Emma

AuthorJane Austen
TitleEmma
PublisherEveryman’s Library Cop.

London. 1991
First published in 1816
MottoThe book does not have a motto.

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I chose this book because I read Pride and Prejudice and I absolutely loved it. My mother told me Jane Austen wrote another book like it called Emma’, and I decided to try it.

I expected the story to be about the life of a young woman from the middle or rich upper-class living in England in the 19th century. This is also why I chose the book; I’m really interested in that time and the way people were then.


Short summary
After her beloved governess, Miss Taylor, leaves Hartfield to become Mrs. Weston, Emma Woodhouse finds herself in need of a friend. The answer is Harriet Smith, a girl of questionable origins whom Emma decides to improve. Emma sets Harriet up with Mr. Elton and she is very surprised when Mr. Elton reveals that he loves her, not Harriet. Emma, offended at the idea, refuses him.


Then the son of Mr. Weston, Frank Churchill, arrives in town. The Westons secretly hope he and Emma will become attached. Emma is at first attracted to the handsome young man, but she loses interest after his first visit. The Eltons return to town, and Emma and Harriet must suffer under the vain and self-important Mrs. Elton
When Frank Churchill returns Emma imagines that Harriet would be a much better match for the young man. At a ball, however, Emma is the one who dances with Mr.Churchill and Harriet dances with Mr. Knightley.

Not much later Mrs. Weston reveals to Emma that Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax had been secretly attached and are now engaged. Emma reassures them that she does not love Frank Churchill, but she fears for Harriet. Harriet is not distressed by the news. She does not love Mr. Churchill, she is in love with Mr. Knightley. Hearing this makes Emma realize that she loves Mr. Knightley too. Uncertain what to do, Emma sends Harriet away, to give herself time to think. During her absence, Mr. Knightley returns from London, fearing how Emma will handle the news of Frank Churchill’s engagement. Finding her undisturbed and not in love, Mr. Knightley tells Emma he loves her, and she returns his love.
Emma’s only worry now is how Harriet will react when Emma tells her she is engaged to Mr. Knightley, but luckily the worrying doesn’t last long.
Harriet meets Mr. Martin in London, and he proposes to her and she accepts.
In September Harriet and Mr. Martin marry, in October Emma and Mr. Knightley, and in November Mr. Churchill and Miss Fairfax.


The characters
Emma Woudhouse is the main character. She is 20 years old and she lives with her daddy at Hartfield. Her mother has died a long time ago. She is beautiful, intelligent, and wealthy but sometimes (unfortunately) a real snob. She doesn’t notice that the qualities of people can’t be seen from the outside, but that they mainly have to do with the inside. Sje judges every book by it’s cover.


Mr. Woodhouse is Emma’s father. He has en extremely bad health and he leaves the management of his company to his youngest daughter (Emma).


George Knightley is a 38 year old widower and a close friend of Emma (also because his brother has been married to Emma’s sister). He knows Emma very well and he is the only one who can make Emma see her mistakes.
Mr. Elton is a young man whom Emma wants to match with Harriet. However, he is actually in love with Emma. Later he will marry another woman.


Harriet Smith is 17 years old. During the book she becomes Emma’s best friend. Harriet, like Emma, is also beautiful. She does everything Emma says she has to do. (like not to marry with Robert the farmer because he is just a normal person). She hasn’t got her own opinion.


Frank Churchill is the son of Mr. Weston. A lot of women find him very attractive. At the end of the story he marries Jane Fairfax. For a short time he likes Emma.


Jane Fairfax is a very pretty and intelligent young woman, like Emma. Emma likes gossiping about Jane.


The time
The length of time covered in the story is about a year. Between the beginning and the end of the story there’s a picnic in the summer and a Christmas party.
This story is told in chronological order, there are no flashbacks or flashforwards in this story.


The narrator
The story is told by an omniscient narrator. In this book the omniscient narrator is the writer. She knows everything in the book.


The setting
The story is set in Hartfield and in Highbury in England at the beginning of the 19th century. There are also several chapters in which other places are described, like London.
The story concentrates on the upper-class layer of the population.


The title
The main-character of this book is Emma Woodhouse and the book has been called after her.


Extra assignments
For the extra assignment I chose background reading. I am going to write a short report about the author, Jane Austen, her life and her works.

Jane Austen was born at the rectory in Steventon, Hampshire, her father being a clergyman, and lived for most of her life in the area. She had six brothers, and an elder sister, Cassandra, to whom she was very close. Her brothers Frank and Charles went to sea, eventually becoming admirals. She received an education superior to that generally given to girls of her time, and took early to writing, her first tale being begun in 1798. Her life was a singularly uneventful one and tranquil and happy. In 1801 the family moved to Bath, the scene of many episodes in her writings; after the death of her father in 1805, Jane, her sister and her mother lived with her brother Frank and his family for several years until they moved in 1809 to Chawton. Here her wealthy brother Edward had an estate with a cottage, which he turned over to his mother and sisters. (Their house today is open to the public.) Jane never married; she was once engaged to a younger man, Harris Bigg-Wither, but changed her mind overnight. Having established herself as a novelist, she continued to live in relative seclusion, and began to suffer ill-health. It is now thought she may have suffered from Addison’s Disease, the cause of which was then unknown. She travelled to Winchester to seek medical attendance, but so rapid was the progress of her malady that she died there two months later and was buried in the cathedral.

Her reputation has only increased since, and she is now considered one of the greatest English novelists. Her strength lies in the delineation of character, especially of persons of her own sex, by delicate touches arising out of the most natural and everyday incidents in the life of the middle and upper classes, from which her subjects are generally taken. Her characters are drawn with such firmness and precision, and with such significant detail as to retain their individuality intact through their entire development, and they are uncoloured by her own personality. Her view of life seems largely genial, with a strong dash of gentle but keen satire: she appeals rarely and slightly to the deeper feelings; and the enforcement of the lessons she teaches is left altogether to the story, without a word of formal moralising. Almost every scene in her novels features women, purportedly because she did not know how men spoke when not in the presence of women. Some contemporary readers may find the world she describes, in which people’s chief concern is obtaining socially prominent marriages, to be unliberated and disquieting; however one should bear in mind that a “good marriage” was then the only available form of social security other than degrading work as governess, or living as hanger-on in a relative’s household.

This is a list of her works:
Sense and Sensibility
Pride and Prejudice
Mansfield Park
Emma
Northanger Abbey
Persuasion
She also wrote three shorter pieces:
Lady Susan
The Watsons (incomplete novel)
Sanditon (incomplete novel)
Her early works include:
Henry and Eliza
The Three Sisters
Love and Freindship sic
The History of England
Catharine, or the Bower
The Beautifull Cassandra