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The most perfect of Jane Austen¡¯s perfect novels begins with twenty-one-year-old Emma Woodhouse comfortably dominating the social order in the village of Highbury, convinced that she has both the understanding and the right to manage other people¡¯s lives¨Cfor their own good, of course. Her well-meant interfering centers on the aloof Jane Fairfax, the dangerously attractive Frank Churchill, the foolish if appealing Harriet Smith, and the ambitious young vicar Mr. Elton¨Cand ends with her complacency shattered, her mind awakened to some of life¡¯s more intractable dilemmas, and her happiness assured.
Jane Austen¡¯s comic imagination was so deft and beautifully fluent that she could use it to probe the deepest human ironies while setting before us a dazzling gallery of characters¨Csome pretentious or ridiculous, some admirable and moving, all utterly true.
From the Hardcover edition.
Of all Jane Austen's heroines, Emma Woodhouse is the most flawed, the most infuriating, and, in the end, the most endearing. Pride and Prejudice's Lizzie Bennet has more wit and sparkle; Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey more imagination; and Sense and Sensibility's Elinor Dashwood certainly more sense--but Emma is lovable precisely because she is so imperfect. Austen only completed six novels in her lifetime, of which five feature young women whose chances for making a good marriage depend greatly on financial issues, and whose prospects if they fail are rather grim. Emma is the exception: "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." One may be tempted to wonder what Austen could possibly find to say about so fortunate a character. The answer is, quite a lot.
For Emma, raised to think well of herself, has such a high opinion of her own worth that it blinds her to the opinions of others. The story revolves around a comedy of errors: Emma befriends Harriet Smith, a young woman of unknown parentage, and attempts to remake her in her own image. Ignoring the gaping difference in their respective fortunes and stations in life, Emma convinces herself and her friend that Harriet should look as high as Emma herself might for a husband--and she zeroes in on an ambitious vicar as the perfect match. At the same time, she reads too much into a flirtation with Frank Churchill, the newly arrived son of family friends, and thoughtlessly starts a rumor about poor but beautiful Jane Fairfax, the beloved niece of two genteelly impoverished elderly ladies in the village. As Emma's fantastically misguided schemes threaten to surge out of control, the voice of reason is provided by Mr. Knightly, the Woodhouse's longtime friend and neighbor. Though Austen herself described Emma as "a heroine whom no one but myself will much like," she endowed her creation with enough charm to see her through her most egregious behavior, and the saving grace of being able to learn from her mistakes. By the end of the novel Harriet, Frank, and Jane are all properly accounted for, Emma is wiser (though certainly not sadder), and the reader has had the satisfaction of enjoying Jane Austen at the height of her powers. --Alix Wilber
- this book bored me. does that make me a bad person?
the first chapter is a model of precision. in only nine pages, a handful of characters are introduced with masterful clarity. subtle dialouge paints a portrait of each character with a depth that many novelists never achieve over the course of hundreds of pages. jane austen's supreme talent is shining bright. then what happens? it goes on and on and on. and i got severely bored. i did not care about emma's social schemes, her obssession with ones rank within society. she is simply a dull character. and the language ultimately grows tiresome. the purple prose weighed heavy on my poor brain after a hundred pages. a bit beyond page 220 i jumped ship. i simply could not finish the book. sorry....more info
- Manipulating Affairs of the Heart
Genteel society in early 19th century England proved resourceful in conjuring up their own rural entertainment. Dinner parties, amateur musicales, cards, charades and balls provided indoor amusement, while picnics, local excursions or taking the waters in fancy resorts took the restless upper crust out of doors. Lacking telephones and even telegrams Austen's characters relied on local mail delivery by their servants or trusted in the efficiency of the British Post to bring detailed, epistolary news into their information-starved lives.
While the men discussed politics and their farming interests, most ladies devoted great mental and verbal energy to schemes for romance-encouraging or quashing. The fair sex plotted and surmised about their neighbors and relatives'affections for one another. In true Victorian style pregnancy was hushed over, but village gossips took great delight in pondering such weighty matters as one's birth, social station and probable inheritance.
In addition the whims of older relatives must be humored at all cost, since they held the of purse strings which could make or break the success of a young person's suit. Marriage after all was still more in the interest of the parents than for the sake of actual love.
Twenty-one-year old Emma Woodhouse is the younger daughter and mistress of the home of her elderly father. Having recently lost her young governess/companion to marriage, Emma undertakes a new social challenge: to mentor in her turn 17-year-old Harriet-a recent graduate of a local boarding school. The plot revolves around Emma`s subtle attempt to mold Harriet's immature heart in certain directions, indicated by insincere behavior on the part of various young men. Having frustrated what she considers an inferior proposal on Harriet's behalf, Emma gradually learns that she has meddled too much and caused needless unhappiness.
