Jane Austen was born at Steventon Parsonage, Hampshire, England, on December 16, 1775, the seventh of eight children. She was educated by her father and began her writing career with parodies and sketches meant for the amusement of her family. She published only four novels during her lifetime: Sense and Sensibility in 1811, Pride and Prejudice in 1813, Mansfield Park in 1814, and Emma in 1816. She died in 1817 at the age of only forty-one. Two more novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, were published after her death.
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About the Author
Born in 1775, Jane Austen published four of her six novels anonymously. Her work was not widely read until the late nineteenth century, and her fame grew from then on. Known for her wit and sharp insight into social conventions, her novels about love, relationships, and society are more popular year after year. She has earned a place in history as one of the most cherished writers of English literature.
Date of Birth:December 16, 1775
Date of Death:July 18, 1817
Place of Birth:Village of Steventon in Hampshire, England
Place of Death:Winchester, Hampshire, England
Education:Taught at home by her father
Read an Excerpt
Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.
She was the youngest of the two daughters of a most affectionate, indulgent father, and had, in consequence of her sister's marriage, been mistress of his house from a very early period. Her mother had died too long ago for her to have more than an indistinct remembrance of her caresses, and her place had been supplied by an excellent woman as governess, who had fallen little short of a mother in affection.
Sixteen years had Miss Taylor been in Mr. Woodhouse's family, less as a governess than a friend, very fond of both daughters, but particularly of Emma. Between them it was more the intimacy of sisters. Even before Miss Taylor had ceased to hold the nominal office of governess, the mildness of her temper had hardly allowed her to impose any restraint; and the shadow of authority being now long passed away, they had been living together as friend and friend very mutually attached, and Emma doing just what she liked; highly esteeming Miss Taylor's judgment, but directed chiefly by her own.
The real evils indeed of Emma's situation were the power of having rather too much of her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself; these were the disadvantages which threatened alloy to her many enjoyments. The danger, however, was at present so unperceived, that they did not by any means rank as misfortunes with her.
Sorrow came - a gentle sorrow - but not at all in the shape of any disagreeable consciousness. - Miss Taylor married. It was Miss Taylor's loss which first brought grief. It was on the wedding day of this beloved friend that Emma first sat in mournful thought of any continuance. The wedding over and the bride-people gone, her father and herself were left to dine together, with no prospect of a third to cheer a long evening. Her father composed himself to sleep after dinner, as usual, and she had then only to sit and think of what she had lost.
The event had every promise of happiness for her friend. Mr. Weston was a man of unexceptional character, easy fortune, suitable age and pleasant manners; and there was some satisfaction in considering with what self-denying, generous friendship she had always wished and promoted the match; but it was a black morning's work for her. The want of Miss Taylor would be felt every hour of every day. She recalled her past kindness - the kindness, the affection of sixteen years - how she had taught and how she had played with her from five years old - how she had devoted all her powers to attach and amuse her in health - and how nursed her through the various illnesses of childhood. A large debt of gratitude was owing here; but the intercourse of the last seven years, the equal footing and perfect unreserve which had soon followed Isabella's marriage on their being left to each other, was yet a dearer, tenderer recollection. It had been a friend and companion such as few possessed, intelligent, well-informed, useful, gentle, knowing all the ways of the family, interested in all its concerns, and peculiarly interested in herself, in every pleasure, every scheme of her's; - one to whom she could speak every thought as it arose, and who had such an affection for her as could never find fault.
How was she to bear the change? - It was true that her friend was going only half a mile from them; but Emma was aware that great must be the difference between a Mrs. Weston only half a mile from them, and a Miss Taylor in the house; and with all her advantages, natural and domestic, she was now in great danger of suffering from intellectual solitude. She dearly loved her father, but he was no companion for her. He could not meet her in conversation, rational or playful.
The evil of the actual disparity in their ages (and Mr. Woodhouse had not married early) was much increased by his constitution and habits; for having been a valetudinarian all his life, without activity of mind or body, he was a much older man in ways than in years; and though everywhere beloved for the friendliness of his heart and his amiable temper, his talents could not have recommended him at any time.
Her sister, though comparatively but little removed by matrimony, being settled in London, only sixteen miles off, was much beyond her daily reach; and many a long October and November evening must be struggled through at Hartfield, before Christmas brought the next visit from Isabella and her husband and their little children to fill the house and give her pleasant society again.
