Mr. Knightly is without doubt a romantic hero. But what are other purposes he serves in the novel? Compare Mr. Knightly with Frank Churchill. What behaviours are expected of a gentleman in this society? Which of the two men best fits these expectations?


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Mr. Knightley and Frank Churchill are presented as almost complete opposites in the novel. While Mr. Knightley is logical, responsible, and thoughtful (and the character manifestation of the narrator), Frank Churchill is weak, superficial, and manipulative. However, both characters possess the appropriate fortune, appearance, and social status to be suitable husbands for Emma. In this way, Austen suggests that either Mr. Knightley and Frank Churchill could work as a husband for Emma; in the end, her development as a character will determine who would be the more appropriate choice. At the picnic at Box Hill when Emma insults Miss Bates, it seems likely that she has developed into a match for Frank Churchill. Yet, after her epiphany, Emma makes an active effort to change and gradually becomes the compassionate and mature woman that is meant to marry Mr. Knightley.