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 protegé 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.
Welcome back to the classic novel recommendation of the month. This time around I picked Emma by Jane Austen. I confess this one isn’t among my absolute favorite Jane Austen’s novels, which feature Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility at the very top, but it’s worth the read nonetheless.
Emma is a beautiful and clever girl who believes herself to be excellent at making love matches, but who’s convinced she’ll never marry. This novel doesn’t have much of a plot but is mostly about Emma interfering in other people’s lives, trying to find the right partner for them. Now what fascinated me the most about this book is the character of Emma herself. Emma is a very different character from the ones we’re used to seeing in Jane Austen’s novels–she’s no Elizabeth Bennett or Anne Eliot, to name a few. I have to say she didn’t gain my sympathy right away, actually she was a bit of an irritating character at the beginning. But what fascinated me the most is that she’s not pictured as the perfect heroine, quite the opposite. Emma is clever, but she’s deeply flawed, she’s a girl who most of the times makes inaccurate assumptions of those around her. She’s a character who means well, though, but her stubbornness leads her to make mistakes. You’ll tell me, then why you’re recommending this specific novel by Austen? Because I believe Emma is the most human character Austen created, she’s not perfect, she’s not the ideal heroine, but she’s human. She’s a girl who learns from her mistakes and comes to see that we’re not always right in everything, that we don’t have to rely only on our opinion but also listen to others. She’s a multidimensional character in a lot of ways. I believe she reflects our most inner human nature and every one of us can find some of their flaws in her.
I love Mr. Knightley’s character in the novel. He embodies good sense, he’s honest and kind-hearted he falls in love with Emma, despite her imperfections. He becomes a sort of guide to her helping her understand her failings.
Big part of the novel focuses on the relationships between Emma and those who spends time with. Misunderstandings often ensue but in the end everything falls back into place with a surprise factor or two. Some of the developments are surprising not only to Emma but also to the reader, cause often we get led astray by Emma’s judgment. I didn’t expect some of the revelations and I really enjoyed the way Jane Austen presented them.
Another great Jane Austen’s novel worth reading
And now some of my favorite quotes:
“Perhaps it is our imperfections that make us so perfect for one another!”
“I cannot make speeches, Emma…If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am. You hear nothing but truth from me. I have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have borne it. Bear with the truths I would tell you now, dearest Emma, as well as you have borne with them. The manner, perhaps, may have as little to recommend them. God knows, I have been a very indifferent lover. But you understand me. Yes, you see, you understand my feelings and will return them if you can. At present, I ask only to hear, once to hear your voice.”
“But a note had been prepared and left for her, written in the very style to touch –a small mixture of reproach with a great deal of kindness”
“Wickedness is always wickedness, but folly is not always folly.”