Highbury, the large and populous village almost amounting to a town, to which Hartfield, in spite of its separate lawn and shrubberies and name, did really belong, afforded her no equals. The Woodhouses were first in consequence here. All looked up to them. She had many acquaintance in the place, for her father was universally civil, but not one among them who could be accepted in lieu of Miss Taylor for even half a day. It was a melancholy change; and Emma could not but sigh over it and wish for impossible things, till her father awoke, and made it necessary to be cheerful. His spirits required support. He was a nervous man, easily depressed; fond of every body that he was used to, and hating to part with them; hating change of every kind. Matrimony, as the origin of change, was always disagreeable; and he was by no means yet reconciled to his own daughter's marrying, nor could ever speak of her but with compassion, though it had been entirely a match of affection, when he was now obliged to part with Miss Taylor too; and from his habits of gentle selfishness and of being never able to suppose that other people could feel differently from himself, he was very much disposed to think Miss Taylor had done as sad a thing for herself as for them, and would have been a great deal happier if she had spent all the rest of her life at Hartfield. Emma smiled and chatted as cheerfully as she could, to keep him from such thoughts; but when tea came, it was impossible for him not to say exactly as he had said at dinner,
"Poor Miss Taylor! - I wish she were here again. What a pity it is that Mr. Weston ever thought of her!"
"I cannot agree with you, papa; you know I cannot. Mr. Weston is such a good-humoured, pleasant, excellent man that he thoroughly deserves a good wife; - and you would not have had Miss Taylor live with us for ever and bear all my odd humours, when she might have a house of her own?"
"A house of her own! - but where is the advantage of a house of her own? This is three times as large. - And you have never any odd humours, my dear."
"How often we shall be going to see them and they coming to see us! - We shall be always meeting! We must begin, we must go and pay our wedding-visit very soon."
"My dear, how am I to get so far? Randalls is such a distance. I could not walk half so far."
"No, papa, nobody thought of your walking. We must go in the carriage to be sure."
"The carriage! But James will not like to put the horses to for such a little way; - and where are the poor horses to be while we are paying our visit?"
"They are to be put into Mr. Weston's stable, papa. You know we have settled all that already. We talked it all over with Mr. Weston last night. And as for James, you may be very sure he will always like going to Randalls, because of his daughter's being housemaid there. I only doubt whether he will ever take us anywhere else. That was your doing, papa. You got Hannah that good place. Nobody thought of Hannah till you mentioned her - James is so obliged to you!"
"I am very glad I did think of her. It was very lucky, for I would not have had poor James think himself slighted upon any account; and I am sure she will make a very good servant; she is a civil, pretty-spoken girl; I have a great opinion of her. Whenever I see her, she always curtseys and asks me how I do, in a very pretty manner; and when you have had her here to do needlework, I observe she always turns the lock of the door the right way and never bangs it. I am sure she will be an excellent servant; and it will be a great comfort to poor Miss Taylor to have somebody about her that she is used to see. Whenever James goes over to see his daughter you know, she will be hearing of us. He will be able to tell her how we all are."
