Emma

Emma

'I never have been in love; it is not my way, or my nature; and I do not think I ever shall.'Beautiful, clever, rich - and single - Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr. Knig...

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Title:Emma
Author:Jane Austen
Rating:
ISBN:0141439580
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Paperback
Number of Pages:474 pages

Emma Reviews

  • Kelly
    May 24, 2007

    This is a book about math, mirrors and crystal balls, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Village life? Sorta. The lives of the idle rich? I mean, sure, but only partially and incidentally. Romance? Barely. A morality tale of the Education of Young Lady? The young lady stands for and does many more important things than that. These things provide the base of the novel, the initial bolt of fabric, the first few lines of a drawing that set the limits of the author to writing about these thous

    This is a book about math, mirrors and crystal balls, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Village life? Sorta. The lives of the idle rich? I mean, sure, but only partially and incidentally. Romance? Barely. A morality tale of the Education of Young Lady? The young lady stands for and does many more important things than that. These things provide the base of the novel, the initial bolt of fabric, the first few lines of a drawing that set the limits of the author to writing about these thousand things rather than the other million things that lie outside those lines. They are the melody to which the symphony will return again and again, but with variations so you’ll never quite hear it again with perfect simplicity. You just have to recognize them to be able to understand the rest of the piece. And that is all. The melody is never the point- the point is everything that comes in between each time it repeats, which then dictates why the repetition is different the next time it all plays out.

    You can’t just tune out everything that comes in between. Because then you’ll miss the story about math, mirrors and crystal balls. I missed it the first time around, and I’m sort of upset that I did, because this part of the story is way more engaging. Let’s talk math first. First time I ever wanted to do that without moaning with boredom, so already, points, JA! Austen’s work sets up fascinating equations that keep building and building on top of each other until you get one of those fantastically scary creations that cover the entire wall of a room where the genius who wrote it all out is leaping up and down, exhausted, all, “Eureka! I’ve done it!” only in this case, the genius can actually explain it to you in a way that makes her efforts seem worth it. Once you understand the first couple operations of the equation, then it’s easy to see where the next ones come from.

    But to bring it down out of the world of the abstract what I mean is that I think Austen is absolutely brilliant at decoding every little minute detail of the duties, privileges, guilts, obligations, and routines that go into human relationships. Just like how in math if you add instead of multiply in one part of an equation it screws the whole thing, Austen shows us why one simple infraction of this delicate balance in relationships is such a major drama and can screw the whole thing for you. Yes, it’s one simple action, and no matter how justified it is that you forgot one thing amongst the fifty things you’re supposed to do, your answer is

    and all the other correct work you did is completely invalidated. Red mark. Final. You’re wrong, and you know it and everyone knows it and to put this in Sorkinese you just have to stand there in your wrongness and be wrong. She reveals the little town of Highbury- or even really just the upper echelons of its ruling class- to be a labyrinth of constant choices where there are fifteen steps that one has to go through to narrow down your options. This is where its sort of about village life in that you can’t just do a straight cost-benefit analysis in any direct way because you will have to deal with the consequences of that action every day and it will materially affect your life in way that you can’t avoid like you could with a more anonymous society, or one in which people moved around more. Of

    there isn’t as much action as other novels. It takes so much time to get through the lead up and the aftermath of every decision, and every time you skimp on any of it, it comes back to bite you in the ass.

