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. Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protegee Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected. With its imperfect but charming heroine and its witty and subtle exploration of relationships, Emma is often seen as Jane Austen's most flawless work.
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About the Author
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 homeand happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessingsof existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the worldwith 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 motherhad died too long ago for her to have more than an indistinctremembrance of her caresses; and her place had been suppliedby an excellent woman as governess, who had fallen little shortof 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 intimacyof sisters. Even before Miss Taylor had ceased to hold the nominaloffice of governess, the mildness of her temper had hardly allowedher to impose any restraint; and the shadow of authority beingnow long passed away, they had been living together as friend andfriend very mutually attached, and Emma doing just what she liked;highly esteeming Miss Taylor's judgment, but directed chiefly byher own.
The real evils, indeed, of Emma's situation were the power of havingrather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a littletoo well of herself; these were the disadvantages which threatenedalloy to her many enjoyments. The danger, however, was at presentso unperceived, that they did not by any means rank as misfortuneswith her.
Sorrow came—a gentle sorrow—but not at all in the shape of anydisagreeable consciousness.—Miss Taylor married. It was MissTaylor's loss which first brought grief. It was on the wedding-dayof this beloved friend that Emma first sat in mournful thoughtof any continuance. The wedding over, and the bride-people gone,her father and herself were left to dine together, with no prospectof a third to cheer a long evening. Her father composed himselfto sleep after dinner, as usual, and she had then only to sitand think of what she had lost.
The event had every promise of happiness for her friend. Mr. Westonwas a man of unexceptionable character, easy fortune, suitable age,and pleasant manners; and there was some satisfaction in consideringwith what self-denying, generous friendship she had always wishedand 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 sixteenyears—how she had taught and how she had played with her from fiveyears old—how she had devoted all her powers to attach and amuseher in health—and how nursed her through the various illnessesof childhood. A large debt of gratitude was owing here; but theintercourse of the last seven years, the equal footing and perfectunreserve which had soon followed Isabella's marriage, on theirbeing left to each other, was yet a dearer, tenderer recollection.She 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 hers—one to whom she could speakevery thought as it arose, and who had such an affection for heras could never find fault.
How was she to bear the change?—It was true that her friend wasgoing only half a mile from them; but Emma was aware that great mustbe 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 sufferingfrom intellectual solitude. She dearly loved her father, but hewas 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 hadnot married early) was much increased by his constitution and habits;for having been a valetudinarian all his life, without activityof mind or body, he was a much older man in ways than in years;and though everywhere beloved for the friendliness of his heartand his amiable temper, his talents could not have recommended himat any time.
Her sister, though comparatively but little removed by matrimony,being settled in London, only sixteen miles off, was much beyondher daily reach; and many a long October and November evening mustbe struggled through at Hartfield, before Christmas brought the nextvisit 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 Woodhouseswere first in consequence there. All looked up to them. She hadmany acquaintance in the place, for her father was universally civil,but not one among them who could be accepted in lieu of MissTaylor for even half a day. It was a melancholy change; and Emmacould 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 reconciledto his own daughter's marrying, nor could ever speak of her butwith compassion, though it had been entirely a match of affection,when he was now obliged to part with Miss Taylor too; and fromhis habits of gentle selfishness, and of being never able tosuppose that other people could feel differently from himself,he was very much disposed to think Miss Taylor had done as sada thing for herself as for them, and would have been a great dealhappier if she had spent all the rest of her life at Hartfield.Emma smiled and chatted as cheerfully as she could, to keep himfrom such thoughts; but when tea came, it was impossible for himnot to say exactly as he had said at dinner,
"Poor Miss Taylor!—I wish she were here again. What a pity itis that Mr. Weston ever thought of her!"
"I cannot agree with you, papa; you know I cannot. Mr. Weston is sucha good-humoured, pleasant, excellent man, that he thoroughly deservesa good wife;—and you would not have had Miss Taylor live with usfor 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 seeus!—We shall be always meeting! We must begin; we must go and paywedding 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 forsuch a little way;—and where are the poor horses to be while weare paying our visit?"
"They are to be put into Mr. Weston's stable, papa. You know wehave settled all that already. We talked it all over with Mr. Westonlast night. And as for James, you may be very sure he will always likegoing to Randalls, because of his daughter's being housemaid there.I only doubt whether he will ever take us anywhere else. That wasyour doing, papa. You got Hannah that good place. Nobody thoughtof 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 wouldnot 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 shealways 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 greatcomfort to poor Miss Taylor to have somebody about her that she isused 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 weall are."