Several young couples court and become engaged in the course of this light novel, but all is not as it seems on the surface, due to a secret engagement and surprising twists of Cupid's darts. Harriet's heart is easily swayed by suggestions and appearances--without direct, verbal confirmation--so it is Emma who matures the most. She has long been sensitive of the good opinion of her 31-year-old neighbor, Mr. Knightly, who on two occasions finds it necessary to reprove her thoughtless behavior. What does she care, since she has already declared that will never marry-which would mean deserting her doting but
This novel is Austen-lite, though in extensive format (over 400 pages), with many long letters which fill in the off stage action--which proves to be wherever our Emma is Not present. The heroine's own tender heart is swayed first by this man, then by another. The advent of young persons into the village of Highbury is welcomed by local society-ever appreciative of newcomers to the social mix. Inside these pages one encounters the typical village gossips and snobs of course, who make everyone's business their private agenda. Ah, how will these impetuous young persons sort out their feelings and
relationships? Especially without antagonizing or distressing their elders? EMMA is almost a sly treatise on early Victorian social and moral restrictions, delightfully disguised as a novel.
- Tough going
Reading this novel was slow going. As a guy, I found the lack of action stultifying, and the flashes of humor were too quaint for me to derive any pleasure from them. The answer to the book's primary riddle--who shall Emma marry?--becomes obvious early on, and everything else is just a tedious pairing off until that riddle is expressly answered. There's a bit of local and historical color, but rarely does the narrative rise above the description of, say, a summer outing. Not one of Jane Austen's best....more info
- Slow going but worth the read
Had this story been written in a more contemporary style, my review would have been totally favorable. I found the story to be quite sweet, with great characters and a wholesome storyline.
Unfortunately, this particular style of writing for me, as a fourteen year old, was a tad daunting. I found it slow, with way too many words and descriptions. I found myself often wishing she would just get to the point.I would have awarded more stars if it wasn't so difficult for me to get through....more info
- Satisfying Romance
This book was a pretty funny societal review from Jane Austen's point of view, pointing out the hypocrisies of London at the time but not failing to do justice to the integretity of the characters. I loved the book...what more can I say? It's definitely geared towards females, obviously, but anyone can read it for lighthearted, enjoyable reading. It isn't that long of a book, and, after all, its a classic. So read it as soon as possible!...more info
- Adorable and Fun
This is such an adorable and fun piece of literature. Austen's language is filled with eloquent and ironic humor following the life of Emma Woodhouse and her failing matchmaking schemes, ultimately culminating in her ignorance of her own true love. This is a very easy going and fun read, filled with Austen's clever charm and smooth tone of voice. Highly recommended!
This is the first time that I am writing an Amazon review, and I am doing it because this novel is possibly the worst book that I have ever read. The book has no plot. It is simply a love story with some irony mixed into the plot. Jane Austen is a terrible writer who takes three pages to describe a simple idea, and clearly she does not know that run-on sentences are not appealing to readers. Some sentences even go on for pages. Please do not read this book or any of Jane Austen's books! They are all trash with no plotline and shallow characters. Yes, I do hate Jane Austen....more info
- The best book i've ever read
I've been reading ever since I was younger, and have always enjoyed it.. After reading all of Nicholas Sparks novels, I decided to go in a different direction and read some classics.. I decided upon Jane Austen after reading reviews of her novels.. So I bought Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, and Emma.. I choose Emma to read first because I thought it would be less interesting than the others.. How wrong I was! I absolutely loved this book, it's the best novel I have ever read.. Now I fear that the others will not be nearly as good as this one.. I agree with the others that the beginning is rather slow, but it picks up towards the middle so just stick with it! You will not be sorry.. I have no other words to describe this book other than amazing! ...more info
- Aunt Jane, Georgian Spinster Queen of English Prose
I'm reading Emma again for the third time. It happened like this: I thought I'd try an audio book on CD for the first time, something to listen to in the car besides music. Scanning the shelves at the local bookstore, I saw loads of contemporary best sellers, self and financial help, new age and evangelical Christian spirituality, and Jane Austen's Emma in MP3 format, all on one disc. Austen! Water in the desert! I scooped her up.
For the last week I've been listening to her in my car. At the beginning it was without much concentration. Over the next few days my attention gradually increased. Now I'm hooked. Down the throat. Through the gut. Again. It happens to me every time I return to Jane. I just can't get enough. The last two nights I've gone to bed reading ahead of where I've listened. Even though the story is coming back to me, I'm still taken by it, hook line & sinker. Jane's reeling me in, and the line is utterly slack.