    When Emma tries to go out to dinner, depending on the situation she’s got a different set of a million questions to answer and/or tasks to complete. When it’s the one where she goes over to a couple’s house who are “in trade” and therefore her social inferiors, she’s got to come up with formulas that a) make it okay for her to want to be invited in the first place, b) make it okay for her to want to refuse it, then simultaneously c) make it okay for her to want to accept it, then d) figure out a way to see to her invalid father’s comfort (she has to ask him to go, go through a whole thing where she tries to persuade him even though she knows he won’t and shouldn’t come, then she arranges a dinner party for him while she’s out, then she has to arrange that those coming will be comfortable because her father has a tendency to starve people at dinner because he thinks he’s helping them be healthy) then e) make sure that she’ll be received in a style that befits her (she is invited to dinner while “the lesser females”- the term Austen uses- are only invited later in the evening), then f) finally practically arrange for herself to get there and get home which you would think would really be the only thing to worry about the first place. Even when she’s going out to dinner with her best friends down the street, she’s still got to worry about her father’s comfort, the harmony of her difficult family relationships, and who is conveying who by what carriage and why. She has a confrontational thing with Mr. Knightley outside when he comes on his horse rather than in his carriage, which is made worse in that it follows up the reveal that he only used his carriage to go to the other party to convey the “lesser females”, which is actually a big plot point that the whole thing turns on. Mrs. Weston thinks that for Knightley to be so thoughtful he must be in love with Jane, but no, Mr. Knightley just understands math better than anyone and comes up with the right answer more times than anyone as well.

    I think it’s interesting that its brought up several times that Emma is always “meaning to read more” or improve herself to live up to the model of Jane that is always before her (the character who is perhaps only second to Mr. Knightley in coming up with the right answer, and even then she’s more impressive about it since she’s doing it with the handicap of having made a conventionally bad decision before the opening of the action), but doesn’t. I entirely understand it because I think she does meticulous enough work every day to make her household and relationships function in the way that they do. I mean, think about it. How many of these people are really suited to be living in such close quarters, where they are forced into repeated contact? Almost none of them. I think this really helps to explain one of the reasons why she befriends Harriet- she’s outside the equation, an X factor that Emma can throw in that might open up new possibilities, which might allow for different and more exciting things than seem currently possible with the options open to her.

    Her whole arc with Frank Churchill is sort of the same thing in that it represents another kind of escape from how hemmed in she is. He represents really the only person to whom she can really interact as an equal- someone to whom she doesn’t really have any obligations other than to enjoy herself and speak in a way that is not controlled by what she should be saying or should be doing. He’s not a total X factor in that he’s been mapped into the social hierarchy of the village even in his absence, but the way he’s been mapped means he’s been marked out for Emma. The way in which he’s thought of sort of gives her permission to think of him as belonging to her in a way that allows her to think and act selfishly in a manner that she mostly recognizes as wrong (hence why she almost immediately realizes that she’s not in love with him and would never marry him) but which is also a sweet relief.

    But that’s why the two golden children can’t be together. If they were, the math of obligations and ties and duties and privileges would be upset in a way that would rend asunder the balance of life in a way that could never be repaired. When Emma and Frank Churchill end up together, you end up with the 2008 banking crisis and Occupy Wall Street. Their choice to be together might have represented a choice that would have set them “free” in many ways, but free to be lesser than they could be or should be. It’s interesting to me that Austen had Knightley and Jane (her models of what it means to make correct choices, remember) step back to let Frank and Emma make that choice, and then we see how violently both characters freak out about having the higher, better models of humanity removed from them. Those two characters don’t want each other, because honestly at the base of it all, math motivates us- math gives us reasons to get up and move and do it again. Frank and Emma know they can’t do anything for each other- they could only live in self satisfied ease, beauty and comfort, and that’s not enough.

    Mirrors and crystal balls are the complement of this math. They’re always haunting the background of all the choices that are made in the novel. Austen is pretty methodical and amazing in how she’s able to make the whole novel a Hall of Mirrors that justifies the title of Emma even better than the fact that she is the main character. Most of the people in the town represent what Emma is and what she is not, and even more importantly, who she could be and who she is afraid she’ll be. Austen brings this out most consciously in the comparison to Miss Bates- who is not coincidentally Emma’s mortal enemy and bête noire. Emma has a conversation with Harriet where the scary specter of her turning into Miss Bates is discussed, and she outlines everything she feels makes her different from Miss Bates. For someone who turns up her nose at people in trade and prosperous farmers, she must have surprised herself by making her main point that she is rich and Miss Bates is poor and then having all other differences proceed from that. I don’t think its coincidental that Miss Bates is perhaps the most memorable character from the whole novel-she’s allowed to ramble on in conversations to the point where it almost seems like we’re experiencing Emma’s nightmare, not an actual person. Nor is it surprising that its Miss Bates she finally acts out on when she loses her shit- of all the equations and all the math she’s done in sorting out her life, Miss Bates is the one constant, loud, obnoxious reminder of the fact that not only is it possible that she’s added instead of multiplied, its possible that just like Miss Bates, math rather than affection will be all she has to rely on.