Table of Contents
|About the Series||v|
|About This Volume||vii|
|About the Text||xi|
|Part 1||Emma: The Complete Text in Cultural Context|
|Introduction: Biographical and Historical Contexts||3|
|The Complete Text||21|
|Contextual Documents and Illustrations||382|
|from Unfortunate Situation of Females, Fashionably Educated, and Left without a Fortune. (1787)||387|
|from Letter to His Son (1750)||389|
|from Essays on the Picturesque (1810)||390|
|from Our Domestic Policy. No I. (1829)||391|
|Opinions of Emma (Ca. 1816)||392|
|Crossed Letter from Jane Austen to Cassandra (June 20, 1808)||398|
|The Frolics of the Sphynx (1820)||399|
|Square Pianoforte (1805)||400|
|A Barouche Landau (1805)||401|
|A View of Box Hill, Surrey (1733)||401|
|The Lincolnshire Ox (1790)||402|
|Part 2||Emma: A Case Study in Contemporary Criticism|
|A Critical History of Emma||405|
|Gender Criticism and Emma||425|
|What Is Gender Criticism?||425|
|Gender Criticism: A Selected Bibliography||437|
|A Gender Studies Perspective: Claudia L. Johnson, "Not at all what a man should be!": Remaking English Manhood in Emma||441|
|Marxist Criticism and Emma||456|
|What Is Marxist Criticism?||456|
|Marxist Criticism: A Selected Bibliography||470|
|A Marxist Perspective: Beth Fowkes Tobin, Aiding Impoverished Gentlewomen: Power and Class in Emma||473|
|Cultural Criticism and Emma||488|
|What Is Cultural Criticism?||488|
|Cultural Criticism: A Selected Bibliography||503|
|A Cultural Perspective: Paul Delany, "A Sort of Notch in the Donwell Estate": Intersections of Status and Class in Emma||508|
|The New Historicism and Emma||524|
|What Is the New Historicism?||524|
|The New Historicism: A Selected Bibliography||538|
|A New Historicist Perspective: Casey Finch and Peter Bowen, "The Tittle-Tattle of Highbury": Gossip and the Free Indirect Style in Emma||543|
|Feminist Criticism and Emma||559|
|What Is Feminist Criticism?||559|
|Feminist Criticism: A Selected Bibliography||569|
|A Feminist Perspective: Devoney Looser, "The Duty of Woman by Woman": Reforming Feminism in Emma||577|
|Combining Perspectives on Emma||594|
|Combining Perspectives: Marilyn Butler, Introduction to Emma||597|
|Glossary of Critical and Theoretical Terms||615|
|About the Contributors||635|
What People are Saying About This
"To me, as an American critic, Emma seems the most Englilsh of English novels....It is Austin's masterpiece, the largest triumph of her vigorous art."
Reading Group Guide
1. Describe the class and rank of various characters in the village of Highbury. Compare the positions of Mr. Weston, Mr. Elton, Miss Taylor, Harriet, and Emma with others in Highbury. How do matters of class affect the interaction of these characters, and would you describe class as being rigid or flexible as it is depicted by Jane Austen? To what extent can class be said to be of central importance to the development of the novel, since it is one of the most important considerations in marriage? Does class seem to be treated differently by those in Highbury than it does by outsiders, for example Frank Churchill and Mrs. Elton? Do you think it is significant that no woman in Highbury is of Emma's age and rank?
2. How does the relationship between Mr. Knightley and Emma change throughout the course of the novel? Although Austen does not directly tell us what their relationship was like during Emma's childhood, their long and intimate friendship is established at the novel's opening. In light of their occasional quarrels and Knightley's criticisms of Emma, for example, the criticism he made on Box Hill, how does Mr. Knightley feel about Emma? Do Mr. Knightley's feelings change as the novel progresses? If they do, what incidents account for the changes in his feelings?
3. Does Emma act as a good friend to Harriet Smith? Are Emma's concerns for Harriet's education and refinement born of an honest desire to help, or is it something less altruistic? Are Mr. Knightley's criticisms of Emma's interference with Mr. Martin's marriage proposal justified? Does Harriet ultimately benefit from Emma's friendship or her attempts to help her?
4. While matchmaking isthe central device in Emma, both for the plot and as a backdrop to develop characters, not all of the matches made in the novel are good. Compare the matches made between Mr. Weston and Miss Taylor, Emma and Mr. Knightley, Harriet and Mr. Martin, Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill, and Mr. Elton and Mrs. Elton. Which are good matches and which are bad? What character traits in the couples make them suited or unsuited for each other? Why are the mismatches so important to the story?
5. In the final analysis, is Emma a sympathetic character? Does she seem to have good intentions only marred by a slight desire to interfere with other people's lives, or is she thoughtless and unconcerned with the effects she has on others? In your estimation, is Emma ultimately moral or immoral? What specific incidents in the novel lead you to that conclusion?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
While I love Pride and Prejudice the best, Emma is definitely my second favorite of Ausent's works. I prefer the story of the former novel, but other than that I can say that I love, love, absolutely love Emma. As much as I adore Mr. Darcy (Along with every other female in the world) it must be confessed that I am madly in love with Mr. Knightly, and I read the entire book just for the scenes he is in. Although Pride and Prejudice can be called perfect, I find the Declaration-of-Love scene in Emma to be much more endearing and wonderful. I find that love of Pride and Prejudice generally has to be shared, since it is such a well known story, even to the most illiterate of people. As Emma is not as ubiquitously loved, I feel like the book has a more exclusive place in my heart, and that makes me love it all the more.
