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Excerpted from Emma by Jane Austen Copyright © 2007 by Jane Austen. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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|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|
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?
Posted October 6, 2011
Emma Woodhouse is a beautiful, wealthy, and intelligent young woman who thinks she knows more than anyone else. When she was a child her mother passed away and left behind the Isabella, Emma, and their elderly father Mr. Woodhouse. Later, when her governess-turned-companion Anne Taylor marries a local gentleman Mr. Weston, Emma and her father are left to fend for themselves. A constant part of their life is Mr. Knightly, her dear brother-in-law, who always is there to correct her if she is behaving inappropriately, much to her dismay. There were other young people in the town who were not as fortunate to stay at home with their parents when disaster stroke. One of these children is Jane Fairfax, an orphan who was sent off by her aunt and grandma to be a companion in a different family. Another child is Frank Churchill, whose mother died at an early age and whose father sent him to live with his aunt and uncle forever. These children come back to Highbury after all these years and play a large part in the story.
When Emma meets Harriet Smith who lives at the boarding school for girls, she decides to take her under her wing and transform her into a mannered lady by telling her how to act, how to dress, how to think, and who to associate with. Everyone is happy and satisfied with Emma's new companion except Mr. Knightly, who thinks that this relationship will do more harm than good to both of the girls. Emma also plans to find Harriet the perfect suitor from among the eligible gentlemen in Highbury, her hometown. However, she is also feels the need to meddle in other people's love life like Mr. Knightly's, Mr. Elton's, Jane Fairfax's, Anne Taylor, and Frank Churchill's.
Unfortunately, not everyone is as ready to fall in love with the person that Emma chooses for them. Then, the table turns dramatically when Emma realizes that her own happiness in life is threatened by her effects of matchmaking. Soon things start going out of hand and Emma is left in a romantic mess that only she could create. This book keeps you asking "Does she really know as much as she thinks she does?" This is a great book that has subtle humor and beautiful language from the lost time of the Regency era. This humorous classic by Jane Austen will continue to enthrall and inspire generations after generations.
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