    Her second nightmare mirror is Jane Fairfax, and I think it’s definitely not an accident that Jane is essentially the creation of Miss Bates for most of the novel, who seems to (at least from Emma’s perspective) be actively trying to create the creature most designed to make Emma feel insecure, a person who exists to annoy her and slap her down at every turn, and all in such a sweet guise that there’s no way for Emma to slay the dragon- she just has to let it come at her again and again for her entire life. Emma spends most of the book reacting against, too, and around the mirror of Jane- and by whom she thinks that other people judge her, although this doesn’t seem to be the case.

    Much like with Frank, Jane is the natural person to be classed with Emma, by mathematical equation (age, sex, education, social class), but unlike Frank, Jane doesn’t have the potential to set Emma free. Instead Emma feels further hemmed in by her, almost until the point of suffocation, because it seems like people are telling her that she should be the incarnation of the math, which Emma hates. I think that’s what the whole “one cannot love a reserved person,” thing that repeats the whole novel was about. Yes, you should strive after the right answer as much as possible, and it always has to be there in your head, but you can’t let it rule you. You have to be brave enough to be a person sometimes, too, which is all Emma’s about and all she keeps saying the whole novel. Jane is the total opposite of that.

    Mrs. Elton is another mirror, with an exaggerated version of Emma’s pride and classism (which Emma usually ends up setting aside, but its always there). Harriet is some fascinatingly complex thing in her psyche where she’s simultaneously this self-hating symbol of what she thinks other people think of her (in that Harriet is the opposite of that) and perhaps also some twisted martyr like version of what she thinks of herself. Mrs. Weston is an idol, which could make her the same sort of suffocating symbol as Jane, but she escapes from that by being in another class and age that cannot be compared to Emma, and through her unconditional love. Other characters also reflect to each other and therefore back onto Emma again as well. The two Knightley brothers, to each other and to the other men of the village, Mr. Weston to Mr. Woodhouse and Mr. Woodhouse to Mr. Knightley and back again, and so on in a round, but it all comes back to Emma.

    The book actually reminded me of the feeling that I had towards the end of Madame Bovary, which was odd. That was also a book about living in tight spaces, which seemed to get smaller and smaller whenever you turned, and where the escapes offered to you seemed to have something lacking from them. I was gasping for air by the time that they got to Box Hill, which is I think exactly what Austen intends. But this Emma is not like that Emma. That Emma ignored the math more and more. She wasn’t breaking the rules so much as she was proposing an entirely different game. Austen’s Emma commits an infraction, but still recognizes the rules and the game and the players and has no desire to change them. Ultimately, I think the turning point is Emma realizing that she isn’t locked in the closet at all and she never was. I think there’s so much deception and hidden secrets because and misunderstandings because Emma needs to realize, again and again, that the labyrinth she’s built for herself is of her own making, and bears little to no relation to reality, and it’s damn good thing that it doesn’t. She has to get out of her own head and the crazy garden of fears, paranoias and dreams she’s created there and realize that it doesn’t matter whether she’s the fairest of them all or not. What matters is keeping intact the equation that’s lead to the right answer so often that she’s gotten careless about remembering that it still matters that she does it right, even when she’s moved on to calculus and imaginary equations.

