Mr Knightley is one of the most beloved characters of the English literary canon – the sparring partner, and eventual suitor, of Emma Woodhouse, the spoilt but well-meaning heroine of Jane Austen’s novel Emma.
However, the world has changed since the book’s publication in 1815, as have our views towards condescending men – and it seems that, according to the director and stars of the upcoming film adaptation ‘Emma.’, Mr Knightley is guilty of occasional mansplaining.
Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com, director Autumn de Wilde revealed that the reason she had Mr Knightley (Johnny Flynn) strip naked at the beginning of the film was to counteract his “annoying” mansplaining habit.
“Mr Knightley is a real mansplainer at the beginning of the film,” De Wilde said. “He is right, but it’s annoying, all he does is lecture Emma, and tell her how life works and how she should do things and what she shouldn’t do, and even though he’s the moral compass, it’s sort of like there’s this constant chatter of advice coming from his way.
“So I really wanted people to fall in love with Mr Knightley, and I thought stripping him down to the bare human was a really nice way to literally humanise Mr Knightley.”
The film’s stars, Flynn and Anya Taylor-Joy (Emma), both spoke exclusively to RadioTimes.com, and agreed that Mr Knightly is mansplainer – but that “he’s tortured about it”.
“Yeah [Mr Knightley is a mansplainer], but what I like is that he’s tortured about it,” said Flynn, “and he I think he’d rather not be [a mansplainer], and he apologises for it, and I think he explains what the feeling is behind it, and I think there’s a lesson for men in there somewhere, like being open to evolving.”
Taylor-Joy added: “There are times when Emma is not in the right morally, but what she’s saying is correct, and that infuriates him, hence the mansplaining.”
‘Emma.’ is released in cinemas on Valentine’s Day, Friday 14th February 2020