Emma spared no exertions to maintain this happier flow of ideas,and hoped, by the help of backgammon, to get her father tolerablythrough the evening, and be attacked by no regrets but her own.The backgammon-table was placed; but a visitor immediately afterwardswalked in and made it unnecessary.
Mr. Knightley, a sensible man about seven or eight-and-thirty, was notonly a very old and intimate friend of the family, but particularlyconnected with it, as the elder brother of Isabella's husband.He lived about a mile from Highbury, was a frequent visitor,and always welcome, and at this time more welcome than usual,as coming directly from their mutual connexions in London. He hadreturned to a late dinner, after some days' absence, and now walkedup to Hartfield to say that all were well in Brunswick Square.It was a happy circumstance, and animated Mr. Woodhouse for some time.Mr. Knightley had a cheerful manner, which always did him good;and his many inquiries after "poor Isabella" and her children wereanswered most satisfactorily. When this was over, Mr. Woodhousegratefully observed, "It is very kind of you, Mr. Knightley, to comeout at this late hour to call upon us. I am afraid you must havehad a shocking walk."
"Not at all, sir. It is a beautiful moonlight night; and so mildthat I must draw back from your great fire."
"But you must have found it very damp and dirty. I wish you maynot catch cold."
"Dirty, sir! Look at my shoes. Not a speck on them."
"Well! that is quite surprising, for we have had a vast dealof rain here. It rained dreadfully hard for half an hourwhile we were at breakfast. I wanted them to put off the wedding."
"By the bye—I have not wished you joy. Being pretty well awareof what sort of joy you must both be feeling, I have been in no hurrywith my congratulations; but I hope it all went off tolerably well.How did you all behave? Who cried most?"
"Ah! poor Miss Taylor! 'Tis a sad business."
"Poor Mr. and Miss Woodhouse, if you please; but I cannot possiblysay 'poor Miss Taylor.' I have a great regard for you and Emma;but when it comes to the question of dependence or independence!—Atany rate, it must be better to have only one to please than two."
"Especially when one of those two is such a fanciful, troublesome creature!"said Emma playfully. "That is what you have in your head,I know—and what you would certainly say if my father were not by."
"I believe it is very true, my dear, indeed," said Mr. Woodhouse,with a sigh. "I am afraid I am sometimes very fanciful and troublesome."
"My dearest papa! You do not think I could mean you, or supposeMr. Knightley to mean you. What a horrible idea! Oh no! I meantonly myself. Mr. Knightley loves to find fault with me, you know—in a joke—it is all a joke. We always say what we like to one another."
Mr. Knightley, in fact, was one of the few people who could seefaults in Emma Woodhouse, and the only one who ever told her of them:and though this was not particularly agreeable to Emma herself,she knew it would be so much less so to her father, that she wouldnot have him really suspect such a circumstance as her not beingthought perfect by every body.
"Emma knows I never flatter her," said Mr. Knightley, "but Imeant no reflection on any body. Miss Taylor has been usedto have two persons to please; she will now have but one.The chances are that she must be a gainer."
"Well," said Emma, willing to let it pass—"you want to hearabout the wedding; and I shall be happy to tell you, for we allbehaved charmingly. Every body was punctual, every body in theirbest looks: not a tear, and hardly a long face to be seen. Oh no;we all felt that we were going to be only half a mile apart,and were sure of meeting every day."
"Dear Emma bears every thing so well," said her father."But, Mr. Knightley, she is really very sorry to lose poor Miss Taylor,and I am sure she will miss her more than she thinks for."
Emma turned away her head, divided between tears and smiles."It is impossible that Emma should not miss such a companion,"said Mr. Knightley. "We should not like her so well as we do, sir,if we could suppose it; but she knows how much the marriage is toMiss Taylor's advantage; she knows how very acceptable it must be,at Miss Taylor's time of life, to be settled in a home of her own,and how important to her to be secure of a comfortable provision,and therefore cannot allow herself to feel so much pain as pleasure.Every friend of Miss Taylor must be glad to have her so happilymarried."
"And you have forgotten one matter of joy to me," said Emma,"and a very considerable one—that I made the match myself.I made the match, you know, four years ago; and to have it take place,and be proved in the right, when so many people said Mr. Weston wouldnever marry again, may comfort me for any thing."