    I’ve always related to Emma Woodhouse more than any of Austen’s other heroines, and this reading did not change that feeling. I still think she changes and grows in incredible amounts, in ways that make sense to me and seem genuine. I still want to hang out with her, and I’d still love to be a fly on the wall in her therapy sessions (you know if that weren’t a terrible thing to do) because I feel like she would help me to express a lot of things I feel myself- which she does every time I read this novel. Every once in awhile I come back to the question of why Austen thought others wouldn’t like her. I’ve decided at this point its because I think that her other heroines represent a type or statement of some kind that Austen was reacting to or working through, whereas Emma I think isn’t evocative of anything so sympathetic or recognizable in the symbolic universe. She seems like the most messy, true to life, screwed up, actual person that Austen wrote about. That’s not to say that the other heroines aren’t realistic, they are, but just that they’re tied up with these other languages and ideas and conversations in a way that Emma isn’t. She’s just sort of… this girl who’s trying to be a person and that’s all. She’s maybe the most modern in that respect. I don’t think I am expressing this well. Whatever, she’s still my Austen bestie. That is the important point here.

    Anyway, this is unbelievably long at this point so I’ll just offer an executive summary of my above points here: Whatevs, haters. JA, FTW! <} 4EVA!!

    * * *

    Original Review:This is one of the Holy Trinity of Austen (yes, I just made that up). And in my opinion, deservedly so. Emma is far and away the heroine that I identify the most with of all the Austen women. Jane Austen thought that nobody would like her when she wrote Emma... except maybe she underestimated how many people have things in common with her. She has so many deep flaws that are so easy to completely hate, but she means so very well, and is really a deeply caring person. She just has absolutely no self awareness yet, and has not matured enough to change her opinions when faced with opposition. Here is where she learns how. It reminded me so much of myself at a certain age, and even on some level right now. She's a snob, she's rather a bitch at times, she's condescending, and not all that perceptive. But I just love her anyway. Perhaps because I used to or still have those characteristics and want to believe that even those people will learn and deserve love in the end, even from a Mr. Knightley. But also, I think, because Austen creates her so sympathetically, that it's hard not to love her. This book explains motivations a lot more than in the others, and one gets a few sides of the story of errors towards the end of the book, as everything is set completely right again. I liked that, that she didn't let it go, but tied up all her threads to her readers' satisfaction. Or at least mine.

    PS- The Gwen Paltrow/Jeremy Northam movie? My first Austen movie. Got me into the genre, really. I think it's fantastic, and very sweet, and Jeremy Northam is perfectly well cast. Also: you'll see Ewan McGregor with an awful haircut, looking completely unattractive. It's kind of funny.

  • Mandy
    Feb 03, 2008

    I can't do it! I can't finish it! I keep trying to get into Jane Austen's stuff and I just can't make it further than 150 pages or so. Everything seems so predictable and sooooo long-winded. I feel like she is the 19th century John Grisham. You know there's a good story line in there somewhere, and if you could edit out 60% of the words it would be fantastic. Sorry to all the Jane Austen fans-you inspired me to try one more time and I failed!

  • Amy
    Jun 21, 2008

    Of all of Austen's books - and I've read them all several times - I learn the most from Emma. I believe that one of Austen's goals in writing is to teach us to view the rude and ridiculous with amusement rather than disdain. And in Emma we have the clearest and most powerful picture of what happens when we don't do this: when Emma speaks out against Miss Bates. Though rude on Emma's part, we can't help but love her for her mistake and feel her shame because we've all been there. When I feel I ca

    Of all of Austen's books - and I've read them all several times - I learn the most from Emma. I believe that one of Austen's goals in writing is to teach us to view the rude and ridiculous with amusement rather than disdain. And in Emma we have the clearest and most powerful picture of what happens when we don't do this: when Emma speaks out against Miss Bates. Though rude on Emma's part, we can't help but love her for her mistake and feel her shame because we've all been there. When I feel I can't take [for example] one more family situation, one more draining phone call, one more person unloading on me, I read Emma and remind myself how to behave.

  • Amanda
    Jul 28, 2009

    My interpretation of the first 60+ pages of Emma:

    "Oh, my dear, you musn't think of falling for him. He's too crude and crass."

