It took more than a month, but I did it. I read Jane Austens Emma , and it was awesome. I loved the way that Emma matured and discovered herself, how amazing Harriet was and also the emotional complexity. Because I watched the (fabulous) youtube series Emma Approved I couldn’t help but use gif’s in this review.
Emma Woodhouse is an independent character. She’s totally happy where she is. She has a father and friends and is at the top of her society of HIghbury. She’s very arrogant, but also very people smart. She is devastated when her best friend and confidante, Annie Taylor, moves away (two whole miles down the road) because she got married. The evening of the wedding, the Woodhouse’s friend George Kinghtley visits, and we see that he is one of the very few people who percieve any real fault in Emma. At this point, Emma is like :
But Emma isn’t worried for long. With ‘Miss Taylor’ gone, she makes friends with Harriet, a girl of unknown parentage and of a lower social class who adores Emma. If her matchmaking was so successful for the Westons, Emma is determined to continue. She sets up Harriet with Mr Elton, which goes terribly (because he’s in love with Emma) and makes her question everything she thought she knew about people. And longing for revenge
Then Emma meets Frank Churchill, Mr Westons son. He seems amazing, and he is very suave. The question is, who does he like? And who does she like? And why is Mr. Knightley angry all the time? No spoilers but I’ll give you some gifs.
I did take a while to get into the classic writing. Everything is said obliquely. I was reading this for fun though, not English class, and I could decipher it. The writing is actually quite funny at times, and Jane Austen is very sarcastic.
“It was almost enough to make her think of marrying”
Women are definitely inferior and in their social place. Yet within that clearly defined society, women have all the power. This is my second Austen book-I’ve read all of Pride and Prejudice and part of Sense and Sensibility, and Austen writes women really, really well. To some extent the minor characters- like Mrs. Elton and Mrs (not Miss) Bates- are interchangeable, and they don’t have much personality. But neither do the men. Within their rigid societies the women have a lot of power, as is shown when Emma goes around manipulating her friends. Emma’s amazingness, but her human flaws- arrogance, assumptions and cruelety were portrayed so well. I was like this by the end
Another thing I appreciated was awareness of social class. Jane Austen was white, educated and (relatively) wealthy, as are all her characters. They are expected to get married. Yet the genuine relationship that Emma and the one other person (who is quite obvious, but no spoilers) find is beyond that. The mentions of Harriet’s social class only befitting her to someone like Robert Martin did irritate me, but it is important to consider Emma as a product of it’s time. And it isn’t like class barriers are gone-in any way- today, but Emma reminds us that is could be worse. The interactions with the Bateses- and what Emma learns from her harsh judgment of kind people, helped develop the theme of humility and thoughtfulness.
Emma was a good book. I loved the character devilopment, the dialogue and the characters. It talks about female friendship, social class and other issues at a time when that wasn’t important. If you want to read a thoughtful classic, and can get pas a flawed character (which is good) and a slightly petty plot, you’ll love it.
How do you feel about classic books? Have you read Emma? Have you watched EA? tell me in the comments!