jane Austen's "Emma", when Harriet Smith tells Emma Woodhouse of her affection for Mr. Knightley, Emma's response is quick: "A mind like hers [...] made rapid progress. [...] It darted through her, with the speed of an arrow, that Mr. Knightley must marry no one but herself!" Emma's quick thinking reappears when Mr. Knightley proposes to her: "While he spoke, Emma's mind was most busy, and, with all the wonderful velocity of thought, had been able [...] to catch and comprehend the exact truth of the whole [...]." While she often jumps to erroneous conclusions, in these scenes she is right, first about her own emotions, then about Mr. Knightley's. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 19 May 2021)

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