Emma is a hilarious novel which I thoroughly enjoyed. As I escaped into the twists and turns of the social circle in Emma's small town, I found myself laughing, crying, berating characters, and gushing about how much I loved this book. Emma's blindness to what is going on around her in the way of love endears her even more. Emma is beautiful, charming, and what every young lady in those days ought to be. She's a dutiful daughter, and usually very proper, though she has a love of matchmaking, something she really isn't very good at. She encounters very memorable characters and finds herself in the end.
Jane Austen is one of the most talented novelists I know of. The first book I read by Austen is Pride and Prejudice, and when I had the opportunity to read another for pleasure as well as academics, I couldn’t pass it up. The novel, Emma, consists of advanced vocabulary and complex word phrasing, but with a dictionary by my side, nothing was in my way. Once I picked it up, it was hard to put it back down. In the novel Emma, Emma Woodhouse is the only lady in the house of many men. She therefore makes all the important decisions and has a degree of power and independence. Throughout the life of Emma, there are many situations in which any typical teenage girl can relate to. Emma doesn’t believe in finding her so called soul mate, so she meddles with others’ to help them find theirs. Regardless, she is admired and respected by all. One of the most powerful messages I acquired from this novel is learning that you cannot prevent the inevitable. Whatever road you are on is the one you are meant to take. To get to the man of her dreams, Mr. Knightley, it wasn't quite the simplest road ever. She goes through five weddings, a half-dozen major misunderstandings, and 400 pages pass before she learns of it, but Emma's ending is as happy and triumphant as the close of Pride and Prejudice. In the beginning of the book up until about the 250 page mark, the story is somewhat slow, but as Emma discovers that her love matchmaking isn’t quite working out for her, Mr. Knightley’s charm speeds up the book. Although the language is somewhat difficult to interpret, it's worth the read. The story is witty, charming and full of loveable characters. I guarantee that you will have the hardest time putting the book down. Although Emma is one of the longer books Jane Austen has written, it is inspirational in every way from beginning to end. It is a comedy of Emma as she learns to find her happily ever after. Emma is, without a doubt, one of the best books I have read in a very long time. I rarely ever have the time to pick up a well written book and read it from front to back, but I can honestly say that this book fulfilled that need; definitely a good book to pick up on a rainy weekend.
I loved Emma. Then again, I also loved Clueless, and guess which one was easier to get through?
Emma Woodhouse is a character who is wealthy, prejudiced, witty yet ignorant, innocent yet blameable, and altogether lovely. She is admired by her friends and held in doting compassion by all of her readers. When Emma seeks to aid her poor, orphaned friend Harriet Smith in finding a rich husband, she sets herself up for learning a few very difficult life lessons. She learns what it is to be humbled, to be wrong, to be accused, and, ultimately, to be forgiven. Jane Austen had a knack for writing good, clean romances with somewhat surprising endings. In Pride and Prejudice, there is an elopement. In Sense and Sensibility, there is a canceled engagement. In Emma, there is a secret engagement between two characters which is not revealed until the end. It is very common knowledge that Austen did not believe her readers would like her Emma. Despite what the authoress may have originally thought, Emma is still in print after two hundred years of being enjoyed by generation upon generation of readers. The story is beautiful, imaginative, and realistic- a story that people of every age can fully appreciate. Emma Woodhouse seems to be perfect. She is attractive, wealthy, and graceful. She visits the poor, attends church, and nourishes her friendships. But, like all mankind, she has little flaws hiding beneath her bonnet. She harbors a high opinion of herself and of her intellect. She feels that she is capable of speaking things into existence. She learns, as we all do, that her whims and fancies must be bridled. She learns that her opinions are not superior and that she does not possess power over love. I greatly enjoyed reading Emma. She was someone I could relate to, understand, laugh at, cry with, and applaud in the end.