Now, I am a guy. I break out in hives if I happen to accidentally brush a romance novel. As far as I am concerned, bodice rippers where the tall olive skinned duke inevitably has his forceful yet gentle way with the heroine are good only as ammunition with which to tease the women in my life who enjoy such tripe. Having said this, I realize a lot of people also refer to Jane Austen as "Chick Lit," equating her with the likes of Nicolas Sparks. For the record, those people are on crack.
Austen is much more a comedic writer than a writer of what we call romances. She is simply a hoot. Subtle disjunctures and ironies build to exquisite crescendos. She has me laughing every other page. Her characters, even her unpleasant and ridiculous ones, tend to breed sympathy. Like most of my favorite books, she creates worlds, or a world, really (all of her books are set in the same historic and geographic milieu,) which comforts and gladdens. The feeling I get from her is much like the feeling I get when I read Tolkien describe the Shire or Last Homely House, or something like the children's book Frog & Toad to my niece.
It's an eating poached egg on toast snuggled up inside under a quilt on the couch with a cup of tea on a rainy day kind of feeling. (Don't you just love English prepositions and phrasal verbs? Try doing that in French! Austen and phrasal verbs: two of the many reasons English speakers ought to rejoice in their language, I say!)
Anyway, during all of her stories, including Emma, Europe was being blown apart by the Napoleonic Wars, and the only oblique references in any of her stories to that maelstrom is that Great Britain has a mobilized Army (Pride & Prejudice) and an active Navy (Persuasion.) The reason the military is important has nothing to do with Austerlitz, Waterloo, Trafalgar or any of that nonsense. Rather, it is that both services have officers which make very suitable suitors for women of her heroines' social positions (Lt. Wickham & Capt. Wentworth, for example.)
Some brand this awful: elitist, sexist, parochial. I, for one, find it beautiful. Small, intimate, ordered, secure, anchored. Very human and sane, that is.
What matters most is not what some silly diminutive one armed Corsican with maniacal delusions of world conquest is doing; no. What really matters is whether and how Mr. Woodhouse takes his gruel, or if Mr. Elton will propose to Harriet. Or if Mr. Knightly and Mrs. Weston have come to visit yet, today. Will Mr. Frank Churchill come, and what is he like? Has Emma truly foiled Mr. Martin's advances on her friend, he being an entirely unsuitable yeoman farmer? Harriet must marry a gentleman, you see.
Just so. Indeed, these are truly the things that mattered- and still matter- most. Don't let the history books and the reverse snobbery of some critics fool you.
Instead go read this book, and every other that Jane wrote, and prepare to be enchanted. ...more info
- EMMA: A Novel Of Growing Self-Awareness
In the constricted world of Jane Austen's EMMA, there is a general lack of a sense that anything exists beyond that which Emma can see or Austen can relate. Emma, her family, and friends live either in the small town of Hartfield or its equally miniscule environs. The action of the novel is more or less coterminous with the very real events of the Industrial Revolution, the French Revolution, or even just some whooping and hollering of some village bad boys. This smallness of space is matched by a smallness of psychological depth. Austen tacitly assumes that good is ubiquitous, and where good seems to be lacking, its normal contrary is not evil at all. Those who show a deficiency of good either are merely mischievous or are incapable of doing no more than sputtering about their evil. Further, those who sputter do so in isolation and do not seriously disrupt the social order. They are neither punished nor remorseful. In the interactions among the characters, Austen in EMMA makes a marked change in the basic makeup of her cast. In PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, for example, she shows only the landed gentry. But here, Austen presents a definite variation in character. It is this wider cast of type that allows Austen to play the magician and make the reader think that Austen's world is bigger than it is. And at the center of this static world is Emma herself, who, in the canon of Austen, is the heroine only in the broadest sense of the word.
For the first time in any of her novels, Austen gives the reader a heroine who has numerous grievous faults. Emma is a young headstrong woman who comes across as a huge snob. Emma describes Mrs. Elton, who is more purposeful in her mischief, as "self-important, presuming, familiar, ignorant, and ill-bred." Emma might as well have been talking about herself. Readers who note Emma's genteel manner allow that surface patina of gentility to suggest that there is a basic difference between her and Mrs. Elton. This difference is more a matter of degree than in kind. In her harsh treatment of Harriet Smith and disparagement of Jane Fairfax, Emma is more than thoughtless; she is downright sadistic. The best that can be said for her is that in the benevolent atmosphere of Jane Austen, nastiness is not permitted to materially affect the outcome. Those who are nasty are rendered impotent in their nastiness, like Mrs. Elton, or are allowed to improve by degrees through a slow process of self-realization, like Emma. And it is this growing understanding of Emma's own faults that is at heart the theme of the book. The plot, which is really an incredibly contorted series of misunderstandings based mostly on Emma's constant misapprehensions of who loves whom, is the hook by which the theme comes into play. Regardless of who tries mightily to set things aright, the only one who can teach Emma to look inwardly for wisdom is Emma herself. The comedy that results from all these miscalculations sets up the satire which arises from the contrast between the way Emma misreads relationships and the way that the readers do not. Despite the fact that some readers complain that the smallness of setting renders the smallness of the morality as insignificant is to misunderstand why each new generation of reader finds Emma to be an uplifting vision of the regeneration of a woman that is probably not unlike many of her readers.
