Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Thoughts on "Emma"

Almost a month ago I read Jane Austen's classic, "Emma." I enjoyed it very much, as I enjoy all of Austen's novels. Now, this blog will not be all about Jane Austen, but I seem to be on a J.A. kick right now....

For those of you who aren't familiar with the novel, Emma Woodhouse is a beautiful young woman living with her father in their luxurious home, Hartfield. Mr. Woodhouse worries constantly, but Emma patiently waits and comforts him. He is worried Emma will marry and leave him, just like her "poor, dear sister," Isabella. Emma swears she will never marry. Instead, she takes pleasure in playing matchmaker and marrying off others. Emma thinks she knows everyone's heart, but, after a turn of events, she wonders if she even knows her own....

Let's start out with the characters, shall we? While I liked how kind Emma was to her father, and how she seems less perfect, and, I don't know, I find I can just relate more. Some things I could not relate to were her arrogance, vanity, and know-it-all attitude. I'm not saying I dislike Emma Woodhouse, but occasionally I would get annoyed with her throughout the book. The perfect cringe-worthy example would be the picnic at Box Hill. Poor, poor Miss Bates! I loved Miss Bates, with her silly, happy, almost naive ways- NAIVE, MOTHER!- I quite agree with Mr. Knightley (why is Blogger saying Knightley is spelled wrong, don't they know anything! ;) It was definitely "Badly done, Emma." 

Which brings me to Mr. George Knightley..... WONDERFUL! Absolutely, positively, undoubtedly  WONDERFUL! I love how kind he is to Emma and Mr. Woodhouse, how sincere, how wise! I fell in love with him from the very beginning. I wish he was a little younger, though. That was his only flaw- and it wasn't that big a flaw, either. He is one of my top favorite Jane Austen heroes. Shall I even mention chapter 49 (or, at least, I believe it was 49...) I was smiling a goofy, romantic little girl smile all the way through that one. I was so pleased that J.A. actually elaborated more on the proposal scene, and even ever so briefly mentioned the wedding. For, although Jane Austen is a romance writer, she doesn't seem to like going into detail on the actual declaration of love and marriage.

I love Mr. Woodhouse dearly. He has so many funny quotes and he reminds me a little of someone that I know and love. Some of the quotes I liked from him are: Mr. Woodhouse: Cake! Surely you're not serving cake at your wedding, Miss Taylor! Far too rich, you put us all at peril! Where is Mr. Perry, the apothecary? I'm sure he will support me! 
Mrs. Weston: Ah, he is over there, Mr. Woodhouse, having some cake. Mr. Woodhouse: What? 
and also, Then please, my dear, encourage no one else. Marriage is so disrupting to one's social circle. 
one that I also keep thinking of, that was definitely in the movie and possibly in the book, "Women are like delicate flowers." I don't know exactly why but I actually laughed out loud at that one. There were so many moments when I would read about Mr. Woodhouse and smile.
Now on to Miss Taylor- "Mrs. WESTON father!" I found her very nice and a wonderful friend and anchor for our Emma. I almost related to her more. She was so kind and gentle, *spoiler* I was so happy that she got a lovely baby girl at the end *end of spoiler*
Mr. and Mrs. Elton were simply, wonderfully atrocious they were so annoying. So amusingly "superior." I enjoyed it and was amused and annoyed at them by turns. The only time I was really mad at Mr. Elton was at the ball. How? How could he do such a thing! I know his wife is a fink, but for some reason he didn't seem as bad. Well, he mus ha've been, because I couldn't comprehend anyone doing such a thing otherwise. And Harriet was in hearing, too!
Ah, Harriet. I liked her, but I never really liked her. Do you understand? Well, if not, I'm afraid I can't explain it. Mr. Knightley was right, as always. Harriet was not a suitable friend for Emma, and visa versa. If they hadn't been friends, Harriet would have accepted Mr. Robert Martin. I loved poor, dear Robert Martin! I don't know exactly what he saw in Harriet, but if he wanted her, he should have her! I'm so glad they did get together in the end! It was about time Harriet got a backbone! I cheered for her as she made her own decision.
Jane was nice, but rather dull. Who wouldn't be reserved and quiet and, possibly even resentful. though in that circumstance? I couldn't have put up with it, that's all I know! Frank Churchill was nice at first, but I couldn't forgive him in the end. What can I say? I have a bad almost-Anne-Shirley- like way about holding grudges sometimes. :) The only thing that kept me from absolutely despising him was how much in love he seemed to be.

I liked the love, humor, and wit in this endearing novel. I love the movie adaptation. (the Emma 2009, I haven;t seen Emma 1996 because it is not on YouTube in its entirety.) I sincerely recommend it to anyone who loves classic novels in general and especially those who like Jane Austen in particular. This was the third book I have read of Jane Austen's. 
Now to finish off with some quotes: (these mostly take place toward the middle and end of the book, as I didn't start marking them until then.)"General benevolence, but not general friendship, made a man what he ought to be." 
"No- Mrs. Knightley;- and, till she is in being, I will manage such maters myself."
"None of that upright integrity, that strict adherence to the truth and principle, that disdain of trick and littleness, which a man should display in every transaction of his life." (I love how Emma was unconsciously describing Mr. Knightley. :)) 
"It darted through her, with the speed of an arrow, that Mr. Knightley must marry no one but herself!"
"Oh God! That I had never seen her!" (a very relate-able quote)
"'My dearest Emma,' said he, 'for dearest you will always be, whatever the event of this hour's conversation, my dearest, most beloved Emma.'" (One of those Ch. 49 quotes!)
"Oh! I always deserve the best treatment, because I never put up with any other." (a very Emma-ish quote)
So, what are your opinions on the book? Who's your favorite character? What's your favorite movie adaptation? I hope you enjoyed this book review, as it's my first!


  1. What a lovely book review! I agree with you on so may points -- I can never really love Emma Woodhouse, Mr. Knightley is delicious, and Mr. Woodhouse makes me laugh aloud!

    But I don't think that Jane Austen is particularly a romance writer. While her books are definitely about women and men falling in love, they're also witty and deft social commentaries on the society she lived in. Much of that is lost on us today, of course, since our own conventions are so different from those of her world. I think that all the relationships -- whether they're romances, friendships, or family relationships -- are equally of interest to her, and the way that marriages disrupt one's family seems to be a theme that runs through all her novels.

    But, of course, they're exceedingly wonderful love stories too, and more enjoyable than most love stories, at least for me :-)

    I can't wait to see what you review next! Oh, and here are my own thoughts on this book: http://theedgeoftheprecipice.blogspot.com/2012/12/emma-by-jane-austen.html That's my other blog, the one devoted solely to books.

    Finally, I LOVE the 1996 movie version -- I hope you can see it!

  2. Oh, and thanks for adding my button to your blog! I'm honored :-)

  3. Your welcome! And I checked out your review... I left you a comment on it. I didn't mean to say J.A. is only a romance writer, and I love your view of her books (and I quite agree with you, she was great at making true to life characters), it's just that I love the romances :)Thanks again!

    1. Her romances are unparalleled, I think because of her great skill at characterization. Would we reread her books if they had no romance? Maybe. Would we reread her books if her characters were less than fully realized? Maybe. It's her winning combination of the two that elevates her above most other novelists.

      (In other words, I love the romances too. I'm nearly finished with P&P again, and in such a fever for Lizzy and Darcy to come to an understanding at last!)