Emma by Jane Austen

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Title: Emma by Jane Austen


When Emma’s governess marries, Emma believes herself to have been highly instrumental in making the match.  She subsequently tries her hand at more matchmaking, which ends up going terribly wrong.  Her insight is not nearly as good as she thinks it to be, so she makes some terrible mistakes.  More than once, she steers her friend Harriet to make bad romantic choices.  Not only is Emma clueless when it comes to love, but she is rather neglectful in considering how her actions and words affect others.  When she slights an older lady of reduced means, she comes face to face with her own deficiencies of character.  At this point Emma embarks on a real journey of personal reform and discovers that her own happiness is tied up in one of her dearest friend.

My thoughts:

Emma is a romantic comedy of errors which revolves around the main character, Emma Woodhouse.  Though she is absolutely terrible as a matchmaker, Emma spends most of the book convinced that she has the golden touch when it comes to arranging other peoples marriages.  This flighty and conceited young lady manages to make a complete mess of things and alienates nearly everyone in her social circle.  Once Emma has put forth some real effort in mending her ways, Mr. Knightley professes his love for her toward the end of the book.  Her own romantic story doesn’t take up a lot of the narrative.

While Emma isn’t my favorite Jane Austen novel, I still enjoy it.  I suppose the reason that I don’t like it quite as much as the others is that this is probably her heroine who makes the most mistakes.  The many social blunders that Emma commits can make for some uncomfortable reading at times.  It’s not that there is anything really awful, it’s just awkward.  It is nice to see her character mature and learn a few life lessons.  The book is both a love story and a coming of age story.

I recommend Emma for advanced teens and adults.  The language and style are challenging.

Possible Objections:

  • Towards the end, Mr. Knightley tells Emma that he’s been in love with her since she was about thirteen.  At the time the novel was written that may not have been a big deal, but today we call that pedophilia.  That creeped me out a little.

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Until next time…





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