...However not nearly as bad as _Sense and Sensibility_. The characters seem a little less sterotypical here, and while _S and S_ was harshly critical of the snobbery of the upper class the main heroine in _Emma_ is herself one of these people, which makes it interesting. She is a busy- body who meddles in the affairs of others and thinks she alone can judge the motives of everyone else with exactness. Although she is very proud, she is not overbearing or mean (except to those she snubs) and we like her.
The plot doesn't hold much to it, though. It is filled with what has become typical plot devices of the romance novel-- the comedic misunderstandings between people as they miss each others meanings completely, as well as the "knowing/not-knowing" and the "does she love me/love me not" devices which are utterly over-used and stale to most contemporary readers. Perhaps these were fresh in Austen's day. That to one side, even the plot itself was too simplistic and much too easy to see through. These shortcomings combine to leave the reader with a sense of tedium. It does not "work" today, classic or not....more info
- Charming characters make Emma a classic!
When I first tried to read this book (almost ten years ago, when I was around 13), I found it incredibly dull because there is little action. I finally decided to reread Emma and realized that the appeal of this book (in addition to Jane Austen's writing style) is in its characters. Emma's setting is a small town full of an assortment of delightful personalities.
At the center of the story is Emma Woodhouse, an intelligent and wealthy young woman, who believes that she knows what is best for everyone around her. Emma takes the orphaned Harriet Smith, a pretty but simple-minded girl, under her wing. The consequences are disatrous for all. I found it pleasant to watch Emma grow throughout the book and learn about the way the world works.
The other characters include the loquacious Miss Bates (and her silent, elderly mother), the constantly distraught Mr. Woodhouse, and the handsome and affluent Mr. Knightley. There are also Jane Fairfax (who the movie portrays a little bit more negatively than the book) and Frank Churchill who show up later on in the book to make life a little more interesting.
These people and many others add to the richness of Austen's narrative. The best part about them is that all are real people who have both good and bad points, and make mistakes. I found that a lot of them are similar to people that I know today in the 21st century.
The second time I read through this book, I found myself aching for more. I felt delighted every time I find one of Jane Austen's little witticisms (and there are a lot!). These little gems are enough to make her my all time favorite author....more info
- Poco argumento
Emma narra la historia de una joven impulsiva y consentida cuyo principal objetivo es encontrar el marido perfecto y no solo para ella sino tambien para su amiga Harriet, una chica de origenes humildes. A tal fin, Emma Woodhouse se empe?a en manipular a todos los que la rodean, pero, naturalmente no para de equivocarse y provocar enredos y situaciones embarazosas. Solo Mr. Knightley, diecisiete a?os mayor que ella y hombre de temple y aplomo aprobados, se atreve a reprocharle su comportamiento de ni?a mimada e insensata...
Una novela un poco aburrida, frivola y sin demasiado argumento...more info
- Almost as good as P&P!
I really enjoyed this a lot. It's not quite as good as Pride and Prejudice, but it is better than Sense and Sensibility. It still has a lot of things to say that are still very much pertinent to modern times. Austen's longest work is an entertaining romp that shows what happens when one young girl gets too involved in the affections of (and between) others. Although overlong, it's still a really, really entertaining read....more info
- Emma - a romantic classic
I read Emma maybe a year ago, and I absolutely loved it! It's my favorite novel from Jane Austen followed by Pride & Prejudice. In fact I only like those two novels out of the six she wrote, but anyway, Emma was a really good read. The best part about this novel is that it isn't about a girl who is looking for love, it's about a girl who unexpectedly finds love where it has been all the time. Talk about right under your nose. Emma is friendly, kind, naive, smart, loyal, whitty, clever, innocent, and definatley worth reading. I truly love this book because I love romance in it's purest form, true love, when you know that these two characters will spend the rest of their lives together and will love each other faithfully! That's why I love this book, and Pride & Prejudice is the same way, maybe I'll write a review for that too, hope this helps you out, and buy the book!...more info
- My Favorite Austen
Yes, I do like it better than Pride and Prejudice (Bantam Classics).
