Pearl of Personality: Thoughts of an Introvert in Emma

Summer Evening by Childe Hassam

Summer Evening by Childe Hassam

My 3-year old son, James, is a extrovert (bless his heart), while my husband and I are introverts.  We’re content being homebodies and spend most of our evenings quietly curled up on the couch, reading.  James, on the other hand, has a hard time feeling alive without people around him: the vast expanse of the great outdoors is a bleak desert if I’m not out there with him, and his toys inspire the most half-hearted interest until one of us joins in the play.  It can be pretty challenging to feed his seemingly inexhaustible need for social involvement in all the activities of his day . . . but it helps, at least, to have an idea of how we’re different.

The point being, all these thoughts about introverts and extroverts were floating through my mind the other day as I was reading Jane Austen’s Emma.  This passage seemed to leap off the page as I read it; I concurred most fervently with the thoughts of my fellow introvert, John Knightley!

The whole party were but just reassembled in the drawing-room when Mr. Weston made his appearance among them.  He had returned to a late dinner, and walked to Hartfield as soon as it was over.  He had been too much expected by the best judges, for surprise – but there was great joy . . . John Knightley only was in mute astonishment – That a man who might have spent his evening quietly at home after a day of business in London, should set off again, and walk half a mile to another man’s house, for the sake of being in mixed company till bedtime, of finishing his day in the efforts of civility and the noise of numbers, was a circumstance to strike him deeply.  A man who had been in motion since eight o’clock in the morning, and might now have been still, who had been long talking, and might have been silent, who had been in more than one crowd, and might have been alone! – Such a man, to quit the tranquility and independence of his own fireside, and on the evening of a cold sleety April day rush out again into the world! . . . John Knightley looked at him in amazement.

How about you?  Any favourite books with introvert heroes?  Are you a Mr. Weston or a Mr. John Knightley?  


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