    "Oh, my dear Emma, you are perfectly correct. I shan't give him another thought."

    "Oh, my dear, that's good because I would have to knock you flat on your arse if you were considering someone of such low birth."

    Yawn. I tried, but life's too short. Plus, I like 'em crude and crass.

    Cross posted at

  • Lora
    Jun 26, 2011

    Although using this trite doesn't mean that the fact is any less true, it is still at the risk of sounding cliché when I say that Jane Austen's classic,

    , is like a breath of fresh air when juxtaposed to the miasmal novels in the publishing market today; especially for someone who has been on a YA binge of late.

    You see, the reason why I went for

    as my first Austen read is because my mother has seen the latest movie adaptation, and she claims it to be her very favorite. Mind you, she has

    Although using this trite doesn't mean that the fact is any less true, it is still at the risk of sounding cliché when I say that Jane Austen's classic,

    , is like a breath of fresh air when juxtaposed to the miasmal novels in the publishing market today; especially for someone who has been on a YA binge of late.

    You see, the reason why I went for

    as my first Austen read is because my mother has seen the latest movie adaptation, and she claims it to be her very favorite. Mind you, she hasn't read any thing of Austen's—but she loves the movie so very much that she kept pestering me to watch it (I suppose I'll have to pester her to read the book now, won't I?). To which I continually said that, no, no, I will not watch the movie until I've read the book; I positively

    to watch the movie adaptation before reading the book; it virtually cancels out any chance of me ever finding enough interest in reading the actual book to its completion.

    So, after picking up

    at least ten times in the past year, reading the first few chapters, only to sit it back down again, I

    —the other day—decided I wanted to read something of quality and something that is truly written well. Well, that is definitely

    .

    Emma, herself, is, for me, just as stunning as she is flawed; I started out thinking her a walking vexation, but somewhere in the 400+ pages I began to warm to her like you would with any inevitably lovable—albeit, at times, antagonising—character. Emma's devotion to her father is also very admirable. And by the end, Emma seemed so much more humble and less meddling that I couldn't help but be very pleased with her character.

    My thoughts on Mr. Knightley are not as easily expressed; in the beginning I found him merely interesting, but somewhere in the middle he began to hold my interest as much as a mother would hold her infant (if that isn't too much of an odd metaphor); by the end he managed to surpass virtually all of the other male characters of which I've been exposed to. Granted, Mr. Knightley isn't in

    nearly enough for my satisfaction—but when he is, the aforesaid is all too true.

    I can't quite place my finger on what it is, exactly, about him that made such an impression on me—other than that I've always had a strong fascination with a true gentleman, being as that sort of thing is practically extinct in this day and age; also, I've grown very jaded with the often monotonous male characters of today.

    And I do believe that my reaction to Mr. Knightley has left me at a wonder as to just want my reaction will be upon meeting the famous Mr. Darcy. I'll doubtlessly swoon just as countless other lasses have since P&P debuted in 1813.

    I really think that my hesitation in reading this—as well as Austen's other works—has nothing to do with the writing, or the story, or the pacing; because, and I know this will sound strange, but, I've always loved a book that is just about people going about their daily lives and doing things—little trivial things, even—and simply

    ; people say that

    doesn't have much story and is really just people planning balls and Emma interfering in peoples' lives—but I loved all of that! I'll take everyday living over complex plots any day. No, I think the reason for my waiting so long is that I psyched myself out of reading something like this; I kept thinking that it would be too long or too boring or too archaic or too something or another, but in reality this is the very type of thing that I love to read about. Regency, Victorian, etc. . . . I love to read about all of the historical periods, and I'm so very glad that I stopped procrastinating.

    So, I enjoyed this a great deal and I've set a goal for myself to read all of Austen's works by this time next year (although I kindly ask you not you hold me to it ;)). I plan to continue with her other slightly lesser known titles, and finish with what appears to me to be the most well known and highly esteemed,

    . In a summary, I plan to save the best—or what is often said to be the best—for last.