Jane Austen's tale of rich, accomplished Emma Woodhouse. Too used to her own way, and too full of her own self, she forays into matchmaking. What will Mr. Knightley say?...more info
- Too clever by half
So what does a "handsome, clever, and rich" girl like Emma Woodhouse do when she has no professional aspirations and no intention ever to marry? In addition to painting, playing the piano, and condescendingly visiting the poor, she is what might be called a social organizer, which primarily means finding husbands for single women and arranging all the social details involved in doing so. Her decision not to marry stems from her opinion, conceited but sincere, that there's not a man out there who could entertain her as a lifemate; and besides, with her mother pushing up daisies and her older sister Isabella living away in her own marriage, she already has a husband: her father.
Jane Austen's novel weaves a group of several characters, balanced almost equally between men and women, into a web of romance in which the reader is led through various scenes and situations in a guessing game of who will end up with whom. Emma makes herself the prime mover of this group, but she is not as infallible a love broker as she would like to think. After she has successfully matched her childhood governess Miss Taylor with an affluent man named Weston, she turns her attention to the naive and impressionable Harriet Smith, for whom she has identified the young vicar Mr. Elton as a suitable beau. But then Elton declares his love for Emma, who of course is not interested in him, and...oh, what a mess.
The plot thickens when a pretty girl named Jane Fairfax arrives in town to inspire Emma's curiosity and jealousy because she, unlike Harriet, is charming enough not to need Emma's assistance and tutelage. The main heartthrob among the women is Frank Churchill, actually Weston's son from a previous marriage, an impulsive and not totally honest young man whose amorous unpredictabilities shake the foundations of Emma's schemes. The man designed to be a traditional hero is George Knightley, sixteen years Emma's senior, who acts as Emma's moral anchor and monitors her matchmaking endeavors, gently cutting her down to size when her head gets a little too big, such as when she tells him that Robert Martin, a farmer, isn't of the proper class to be Harriet's husband.
Austen maintains the right narrative pace, giving her major characters just enough room to develop themselves plausibly through interactions with some colorful minor characters. Emma's father, the slow-on-the-uptake Mr. Woodhouse, a man of extreme sensitivity to gastronomical disorders and temperature fluctuations, is an innocuous but amiable fellow who appreciates his daughter's loyal devotion but is judiciously content to remain in the background of her life and activities. The Highbury seniors are represented by the elderly Mrs. Bates and her slightly less elderly daughter Miss Bates, who has a marvelous talent for prattling about trifles in which nobody else is interested. She can be outdone only by Miss Suckling, the annoying chatterbox Elton decides to marry after being jilted by Emma.
Emma is not a bad or cruel person--she genuinely feels guilty about Harriet's continual romantic misfortunes and her own momentary sarcastic behavior towards Miss Bates. However, it cannot be denied that she's a snob whose goal is a Perfect Society with all the right ladies married to the right men, and to hell with all those other little people (the farmers, the servants, the unattractive, etc.) who don't fit into her master plan. But Austen herself admitted this much, showing that Emma is far from perfect herself and allowing her to learn a lesson in humility by the end of the novel, for which she is duly rewarded--the denouement is a little too neat, but of a style so familiar to us by now that "Emma" seems nearly two centuries ahead of its time.
- What's Love Got To Do With It?
One could hardly have lived in a more constricted and insular world than did Jane Austen and yet she managed to bring her world to life with wit, vividness and insight that are rarely found in the works of today's modern authors.
Although PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is generally considered Austen's masterpiece as well as her "sunniest" novel, I believe I like EMMA just a little more because it is a little more complex. The overly indulged daughter of a self-indulgent man, Emma, though well-intentioned and always displaying impeccable manners, certainly isn't without fault. She is, to put it mildly, accustomed to "having her own way" and she's possessed of a "disposition to think a little too well of herself." A "little too well of herself," indeed. Residing at the pinnacle of society, Emma believes if the world doesn't revolve around her, rather than the sun, then it should.
The plot of EMMA centers around romance and courtship and showcases the distinctions of gender and class as well as the importance of manners and decorum that were so prevalent in Austen's England. Although encompassing a rather convoluted plot, EMMA is really the story of Emma, herself, and how she evolves from a self-indulgent and shallow girl, albeit a very intelligent and clever one, into a considerate and giving woman, one who is able to make the compromises love and marriage require.
As the novel opens, Emma, who lives with her widowed father on a large estate called Hartfield, near the village of Highbury, has just lost her longtime governess and companion, Anne Taylor, to marriage with a wealthy denizen of Highbury society, Mr. Weston.
The vain and self-centered Emma feels adrift without someone to amuse her, so, to fill the void left by Miss Taylor, Emma "adopts" seventeen-year-old Harriet Smith as her "new" best friend.