such a sweet story so many good lessons to be learned
This was my first time reading this book, and just to preface, I’ve never been a huge fan of the “classics”. The books we were required to read all throughout school? I hated about 99% of them. Anyhoo. For those like me who didn’t know the premise of Emma, it’s about a girl, Emma (what an apt title for the novel), who is of high status in her little country town/society. She’s beautiful, clever, and witty, and she knows this. She’s also spoiled and conceited, and thinks herself above those of lesser fortune/status. Charming, eh? She also claims to be good at reading people and at matchmaking because she was able to make one (1) successful marriage match between her old governess and a guy called Mr. Weston. Emma then befriends a young poor girl of questionable/unknown parentage, Harriet, and attempts to match her (unsuccessfully, I might add) to various gentlemen who are way above Harriet’s social status, which are the reason these matches were unsuccessful. I thought it was rather hilarious that Emma thought she was great at seeing romance between people and at matchmaking when she herself was stubbornly resolved to stay single her whole life. And as the novel went on, she turned out to be an awful matchmaker, which caused a lot of hurt, heartbreak, and embarrassment. Emma also treats people she deems as being beneath her rudely. She has nasty thoughts and opinions of Miss Bates and Jane Fairfax, both beneath her in social status, and it’s only when her old friend George Knightley calls her out on her cruelness that she finally finally begins to change. Her change is really sudden and quick and felt a little rushed to me, but at least Emma wasn’t being completely horrible anymore. But then there was a little stumble when Harriet confessed to being in love with Mr. Knightley and Emma thought that if only she’d resisted meddling in Harriet’s love life then she (Emma) would be spared her current pain because Emma realizes she’s actually in love with Mr. Knightley. That was also something I didn’t find quiet believable about the story. The whole novel, Emma was dead set against getting married, then all of a sudden as soon as Harriet claims she loves George Knightley, Emma wants Mr. Knightley’s affection. All in all, I enjoyed the book well enough. The biggest thing I took issue with was Emma’s insufferable personality for the first 90% of the story. I really enjoyed all of the other characters and I’m glad pretty much everyone got their happy ending.
This great classic of early 19th century English literature tells the story of Emma Woodhouse, a wealthy young woman of twenty-one years of age who has all the desirable attributes of beauty, intelligence and good breeding on her side, but has no intentions of marrying. She likes to think of herself as a talented matchmaker and decides to take young Harriet, a trusting and unsophisticated, though very pretty girl, under her wing. She proposes to educate Harriet and teach her the refinements of the upper classes to prepare her for a brilliant match to a real gentleman. Emma is a heroine that many readers find unpleasant, and her archness and snobbery combined with willfulness and naiveté certainly set her up for humbling experiences. Though I can't say I thought her especially likeable, I did think her rather amusing and I found the process by which Emma grows into womanhood to be delightful. Even the predictable ending was gratifying, which I should mention to those who don't know me, signals a great change in my attitude towards Jane Austen's work. I should say that I would probably never have appreciated, nor rated this novel so highly if it weren't for the excellent tutoring of an LT member who explained patiently and at length some of the historical elements and customs which most modern readers such as myself weren't aware of. This in turn gave me a much greater appreciation for all the subtleties and humour in the play on social conventions which Austen is most known for.
Jane Austen's humorous portrayal of a spoiled, but likeable, young woman whose ill-considered interferences in the romantic lives of her social circle is delightfully funny. Much less serious than Pride and Prejudice, Emma is full of charming wit as the author pokes fun at all and sundry of her characters. I found the ever-fretting Mr. Woodhouse to be one of the funniest characters I've ever encountered in literature, the voluble Miss Bates quite comic, and the captious Mrs. Elton the pretentious bore I love to despise.In one sense, the novel is a fairly predictable series of romantic confusions and misconceptions¿reminding me of a comedy from Shakespeare or Sheridan. Emma has such a high opinion of her own infallibility and matchmaking ability, and yet is so patently bad at it, that the reader can always see the next pitfall as she blunders along. However, the charm and humor the author has invested in the work keep us viewing her with affectionate indulgence.If your only encounter is with pale imitations such as the movie "Clueless", I really recommend a try at this novel.
I love the way in which Austin rips her society to shreads good-naturedly. Mr. Knightly is comperable to Mr. Darcy. But where is the romance?