    FAVORITE QUOTE:

    Although I have many favorite quotes from this (the rest can be read below), that particular quote stood out the most because it is so very true. Expect to see it in my future reviews.

    I highly recommend

    to everyone; both lovers and reluctant readers of classics.

  • Henry Avila
    Aug 06, 2014

    Emma , a young woman in Regency England, lives with her rich, but eccentric widowed father, Henry Woodhouse, in the rural village, of Highbury, always concerned about his health (hypochondriac, in the extreme), and anybody else's , Mr. Woodhouse, constantly giving unwanted advise to his amused friends and relatives, they tolerate the kindly old man. Miss Woodhouse ( they're very formal, in those days), is very class conscious, a bit of a snob ( but lovable), and will not be friends with people b

    Emma , a young woman in Regency England, lives with her rich, but eccentric widowed father, Henry Woodhouse, in the rural village, of Highbury, always concerned about his health (hypochondriac, in the extreme), and anybody else's , Mr. Woodhouse, constantly giving unwanted advise to his amused friends and relatives, they tolerate the kindly old man. Miss Woodhouse ( they're very formal, in those days), is very class conscious, a bit of a snob ( but lovable), and will not be friends with people below her perceived rank, the Woodhouse family, is the most prominent in the area, likes matchmaking, her friend and governess Miss Taylor, with a little help from Emma, married Mr.Weston, a close friend of their family, later regretted by both father and daughter, her presence is greatly missed. And her older sister Isabella, earlier had left to be the wife of John Knightley , and moved away, she is lonely. Emma chooses a protege, Harriet Smith, a seventeen year old girl, with an unknown background ( illegitimate? ), lives in Mrs.Goddard's boarding school for girls, hoping to groom the unfortunate young lady and raise her to a higher position in society. Besides the slightly spoiled Miss Woodhouse , even her friends call her by that name, will have a companion to talk to, Mr.Woodhouse's, company, lacks stimulation, understandably, how much talk about illness , the devoted daughter, or anyone , take? Emma believes she can discover people's emotions, by watching them, know who they love, not true, but that fact doesn't stop the lady from trying to marry off Harriet, thinking her own beaus, really want to marry Miss Smith, instead of her, big mistakes follow, hurt feelings, embarrassing situations, ironically the clueless Emma, encouraged Harriet to turn down Robert Martin, a farmer, with an excellent reputation, but a lowly position in the world. George Knightley , a nearby neighbor, the older brother of John, rents the farm to Mr.Martin, thinks very well of the young man ...Another neighbor , good Miss Bates, a spinster, never lacks words, too much so, for many, but her friends tolerate it, most of the time, her niece, the pretty, Jane Fairfax, her late sister's daughter, comes to visit her and her mother, the grandmother is happy also to see their beautiful relative. She plays the piano quite well and sings delightfully too, better than Emma, and the envious girl, becomes a rival, Miss Woodhouse has long been the local leader of society here, what there is of it...The prodigal son of Mr. Weston and his late first wife, returns, mysteriously (some secrets are hidden), Frank Weston Churchill, adopted by his rich aunt and uncle. Emma and Jane are attractive to the charming man , but the wise George Knightley doesn't feel he is a serious man, a bit of a fop, more interested in his appearance than anything else. A wonderful book about manners, class rank, and country society , of the landed gentry, in old England, that doesn't exist anymore...

  • Kai
    Nov 06, 2016

    Personally, I may have lost my self-control, but not my heart.

    My motivation to read this book stemmed from J.K. Rowling stating that this was one of her favourite books. A few years ago I read my first Jane Austen, which was

    , and I really enjoyed it.

    I thought

    couldn't be that bad, it's a popular classic and its rating is good. To be honest, it's not bad, exactly, but the fact that it took me one whole month to get throu

    Personally, I may have lost my self-control, but not my heart.

    My motivation to read this book stemmed from J.K. Rowling stating that this was one of her favourite books. A few years ago I read my first Jane Austen, which was

    , and I really enjoyed it.