At first glance, Harriet would seem to be a rather odd choice as a friend for Emma, for the two girls could hardly be more different. Harriet is an orphan whose parental origins are unknown, and she lives at the boarding school where she is an assistant to its headmistress, Mrs. Goddard. Worse yet, Harriet is both immature and insecure, and as such, she indulges all of Emma's worst qualities. An inveterate meddler, Emma, immediately upon taking Harriet under her wing, decides to play matchmaker and prevails upon her to refuse a very good and sincere proposal of marriage from Robert Martin, a local farmer. Harriet, Emma tells her, should set her sights a bit higher. In fact, Emma already has the "perfect" husband-to-be chosen for Harriet...Philip Elton, the local vicar. The only problem is...Philip Elton has set his sights set on Emma.
Enter Mr. George Knightly, a thirty-seven-year-old bachelor and master of Donwell Abbey. Mr. Knightly's older brother, John, is married to Emma's older sister, Isabella, and while John can be quite severe and impatient, George is a paragon of sincerity and good breeding. Throughout the book, George Knightly will function as the one voice of calm, level-headed reason, and, additionally, he'll be the only person not afraid to point out Emma's faults to her and criticize her when he thinks necessary.
Of all the many characters in EMMA, George Knightly is the most consistent, the one who doesn't undergo much change. In this respect, EMMA differs greatly from typical romance novels, even romances of Austen's day. Books with strong romantic subplots, both then and now, usually require the male character, rather than the female, to change before he's capable of mature love.
Mr. Knightly first shows us his criticism of Emma when he opposes her friendship with Harriet Smith, for he has the insight to see that the friendship not only does neither girl any good, but brings about harm, instead. Furthermore, Mr. Knightly's insights are shown to be correct when Philip Elton breaks Harriet Smith's heart and surprises Emma and marries the vulgar-but-wealthy Augusta Hawkins.
As Mr. Knightly points out, a more fitting friend for Emma would be Jane Fairfax, an orphan of much higher social status than Harriet, but below Emma. Emma, though, is annoyed by Jane Fairfax, but not because of any negative qualities inherent in Jane, herself. Quite the opposite; Jane Fairfax is, like Emma, herself, charming, intelligent and beautiful...qualities that certainly don't please the vain and self-centered Emma. While Harriet's company allows Emma to shine, Emma would most likely have to share the limelight with Jane and sharing the limelight is not something Emma is accustomed to do, nor does she want to become accustomed to doing it.
Although EMMA may seem to be a fairly straightforward story of love, courtship, and marriage, it would be doing the book, and Austen, a grave injustice if one failed to delve more deeply into the social dynamics that govern its world.
In EMMA, one's status in society is of paramount importance. With the exception of royalty, the landed gentry, as exemplified by the Woodhouse and Knightly families, stand at the top of the social ladder. Those engaged in trade, no matter how wealthy, can never hope to achieve the status of the landowners, a fact that places Mr. Weston (the husband of Anne Taylor) just below them. Each person must know his or her own place in society and keep to it, adhering to its dictates and conventions. When one attempts to "break societal rank" as did poor Harriet Smith, nothing but heartbreak can follow.
Very interestingly, the characters show an almost total disregard for love and affection, even where marriage is concerned. Especially where marriage is concerned. Once again, both class and social status are the prime motivators. This is shown most clearly when Emma, herself, decides that a character named Frank Churchill would make an ideal husband for her even though she has never even met him. She knows Frank Churchill's status in society, she knows his reputation, she knows his family. Whether or not Emma "loves" Frank Churchill is beside the point and not really taken into consideration. This is made all the more curious, at least to modern day readers, by the fact that Emma, as a wealthy heiress and one very highly placed in society, could really marry anyone she chooses and get away with it, unlike poor Harriet Smith or even the impoverished Jane Fairfax who must choose their spouses wisely and "make a good match." Even when a woman does acquire a fianc¨¦, in Emma's world, propriety and decorum dictate that she not call him by his first name until after they are man and wife.
The most complex characters in the book are, undoubtedly, Emma Woodhouse, herself, and Frank Churchill. Frank Churchill is something of an enigma, as is Jane Fairfax, for much of the novel, but Austen eventually makes all motivations clear.
EMMA is primarily Emma Woodhouse's book, but it is not hers entirely. Austen skillfully weaves the stories of George Knightly, Harriet Smith, Robert Martin, Jane Fairfax, Frank Churchill, Philip Elton, Augusta Hawkins and several others around Emma's. At times, especially when character motivations are clouded, the book almost has the air of a mystery novel about it, though, as in all of Austen's books, social comedy and irony take center stage.
During the time Jane Austen was writing, the Romantic movement was approaching its zenith. Wordsworth and Beethoven were contemporaries of Austen. Austen, however, never really indulged in the intense emotionalism of Romanticism, preferring, instead, to concentrate on the foibles of domesticity. Order was far more important to Austen than was emotion, and in EMMA, order is far more important to both Emma and her father, and to George Knightly, than is change. The realization of making a "good" marriage is far more important than the experience of love.