This was my first Jane Austen book, and also the first book that I ever owned (my grandfather got it for me when I was born), although definitely not the first book that I read (it took me 14-15 years for that). Because Emma isn't as perfect as Elizabeth Bennett (Pride & Prejudice) or Anne Wentworth (Persuasion), it's a little harder to like her completely. In fact, I found her annoying at first. But over time, one grows to appreciate Emma's complexity and how real she is. Definitely Austen's most mature work.
I love Austen, and this book is one of her best. The character of Emma is great. She is a fun person and really human. She is a romantic that wants everyone to be happy, but makes so many mistakes along the way. I like the era the novel is set in, with everyone very much set in their social status. The other characters are great, my favourite being Miss Bates.
This novel, possibly Austen's best, is full of vivid characters, romance, and foolish confusion. Emma, the title character, is a young lady of high standing in her village and is preoccupied with matchmaking and other people's relationships yet firmly insistent that she will never marry herself. She is so intent on penetrating others' hearts and minds that she neglects her own and is completely oblivious to what she really wants and how she really feels.Her errors in judgement and perception bring about amusing and sometimes painful results.Although I must say that Persuasion is probably my favourite Austen I think that Emma is probably her best. The most ironic and satirical of her works, Emma has an edge that other Austen works lack. Perhaps it was Jane's own stage of life and circumstances combined with her failing health that urged her to write a novel with such a damning portrayal of certain common society types. While Austen did always aim to poke fun at those she saw as silly, dissolute, foppish, foolish, or snobbish this novel is different in that the faults of characters with those traits are more clearly shown and bitingly criticised.I like it and I like it.
The thing I like most about Emma is the fact that she is not perfect, like a lot of other novel characters. What adds to that, is the fact that, as a reader, you pick up on a lot of things that Emma doesn't realize, so you can sort of gloat about her naivety. The mini-series that was recently made is very good, and for me added to the fun I had while rereading the book.
I have just finished reading this book and I really enjoyed it. Jane Austen is one of my favourite writers and Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite books. Thus, I decided to read this book and I must say that I was not at all disappointed. Emma is an interesting character, and even though she seems to have it all (she is ¿handsome, clever, and rich¿), she still has some flaws that make her likeable and that make the plot engaging. The reader observes from the beginning that the protagonist is rather spoiled and that she overestimates her own matchmaking skills. She thinks that she has the talent to find suitable husbands for her friends. However, as the story proceeds, one can see that she has no real talent for matchmaking and that she rather causes a lot of heartache and misunderstandings. That¿s because she thinks highly of herself and doesn¿t want to listen to anybody. In the end, she realizes the damage she has done and realizes that she is in love. Emma undergoes an emotional transformation and acknowledges her faults and that¿s why I like her so much. Overall, I really like the book because of its themes, the likable characters and the plot.
Jane Austen's finest. Her language and imagery is vivid and exquisite as always. However, the plot in Emma is so much more extravagant with its twists, turns, and love triangles. It is no wonder that novelists and movie makers today are still trying to match it's genius and modernizing it as they did with Clueless.It is easy to see why Jane Austen has remained one the of the best authors of all time.
Emma Woodhouse is delusional living in her contemporary society of Highbury, England. Caught up in her own conceit of being a "good doer" she makes judgment calls that in the end benefit no one and only cause a myriad of problems to arise. She becomes tangled up in match making only to find herself falling in love which she swore never to do. Most of her problems could simply be avoided if she would have just kept her nose out of other people's business. In the end everything comes together and all live happily ever after as always.
My favorite book by my favorite author.