    I thought

    couldn't be that bad, it's a popular classic and its rating is good. To be honest, it's not bad, exactly, but the fact that it took me one whole month to get through it says a lot. I had lots and lots of problems with this novel.

    1. Emma

    Such a vain and arrogant main character. I mean, I

    she is supposed to be an unlikeable character for literary reasons. But that doesn't make it any easier.

    2. Miss Bates

    Why

    wasting so much ink and paper on nonsense. Numerous pages of nonsense.

    3. They way people are

    Wait. Let me guess. That character is - wait for it - pleasant? The nicest person in the world? Of such sweet disposition? So generous, exceptional, kind, satisfactory and

    . Please save me.

    4. The way people talk

    Hours could go by and Emma and her father could talk about nothing but the pig they owned and had slaughtered, and what they'll make of it for dinner, and how nice it was that they gave some of it to the Bates, and if it was the right part of the pig they gave away, or if they should have given something else, but no it is all fine and

    , and that was very generous of them, and they will sure be very gratious, since they gave away such fine piece of pork, and won't dinner be nice and kick me on the shin pleasant.

    5. The plot

    Scratch 300 pages of nonsense and nervewracking pleasantness and this could have been a book I enjoyed.

  • Bookworm Sean
    Jun 22, 2016

    Austen paints a world of excess.

    She’s just so fucking brilliant. That much so I found the need to swear. The sarcasm is just oozing out of her words. She doesn’t need to tell you her opinions of society: she shows them to you.

    Simply put, Emma’s farther is a ridiculous prat. There’s no other word for it. He spends his day lounging around eating rich and expensive food and doesn’t bother to exercise his body or mental faculties. The thought of visiting his recently departed governess, a long-tim

    Austen paints a world of excess.

    She’s just so fucking brilliant. That much so I found the need to swear. The sarcasm is just oozing out of her words. She doesn’t need to tell you her opinions of society: she shows them to you.

    Simply put, Emma’s farther is a ridiculous prat. There’s no other word for it. He spends his day lounging around eating rich and expensive food and doesn’t bother to exercise his body or mental faculties. The thought of visiting his recently departed governess, a long-time family friend, is utterly deplorable. I mean, he can’t travel that far. She lives the great distance of half a mile away; thus, the only possibility is to hire a carriage. This is

    the only feasible solution to the problem. He is self-indulgent and spoilt, and in this Austen ushers in the origins of her heroine.

    Thankfully, Emma has a degree of sense. She is still a little spilt; she still has a great deal to learn but she isn’t her farther. In addition, the departure of her governess is an agreeable experience. She has empathy. Whilst she misses her friend and her teacher, she is genuinely happy for her. Unlike her farther, seeing her friend enter a loved filled marriage is an occasion for joy and celebration even if she dearly misses her company. So from very early on, Austen’s heroine is characterised as spoilt, her upbringing demands it so, but she is not without sense or a full awakening: she clearly has the capabilities of leading a successful life rather than one that resembles the useless vegetable state of her farther. She is a strong woman.

    She spends her days helping her new friend Harriet; she endeavours to find her the perfect husband, and sets about trying to improve her character. But through this, and her own naivety, Emma never considers her own youth, and that she, too, is in need of some degree of improvement. Thus sweeps in the straight shooter, the frank speaking, Mr Knightley. Emma has many reading lists (who doesn’t?) but she never bothers to complete them; she never finishes her own schedule: her own plans. She considers herself a true authority on marriage, on matchmaking, but her experience, her credentials, come from one fluke partnership. Her young age breeds arrogant ignorance. Because she has created one healthy marriage, she immediately thinks she knows what love is about: she thinks she will succeed again. And as a result she makes a series of terrible mistakes. Ones Mr Knightley is only too generous to point out.

    And this is Emma’s learning curve. Such irony!

