Thursday, January 22, 2009

Emma - Jane Austen

jane austen
c. 1815
438 pages
completed 1/21/2009

read for: 1% challenge, 1001 books, penguin classics, 100 greatest novels

*may contain spoilers*

I'm so glad I finally read this! I was a bit hesitant after reading Persuasion last year and thinking it kind of dull, but I didn't need to be. Emma was very entertaining and very funny. Just the antics of some of the minor characters like Miss Bates and Mr. Woodhouse would make me smile. They were so odd, but meant so well.

I was extremely glad that Frank Churchill did not turn out like his counterparts in Jane Austen's other novels (Mr. Wickham, Willoughby, Mr. Elliot, etc.). Yes, we thought he was partial to Emma and then all of a sudden JUST KIDDING he's secretly engaged to Jane Fairfax, but it wasn't the same as the others. He still turned out as someone we could like. And I was glad there weren't too many characters we needed to dislike. There were some ridiculous people (again Miss Bates and Mr. Woodhouse) but you still liked them. The only people we really disliked were Mr. Elton who you thought was a sweet guy but who turned out to be a super big time loser and his wife Mrs. Elton who was so full of herself that you wished this was set in a time where she and Emma could just throw down and have done.

When writing Emma, Jane Austen said she wanted to write a heroine only she could like. Emma was spoiled and meddlesome and made a mess of things for Harriet and Mr. Elton. She was very decidedly sure of her superiority over others, such as the Coles and the Martins (though it was interesting that she could close her eyes to the very real possibility of Harriet's inferiority). Her perceptions of people were generally completely wrong, though she continued to think she was able to read people and their characters. So yes, I can see how this could be a heroine that was hard to like, but I think her faults made her more real which in turn made her more likable. It was obvious that most of the time what she did she did for the good of someone else. And the things that she did that were thoughtless and mean, she immediately repented and tried to fix them. I liked this book immensely, however I will always consider Pride and Prejudice my favorite.


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