EMMA richly deserves its place among the classics of English literature. Not only does the book encompass a timeless story, it is set against the backdrop of the English social strata. Most importantly, however, is the novel's centerpiece...Emma, herself, a woman who seems to have all the answers, except those that concern her own heart.
Recommended: To all lovers of great literature.
- The first Austen I ever read...
...and still my favorite (yes, even over Pride and Prejudice). It a good one to start with if you've never read one of Austen's novels before....more info
- Great classic
A wonderful read! This is a story about a girl named Emma. She is pretty, wealthy, and a little bit haughty. And why not, since she is of a social standing where she feels she's entitled to look down on those inferior to her position. Even though she had such superior airs, I still couldn't help but liking Emma.
She tries to play matchmaker to a new friend, and it's a disaster. Despite her actions, I couldn't dislike the character of Emma. She does feel guilty and remorse when she realizes her actions causes turmoil and pain for others. She feels horrible when she realizes her misconceptions of others. She is contrite and sorry for the trouble she causes to those around her.
I think one of the things I liked best about this book was the characters. There were so many places where I laughed aloud at Emma's father for his eccentricity and odd behaviors, or reading Emma's thoughts on certain people. It was really a delight to read!...more info
- Delightful! Read it and read it again!
I haven't read a Jane Austen novel in years. The last time I read one of her novels I was very young and it was not by choice. If you want to rediscover Jane Austen, start with Emma. This novel is about a very snobby, spoiled, and at times malicious young lady by the name of Emma Woodhouse. Emma lives in the village of Highbury with her hypchondriac father. After Emma's Governess, who throughout the book is known as Mrs Weston marries, Emma is left with a lot of time on her hands. I'm afraid she does not use this time wisely.
Emma finds a new friend and protege in Harriet Smith, a young lady with an unknown past who Emma takes under her wing. Emma brings it upon herself to give young Harriet somewhat of a social makeover. She induces her to aspire to greatness and put on airs proper to a lady of Emma's class, although she's not even sure what class Harriet belongs to. When Harriet is offered marriage by a farmer by the name of Mr Martin, Emma is horrified! She convinces Harrriet that such a man is hardly worthy of her and intices her to find romance with the handsome but vain vicor, Mr Elton. Emma's disasterous matchmaking decison is the focus of the book.
I found this novel incredibly amusing! Emma's unbashed snobbery, Harriet's ignorance, Mr Woodhouse's constant worry of illness befalling every character in the book. This book is literally laugh out loud funny at times. The novel features many other equally amusing characters. Mr Knightley, Emma's sister's brother-in-law, who is the one person in the novel to always tell Emma how it really is. The chatty and annoying Mrs Bates, the insufferable Augusta Elton who is almost as full of herself as Emma.
When Jane Austen wrote this book she claimed no one but herself would like Emma Woodhouse. Emma is conceited and selfish, but the beauty of this book is that Emma is forced to come to terms with what her behavior has caused her and those she loves. The Emma you meet at the beginning of the novel is not the same Emma that you say goodbye to at the end.
If you want a simple description of what this novel is about I will tell you that it is about a young lady's road to maturity and growth. Jane Austen isn't for everyone, but if you are curious or want to give her novels another try, start with Emma. It's guaranteed to renew your interest in one of the greatest writers in English literature. Five stars!!...more info
For some reason, I always think of Emma as my least favorite Austen, but I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading it. Emma is a very imperfect heroine, but Jane Austen was wrong in supposing that no one but herself would like her. I find Emma to be refreshing as a heroine, and she stands is stark contrast to Fanny Price in Mansfield Park (my least favorite Austen heroine). There is none of Fanny's timidness or inability to stand up for herself. Emma is independent and strong, and much more modern than other female characters in classic literature. Her mistakes in pride and arrogance are such as we all make on a daily basis. She presumes to understand people's emotions and thoughts and thinks she has a right to order things as she would have them be...very type "A", in my opinion. But, as her intentions in every case are good, as she only wants those she loves to be happy and prosperous, one cannot really blame her.
The other characters in this book are also very satisfying, particularly Jane Fairfax and Mr. Knightley. Jane is the poor orphan on whom everyone in Highbury, the village in which Emma lives, dotes upon. Emma, of course, can't stand her at first, but only because of the knowledge that Jane is superior to her in many ways. How many of us have declared that we don't like someone simply because they're better at something than we are? Mr. Knightley, Emma's neighbor and long-time family friend, is her conscience, calling attention to those errors in judgment that Emma constantly seems to make. He often lectures her, but only in an attempt to set her on a better course. When faced with the prospect of losing him, Emma must confront her own feelings and question her own situation in life.