Mr. Knightley shook his head at her. Her father fondly replied,"Ah! my dear, I wish you would not make matches and foretell things,for whatever you say always comes to pass. Pray do not make anymore matches."
"I promise you to make none for myself, papa; but I must, indeed,for other people. It is the greatest amusement in the world! Andafter such success, you know!—Every body said that Mr. Weston wouldnever marry again. Oh dear, no! Mr. Weston, who had been a widowerso long, and who seemed so perfectly comfortable without a wife,so constantly occupied either in his business in town or among hisfriends here, always acceptable wherever he went, always cheerful—Mr. Weston need not spend a single evening in the year alone if he didnot like it. Oh no! Mr. Weston certainly would never marry again.Some people even talked of a promise to his wife on her deathbed,and others of the son and the uncle not letting him. All mannerof solemn nonsense was talked on the subject, but I believed noneof it.
"Ever since the day—about four years ago—that Miss Taylor and Imet with him in Broadway Lane, when, because it began to drizzle,he darted away with so much gallantry, and borrowed two umbrellasfor us from Farmer Mitchell's, I made up my mind on the subject.I planned the match from that hour; and when such success has blessedme in this instance, dear papa, you cannot think that I shall leaveoff match-making."
"I do not understand what you mean by 'success,'" said Mr. Knightley."Success supposes endeavour. Your time has been properly anddelicately spent, if you have been endeavouring for the last fouryears to bring about this marriage. A worthy employment for a younglady's mind! But if, which I rather imagine, your making the match,as you call it, means only your planning it, your saying to yourselfone idle day, 'I think it would be a very good thing for Miss Taylorif Mr. Weston were to marry her,' and saying it again to yourselfevery now and then afterwards, why do you talk of success? Whereis your merit? What are you proud of? You made a lucky guess;and that is all that can be said."
"And have you never known the pleasure and triumph of a lucky guess?—I pity you.—I thought you cleverer—for, depend upon it a luckyguess is never merely luck. There is always some talent in it.And as to my poor word 'success,' which you quarrel with, I do notknow that I am so entirely without any claim to it. You have drawntwo pretty pictures; but I think there may be a third—a somethingbetween the do-nothing and the do-all. If I had not promoted Mr. Weston'svisits here, and given many little encouragements, and smoothedmany little matters, it might not have come to any thing after all.I think you must know Hartfield enough to comprehend that."
"A straightforward, open-hearted man like Weston, and a rational,unaffected woman like Miss Taylor, may be safely left to manage theirown concerns. You are more likely to have done harm to yourself,than good to them, by interference."
"Emma never thinks of herself, if she can do good to others,"rejoined Mr. Woodhouse, understanding but in part. "But, my dear,pray do not make any more matches; they are silly things, and break upone's family circle grievously."
"Only one more, papa; only for Mr. Elton. Poor Mr. Elton! Youlike Mr. Elton, papa,—I must look about for a wife for him.There is nobody in Highbury who deserves him—and he has beenhere a whole year, and has fitted up his house so comfortably,that it would be a shame to have him single any longer—and I thoughtwhen he was joining their hands to-day, he looked so very much as ifhe would like to have the same kind office done for him! I thinkvery well of Mr. Elton, and this is the only way I have of doinghim a service."
"Mr. Elton is a very pretty young man, to be sure, and a verygood young man, and I have a great regard for him. But if youwant to shew him any attention, my dear, ask him to comeand dine with us some day. That will be a much better thing.I dare say Mr. Knightley will be so kind as to meet him."
"With a great deal of pleasure, sir, at any time," said Mr. Knightley,laughing, "and I agree with you entirely, that it will be a muchbetter thing. Invite him to dinner, Emma, and help him to the bestof the fish and the chicken, but leave him to chuse his own wife.Depend upon it, a man of six or seven-and-twenty can take careof himself."
Table of Contents
EmmaThe Penguin Edition of the Novels of Jane Austen
Note on the Text
Emendations to the Text
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."
"No one creates silly English characters better than Austen, and Wanda McCaddon is up to the challenge." -AudioFile
Reading Group Guide
(Excerpted from The Jane Austen Book Club)
Emma was written between January 1814 and March 1815, published in 1815. The title character, Emma Woodhouse, is queen of her little community. She is lovely and wealthy. Se has no mother; her fussy, fragile father imposes no curbs on either her behavior or her self-satisfaction. Everyone else in the village is deferentially lower in social standing. Only Mr. Knightley, an old family friend, ever suggests she needs improvement.
