So, dear readers, if you care to, come join me as I explore the character of George Knightley.
The Filmmaker’s Mr Knightley
Jonny Lee Miller – BBC 2009
This is my favorite representation of Mr Knightley, and I know I am joined in this opinion by many Emma fans. He was just the right age for the part, and he seemed to really understand how Mr Knightley is supposed to be. This Mr Knightley is caring, practical, has a sense of humor, and is always keeping an eye out for Emma. He’s also very convincing in the romantic parts – really makes me feel it like none of the other movies did. I suppose he’s not exactly handsome, but I think he’s attractive, in the right way for Mr Knightley. Oh yes, and did I mention he does a really good job arguing with Emma? ;-)
Jeremy Northam – Mirimax 1996
This one has my second favorite, and some people’s favorite Mr Knightley. (He was my favorite, before the 2009 version came out.) He’s probably more dashing, but also a couple years too young. He did a tolerably good job…although sometimes I think he is a little too gentle with Emma. He doesn’t get quite angry enough – while I would like this better in a person, I don’t think it’s exactly what I’d picture when reading the book. I did like the way he scolded Emma about her criticizing Miss Bates (although it still wasn’t quite like the book).
Mark Strong – A&E 1996
This Mr Knightley – was not Mr Knightley. He was too harsh, too scowlish. When he yells it is rather frightening! He rarely had a pleasant look on his face. He was not very attractive. He is the reason some people don’t like this movie. I liked most the other characters off this one; but when one doesn’t like the hero, it is a sad thing indeed.
Since the 1972 version doesn’t really count in my mind, I won’t talk about that Knightley at all.
Mr Knightley is known by all to be kind, caring, and gentleman-like. He always thinks of other people first. He doesn’t like to see people being treated badly. Consider Harriet, for example. The scene in the 2009 mini-series was done very well. Mr Elton was very rude to refuse to dance with Harriet—I have to say it was worse than Mr Darcy not taking Bingley’s suggestion to dance with Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice. Harriet was the only young lady not dancing, and Mr Elton the only dancing man disengaged. They had been acquainted for some time. Mrs Weston points her out, Harriet actually close enough to overhear. A minute before, he had pretty much said he wanted to dance, and so obviously he was only wishing to avoid dancing with Harriet. His thinking she was so much beneath him was one of the reasons. That’s why Mr Knightley asking Harriet to dance meant so much; Mr Knightley has a much higher station than Mr Elton. Also, nobody expected Mr Knightley to dance. But he observed the situation and saw clearly that it needed his attention.
Here a photo reel thing I made from the stirring scene:
|"The very recollection of it, and all that I felt at the time--when I saw him coming--his noble look--and my wretchedness before. Such a change! In one moment such a change! From perfect misery to perfect happiness." ~Harriet|
I liked how they had Mr Knightley look over at Emma while he was observing this; I think it is very likely that Mr Knightley did it partly for Emma’s sake, her being so concerned for her friend.
Mr Knightley through Emma’s eyes
It was amusing to me to read Emma’s expressed opinions about Mr Knightley before she realized she was in love with him. Beneath the arguments and disagreements, she always had a respect and admiration for him. Like what she said to Harriet near the beginning of the book:
“Mr Knightley’s air is so remarkably good, that it is not fair to compare Mr Martin with him. You might not see one in a hundred, with gentleman so plainly written as in Mr Knightley.”
When Mrs Weston mentioned Mr Knightley’s bringing his carriage for the purpose of conveying Jane Fairfax, in consideration of her health, Emma said:
“I know no man more likely than Mr Knightley to do the sort of thing—to do anything really good-natured, useful, considerate, or benevolent.”
And then, of course when Mrs Weston mentions her suspicions of Mr Knightley being attached to Jane, Emma does not like this at all. However, she gives herself an excuse for not liking it:
“Mr Knightley and Jane Fairfax! Dear Mrs Weston, how could you think of such a thing?—Mr Knightley!—Mr Knightley must not marry!—You would not have little Henry cut out from Donwell? –Oh! No, no, Henry must have Donwell.”
|Emma looking concerned at the thought of Mr Knightley|
in love with Jane Fairfax
In the 2009 mini-series, I loved the scene after Emma meets Mrs Elton:
“ ‘Knightley’, indeed. Never seen him in her life, and she calls him ‘Knightley’! Insufferable woman! Horrible, upstart, vulgar being with her ‘Mr E.’ and her ‘caro sposo’ and her carriages and air of pert pretentions and underbred finery. Actually to discover that Mr Knightley is a gentleman, and that the woman who brought me up should be ladylike! I’ve never met her equal! ‘Knightley’, indeed! I’ve known him all my life, and even I don’t call him that!”
In the book, this paragraph during the ball amused me very much:
“She was more disturbed by Mr Knightley’s not dancing, than by any thing else.—There he was, among the standers-by, where he ought not to be; he ought to be dancing,--not classing himself with the husbands, and fathers, and whist-players, who were pretending to feel and interest in the dance till their rubbers were made up,--so young as he looked! He could not have appeared to greater advantage perhaps any where, than where he had placed himself. His tall, firm, upright figure, among the bulky forms and stooping shoulders of the elderly men, was such as Emma felt must draw every body’s eyes; … He moved a few steps nearer, and those few steps were enough to prove in how gentlemanlike a manner, with what natural grace, he must have danced, would he but take the trouble.”
|"What are you doing over here with the old men and the card players?"|
[Mr Woodhouse speaking] “Dear Emma has been to call on Mrs and Miss Bates, Mr Knightley, as I told you before. She is always so attentive to them!”
Emma’s colour was heightened by this unjust praise; and with a smile, and a shake of the head, which spoke much, she looked at Mr Knightley.—It seemed as if there were an instantaneous impression in her favour, as if his eyes had received the truth from her’s, and all that had passed of good in her feelings were at once caught and honoured.—He looked at her with a glow of regard. She was warmly gratified—and in another moment still more so, by a little movement of more than common friendliness on his part.—He…took her hand, pressed it, and certainly was on the point of carrying it to his lips—when, from some fancy or other, he suddenly let it go.
I sometimes wonder…if Emma had been as convinced that Mr Knightley loved Jane Fairfax as she later was of his regard for Harriet, would she have realized her own fondness for him? I’m inclined to think that was part of it, but that her affection for him grew as time passed, and so when it came to Harriet, the thought of his marrying was even more dreadful to her.
This post has become too long, therefore I am going to continue it next week.
By the way, I do like Mr Darcy, and I think he is still my favorite. I’ll have to do a post all about him after another complete reading of Pride and Prejudice.