I¿m sure much has been written about the longevity of Jane Austen¿s works of proper English life during the early 19th century, but you have to wonder why, at this time, her novels of keen social commentary immersed in drawing room drama and provincial balls, continue to enjoy such a wide readership. When you consider the lack of manners today, it¿s hard to understand why so many of us enjoy her social commentary of a time long past. But enjoy them we do and Emma is no exception.Emma Woodhouse proudly proclaims to all who will listen that she never intends to marry. Rather she spends her young life meddling in those of others, mainly playing matchmaker, to mostly disastrous results. Nothing seems to stop her though, to the detriment especially of her young, decidedly lower class, friend Harriet. Emma¿s object is to raise Harriet¿s station in life. Early on in the book, I did not find Emma appealing at all. I mean, she was methodically destroying Harriet¿s life. For someone who was so obviously aware of the importance of the English hierarchy regarding class, it never occurred to Emma that by matching Harriet with a young man of higher station she would thereby lower his and that just wasn¿t going to happen as her friend, Mr. Knightly, points out.At any rate, Emma cannot be convinced of her own folly and along the way we are treated to Austen¿s trademark satire and biting wit. She doesn¿t fail to provide for a few deliciously drawn supporting characters including Emma¿s father, who is scared of his own shadow and the possibility that someone, anyone will suffer from the fatal effects of a draft; his neighbor Miss Bates, whose non-stop chatter absolutely grates on the nerves and the obsequious prattler Mrs. Elton. How these people exist and even thrive in each other¿s company is beyond the pale. A conversation between Emma and Mrs. Elton went like this:¿¿My brother and sister will be enchanted with this place. People who have extensive grounds themselves are always pleased with anything in the same style.¿ Emma doubted the truth of this sentiment. She had a great idea that people who had extensive grounds themselves cared very little for the extensive grounds of anybody else, but it was not worthwhile to attack an error so double-dyed.¿As the narrative progresses Austen tosses the omniscient reader bits of information that enable you to piece together the clues and come to the proper conclusion. My early misgivings about Emma are soon overcome as I realize that she actually considers her meddling to be a service and, at heart, she is trying to help poor Harriet. Once again when Mr. Knightley points out her faulty thinking it becomes apparent that Emma is actually ¿faultless in spite of all her faults.¿ This made her endearing to me although Austen claimed before the book was even written, ¿I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.¿ Well, I liked her and loved her tale. Highly recommended.
This is another one of those classic books that I love to read every now-and-then. The first time I tried to read it without having any prior knowledge of the plot, I had trouble keeping all the characters straight (name changes and using only surnames is difficult to follow sometimes). I find that to be true of many period novels. However, after watching a few film and TV versions it's much easier and I picked up on the little nuances of the relationships. This story definitely makes for a great screenplay, but I adore the novel as well.
Not my favorite Jane Austen, but still enjoyable, interesting and fun. I like the issues of finances and livelihood that appear in her other books. While Emma herself has none of of those problems or concerns it in a way makes her harder to be "liked" by the reader and she is likable, so that says something! While I enjoyed reading all of it, the language and the emotional lives and stores, I sometimes wondered if it was unnecessarily long. Nah, probably just right, not "too many notes".One thing that has nothing to do with the book. What is that picture on the front? (Of my copy) Maybe it is supposed to express the type of woman Emma is, but I don't like it because is not period. The book, published in 1816 and the painting (I did some research) was done in 1845. Cothing in 1816 and in 1845...completely different!
Austen is such a craftsman with words, but I do not find her plot lines that interesting. Still it is a pleasure to read such a well crafted narrative. I liked "Pride and Prejudice" better. She would be my favorite author should she write about war and violence.
This audiobook version of Emma was outstanding, due to the vocal talents of Prunella Scales, a British actress who some Americans will remember as the wife in "Fawlty Towers." She brings Emma and her family, friends, and neighbors to life in aural technicolor. Her rendition of the ailing Mr. Woodhouse, who finds everyone around him to be "poor miss so-and-so" for reasons that anyone else would rejoice at (such as the marriage of Miss Taylor, Emma's governess) is hilarious. And Miss Bates, the garrulous but kind-hearted spinster who barely pauses for breath when she speaks, is, well, breathtaking. Made the hours spent on the highway fly by. Was sorry to hear it end!
OK - thankfully, it got better. The first part of the book was torturous - Emma was an unbearable snobbish brat. The book improved once Jane Fairfax and Frank Church entered the picture. And I must confess a major crush on Mr. Knightley.I think I read too much, however, because I knew who was going to hook up with who from the very beginning. I had all the couples properly paired -- maybe I should be a matchmaker!Emma was bratty - although she seemed to improve a bit by the end. I'm glad I don't have to hang out with her in real life, but at least she demonstrated some redeeming qualities.
Very enjoyable, Emma is a beguiling character. I didn't love it like I do Pride and Prejudice, however, hence the four stars. Emma is no Elizabeth Bennett. There's also rather a lot of misunderstandings throughout the book (for instance, Emma believing Harriet to be in love with Frank Churchill), a plot device I find irritating in books and movies. Nonetheless, a very enjoyable read.