F&H and Austen

hallieod at indigo.ie hallieod at indigo.ie
Tue Jan 14 16:49:08 EST 2003

>For me, in both these cases (F&H and _Emma_) I was put off on my first
>reading by the fact that the young girl ends up with the older guy.  The
>reason for this was that I was deceived by the nature of their relationships
>at the start.  Tom's conversations with Polly about their imaginary world
>struck me as the sort of thing grownups do when they're humoring kids, for
>example.  So it never occurred to me that there was even the possibility of
>a romance; I still saw Polly as more or less a child, despite her being at
>university and so forth.  I figured there was no way Emma would want to
>marry someone who was sixteen years older than her.
>Reading both books a second time, I knew what to expect.  And then it all
>made sense.  F&H is clearly a more complex book than it appears, and the
>second time I realized that both Polly and Tom were moving toward that
>resolution the whole time.  Emma was an adult who had been relating to
>Knightley as an adult for some time.
>Again, though, it wasn't so much that Polly was, what, 19?  I got married
>when *I* was nineteen, so I know that it's possible to be mature enough to
>handle a long-term relationship at a relatively young age.  Despite this, I
>still have the gut assumption that most people of a particular age are all
>at the same stage in life, emotionally, mentally, financially, socially.  I
>do think it's true in general, but I know the exceptions are there.  And I
>think, at least for Tom and Polly, this is one of those exceptions.  Tom's
>ensorcellment by Laurel has, I think, stunted him in ways that make him more
>a peer to Polly than Seb is--despite the fact that Seb is much closer in age
>to her.  And I agree with whoever pointed out that Tom isn't sexually
>interested in Polly at first, which to me would make him a pedophile.  So,
>basically, I read the relationship differently later on.
>(Hey, Hallie, what about Robin McKinley's _Beauty_?  There's another older
>man/younger woman thing, and he's about two hundred years older than she is.

Yeah, I was just about to reply to Katta's post about being unable to 
accept the Polly/Tom relationship with reference to my being unable 
to accept Beauty/Beast's one in McKinley's version.  But then I got 
exhausted just thinking about it. ;-)  Back to Polly and Tom, it's 
not the fact that he's older (my father was 20 years older than my 
mother, but she wasn't married until she was 30), or the fact that 
she's 18 or 19 in the chronological end, but just the worrying 
aspects which have already developed when she's 15 which can be 
problematic.   Not that 15 is unrealistically young to be 
sexually/romantically attached to someone, but Tom must be, what, a 
minimum of 25 when she meets him, making him 30 when she's 15.  Maybe 
my age-figuring is skewed though...

I do like your point about his being stunted by Laurel's owning him. 
Of *course*, that's what happens to someone taken by Faerie - and 
when did Laurel get hold of him?  Young enough for her to put him 
through school.  Phew.  That makes it feel a lot better.


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