It's altogether an enjoyable read, with plenty of twists and blunders, and should appeal to any fan of Jane Austen...or just anyone who wants to read the real version of the movie "Clueless"....more info
- Humor in Classical Literature
All through high school I stayed as far from the British female authors (of classical literature) as I could...and now I have to wonder why. I figured them to be drab, sappy, overly sentimental and trite. How wrong I was! Upon urging of friends, I picked up "Pride and Prejudice" and enjoyed it immensely (though I disagree with another poster that it was faster paced than Emma). I immediately purchased "Emma" and was delighted. The character, as is mentioned, is flawed...but charming BECAUSE of these flaws. Emma is a wonderful character and the book is a joy to read. I will continue my journey through the books of Jane Austen--and I can't wait to continue!...more info
- Jane Austen's Masterpiece
Of all of Jane Austen's books, this one certainly gets my vote for the best. I loved it because I could relate to the character of Emma. No, she isnt perfect, but her flaws are part of what makes her so real. While the Bennett women were certainly by no means perfect either (the crazy mother immediately took away any hopes of that), they always seemed rather flat to me. Emma is witty and charming, but with a degree of authenticity that makes her seem less like a character in a novel, and more like your best friend. highly recommend. ...more info
- My thoughts refer to the unabridged audiobook
Almost universally, I find books to be far superior to their movie version, and I think most avid readers would be inclined to agree. However, in this case, without having seen the film first, I never would have considered reading this book because I often steer away from classics, finding them difficult to understand and hard to follow. I was quite enamoured with the highly romantic film Emma starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam that I felt inspired to listen to this audiobook. The reader did an outstanding job of making me feel as though the story was happening around me and I was a part of this community, and actively participating in their festivities.
Of course, my analytical mind couldn't help comparing and contrasting the book with the film. There are so many different characters, many of whom had very minor roles, or were spoken of but never appeared in any actual scene. Having seen the film first, it was far easier to "know" who everyone was, and how they related to each other. The book had many more scenes that filled in more details and had deeper character development, which drew me into the story more intensely than before. There were aspects of the film that seemed more romantic (the interactions between Emma and Mr Knightly, for example), and I preferred the way the film ended as compared to the book. But in both versions, Mr. Knightly was extremely swoon-worthy!!!
I feel very inspired to read the book in print, now that I am sure to understand and appreciate it to its fullest. And I have just ordered the DVD film version starring Kate Beckensale, which is reputed to be the most romantic of all!! I have officially been "turned-on" to Jane Austen, and plan to read her other books, comparing and contrasting them to their respective film versions as I have so enjoyed doing with Emma.
- Review on Emma
Highbury, England early 1800's a quiet and pleasant place to live. Where Emma Woodhouse takes residents with her father. Emma is clever and yes, rich. She enjoys many of the same things young adults do today do including match making and visiting friends in 1800's fashion.
Emma is the main character as you probably can tell by the title of Emma. She has a bad habit of match making just ask "poor" Harriet. Emma attempts to stop threw out the book but always ends up going back. She vowed never to marry early in life. Besides her father Mr. Woodhouse needs her and she enjoys calling on her single friends. If she had a husband to complicate things she could not go see those friends. Unless the man she married enjoyed calling on those same friends.
Emma seems like she could walk off the page and appear in the 21-century, even thew she lived in the 1800's. Her habits are the same as many young women today of not marrying and the dreaded habit of match making.
Emma is full of personality even thew she can be a little mean to long time friends and not relies it without someone telling her. But Emma appears real and grounded.
I would recommend Emma to young women who are fast readers and who know someone or they themselves enjoys match making. Because Emma learns control the desire to mess with people's feelings.
Get Emma today even if you don't read it you can tell your friends you own on of the classics by Jane Austen.
- A Good Read
Jane Austen's "Emma" is a good read. I consider Austen a mistress of dialogue and of creating very colourful, vivid and almost touchable characters. These two points make "Emma" a very enjoyable novel.
The only thing I found weak - as it is in other Austen's books - is the sudden turns in the story, events that have an incredibly atrificial (or deus ex machina) taste to them.It almost feels like Austen has tried to twist the entangled situations in such a way as to ensure a undisputable happy ending.
Despite of the shaky storyline, the main character - Emma Woodhouse - comes through as credible and realistic. She has her faults, she makes mistakes, and inspite her wit and intelligence, she is young and inexperienced and this makes her very much like any other young woman in the 21st centrury - a young woman who has to go through some blunders in order to learn about life and herself.
It is Emma's character that makes the whole book worthy of purchasing and adding to one's library. I would suggest "Emma" above any other Jane Austen's classics for it is obviously the most mature book of them all....more info