    Through the course of the plot she truly discovers herself. Austen’s heroines are frequently deluded, and Emma is deluded by her own will. She has no idea what love is, and in her well-meant advice, she frequently mistakes simple things such as gratitude and simple kindness as romantic interest. Austen being the wonderfully comic writer that she is exploits this silly little misconception for the entire plot. Emma does finally get over herself. By the end she understands the feelings that are ready to burst forth from her own chest. Emma’s excess is her indulgence in her own opinion; she naively believes herself experienced when in reality she is juvenile, arrogant, self-absorbed, but full of real potential as a human being: she can do some good in this world and live for others. What she needed to do, and what Mr Knightly so desperately wanted to see, was for her to grow up. And she does: happiness reigns supreme.

    Simply put, it’s not. This lacked a plot driver. This wasn’t heading towards a clear and well defined fulfilment or resolution. I would certainly, and whole-heartedly, only recommend reading this one if you already enjoy Austen’s style. Whilst this does display Austen’s rapier wit in full force, the lack of narrative progress will scare most readers away. This has a great deal going for it, though it is terribly slow at points. If you’re not already an Austen lover, you should go read something else. For me though, I’m going to finally being reading

    soon. It will be very interesting to compare it to

    and see which is the best.

  • Melissa ♥ Dog Lover ♥ Martin
    Sep 14, 2016

    Okay, when I first started the book and was reading how Emma was taking happiness away from Harriet Smith by telling her that Mr. Martin wasn't good enough for her - I didn't like Emma at all.

    Now I can understand how Emma only wanted to do good by Harriet and that was how it was back in those days. But, as Mr. Knightely pointed out, Harriet was not from some wealthy family and Emma was doing the wrong thing in trying to find her a great husband. Mr. Knightley went to the trouble to help Mr. Mar

    Okay, when I first started the book and was reading how Emma was taking happiness away from Harriet Smith by telling her that Mr. Martin wasn't good enough for her - I didn't like Emma at all.

    Now I can understand how Emma only wanted to do good by Harriet and that was how it was back in those days. But, as Mr. Knightely pointed out, Harriet was not from some wealthy family and Emma was doing the wrong thing in trying to find her a great husband. Mr. Knightley went to the trouble to help Mr. Martin in how to go about asking for Harriet's hand in marriage and Emma shut that down. But lets just say it all worked out in the end.

    Emma went on a journey of trying to get people together. She wanted to bring people together and have them all married off. It seemed that it always back fired. Bless her heart for trying. She really was just trying to do good even though some of her thoughts and actions were not that kind.

    Emma's father, Mr. Woodhouse was a peculiar character. I can't say too much because it seemed that what they called "his nerves" back then, sounds just like some forms of my panic disorder and agoraphobia. So I'm not going to go on about him not wanting to leave the house or him hating for anyone leaving him, he had issues, so just leave him alone.

    It was such fun reading about the story line and all of the descriptions in the book. Some things reminded me of Pride & Prejudice in that way but of course I love that book better. But Emma was a little enchantment all on it's own.

    Then Emma tries to set Harriet up with Mr. Elton and that backfired as well as he had a crush on Emma. Poor Emma once again made a mistake.

    I did not like Frank Churchill from the start. There was just something devious about him. Emma didn't like certain things he did but she was a friend to him anyway.

    But getting to read about the love slowly unfolding between Mr. Knightly and Emma was so sweet. You could tell there was something there and they were both hiding it.

    Until the bitter end when Mr. Knightly finally confesses his love and Emma to him. And they had their wedding. How sweet is that, Emma finally finding her own love instead of trying to find it for others.

    I thought the book was really good and enjoyed it a great deal. ♥

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  • Zoë
    Dec 07, 2016

    This is my second favorite Jane Austen book, right behind Pride and Prejudice! I absolutely love Emma's character development and how she wasn't a perfect person right from the beginning. She had more than her fair share of flaws, but even so, I still really enjoyed her character? She had good intentions, even though they were truly quite selfish. Also, Mr. Knightley is my favorite Austen man ever (sorry, Mr. Darcy)!