Its been a while, eh? Classics takes me a little more time to read and after the misery that Mansfield Park put me through, I needed a longer break. But we’re back and I went ahead and read Emma. Emma was the first book I ever read of Jane Austen and it was for college (in Quebec). I read it for this Cinema and Novels themed English class, I believe. I can’t say I’ve improved my speed at reading it but its better than taking two months to read it at least (like for Mansfield Park) 😉
Let’s check it out!
by: Jane Austen
When her former governess finds happiness as the bride of a local widower, the brilliant and beautiful Emma Woodhouse — one of Jane Austen’s immortal creations — flatters herself that she alone has secured the marriage and that she possesses a special talent for bringing lovers together. The young heiress next busies herself with finding a suitable husband for her friend and protégé, Harriet Smith, setting off an entertaining sequence of comic mishaps and misunderstanding in this sparkling comedy of English-village romance. Beneath its considerable wit, the novel is also the story of a young woman’s progress toward self-understanding. – Goodreads
Emma is an interesting novel. My feelings towards them are a little mixed. On one hand, its probably the Jane Austen book with the biggest character development since I’ve started reading her novels. I still have a few to go but so far, that is how I feel. Emma is a little slow and sometimes, it takes a while to get fully immersed especially with a pretty abundant amount of characters that I tend to get a little confused for the first half. The beginning was decent, the middle was a little slow and then the ending was fantastic. Its hard to pinpoint how I feel because of the difference of how I felt during different part of the novel, but the ending itself really pulled me in completely.
Emma is a very well-developed character. It kind of makes us feel like she is an endearing and truly loveable character with the best intentions but her inexperience with the world gives her false ideas of what others intentions are as they really are not as pure. Its funny because she believes that what she is doing is good but then as I read it sometimes, Emma is kind of a self-centred brat. Except, its not fully the case because the novel is all about Emma growing up and noticing her decisions.
Mr. Knightley is a respectable character. He is no Mr. Darcy but he is more mature and the guiding light to Emma’s views even when she initially always goes against what he advises. She just doesn’t see him because he just this nuisance that helps his father out a lot. In many ways, Mr. Knightley is a character that kind of really shifts quite a bit. He doesn’t really show much of his feelings but we do know that he has the best intentions out for Emma even if he doesn’t agree with her actions yet he is still very forgiving.
In Emma, I think the most challenging part is really seeing who each of the character’s true feelings are. Harriet is Emma’s protege and for the most part, she suffers from not having a mind of her own while Emma pours some false fantasies in her head and control her feelings. Emma never quite knows how she feels and tries to even control her own actions. At the same time, Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax are pretty hidden as well. Emma really is interesting in the end because all the little secrets open up and we get the picture of who everyone is.
Its hard to say that I enjoyed Emma thoroughly but even though it was a little slow in the middle, it does have a great ending especially with Emma learning about her feelings and embracing some of the decisions she has made and reconciling with whoever she has. Its not an easy book to read since I don’t read a lot of classics but its a lot more entertaining than Mansfield Park. What works best here is the character development as they slowly grow, especially watching Emma grow.
Have you read Emma? What are your thoughts?