Emma has a taste for matchmaking. When she meets pretty Harriet Smith, "the natural daughter of somebody," Emma takes her up as both a friend and a cause. Under Emma's direction, Harriet refuses a proposal from a local farmer, Robert Martin, so that Emma can engineer one from Mr. Elton, the vicar. Unluckily, Mr. Elton misunderstands the intrigues and believes Emma is interested in him for herself. He cannot be lowered to consider Harriet Smith.
Things are further shaken by the return to the village by Jane Fairfax, niece to the garrulous Miss Bates; and by a visit from Frank Churchill, stepson of Emma's ex-governess. He and Jane are secretly engaged, but as no one knows this, it has no impact on the matchmaking frenzy.
The couples are eventually sorted out, if not according to Emma's plan, at least to her satisfaction. Uninterested in marriage at the book's beginning, she happily engages herself to Mr. Knightly before its end.
ABOUT JANE AUSTEN
Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775 at Steventon near Basingstoke, the seventh child of the rector of the parish. She lived with her family at Steventon until they moved to Bath when her father retired in 1801. After his death in 1805, she moved around with her mother; in 1809, they settled in Chawton, near Alton, Hampshire. Here she remained, except for a few visits to London, until in May 1817 she moved to Winchester to be near her doctor. There she died on July 18, 1817. As a girl Jane Austen wrote stories, including burlesques of popular romances. Her works were only published after much revision, four novels being published in her lifetime. These are Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813),Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1816). Two other novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, were published posthumously in 1818 with a biographical notice by her brother, Henry Austen, the first formal announcement of her authorship. Persuasion was written in a race against failing health in 1815-16. She also left two earlier compositions, a short epistolary novel, Lady Susan, and an unfinished novel, The Watsons. At the time of her death, she was working on a new novel, Sanditon, a fragmentary draft of which survives.
- About Emma, Jane Austen famously said, "I'm going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like." Do you like Emma? Why or why not?
- Austen makes an unusual choice by selecting as her main character the most privileged woman in the book, the woman with "little to distress or vex her." The Jane Fairfax story line (which W.J. Harvey has called the "shadow novel-within-the-novel") has more traditional elements of tension and drama than Emma's story. Austen's own publisher traitorously said of Emma, "it wants incident and romance." Do you agree? Would you have rather read about Jane?
- Early in the book, Emma tells Harriet she doesn't plan to marry. But the other women all embody, in one way or another, the serious economic consequences of staying single. The book is filled with women at risk. Discuss with reference to: Miss Bates, Jane Fairfax, Mrs. Elton, Harriet Smith, Miss Taylor.
- Class issues run through every plot line in Emma. How would you describe Mr. Knightley's views on class and privilege? Harriet Smith is "the natural daughter of nobody knows whom." Which fact—her illegitimacy or her undetermined class standing—is more important in effecting her marital prospects? How do you feel about Emma's hopes to see Harriet married above her expectations? How does Emma's relationship to Harriet change over the course of the book?
- Two characters, Mrs. Elton and Frank Churchill, come into Highbury from the outside and threaten the little community with change. Mr. Knightley likes neither of them. How do you feel about them?
- One effect of the hidden (Jane Fairfax/Frank Churchill) story is to undermine the omniscience of the narrator. Some critics have suggested that the narrator controls the reader less in Emma than in most Austen books. Because of this, Reginald Ferrar has suggested the book improves on rereading. "Only when the story has been thoroughly assimilated can the infinite delights and subtleties of its workmanship begin to be appreciated." He suggests that rereading Pride and Prejudice allows you to repeat the pleasure you had at the first reading, while rereading Emmaalways provides new pleasures. (He also says that "until you know the story, you are apt to find the movement dense and slow and obscure, difficult to follow, and not very obviously worth the following.") Do you agree with any of this? Do you like a book in which the writer's intentions are not always clear and there is space for the reader to take charge or do you like to know what the writer wants you to be feeling and noticing? How do you feel about the idea of a book that has to be reread in order to be enjoyed? Is Emma such a book?
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.
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.
A wonderful book. You will thoroughly enjoy reading this book.
Did it in school and never loved it as much as I loved Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility.Still a funny, engaging well-written book that is on my re-read list.