Okay, I can stop scaring you now.
So far, all my posts have been reasonably brief. So now, I shall make up for that with a very very long Emma post. I promised to write one of those a while ago...
So here it is!
Okay, first I'm going to tell you how I met Jane Austen, and then I'm going to pick apart the WHOLE story and tell you what I do and do not like about my favorite novel.
Once upon a time, a girl who blogs under the pseudonym, "Miss Jane Bennet," was very exceedingly Bored. For she had been charmed by every book at that great and powerful Facility, the library, and at her home. Or so this misled girl believed. Thus she went to ask her wise Mother if there really was not anything to read, anywhere, for she was sinking under the great Pool of Boredom and felt exceedingly vexed. That day, however, her luck was with her, for her Mother suggested that she read Emma. This great tome was by a lovely lady named JANE AUSTEN and was the (alas!) shortest Jane Austen book the girl's family had.
The girl started it in good faith and found the first chapters (forgive me PLEASE!) very exceedingly Boring. She kept reading, however, because after all, what else was there to do?
So she struggled on through the great dry desert that was Emma, and succeeded in finishing it. She was very proud of this accomplishment.
Then, she saw the next great novel of the Her Greatness Jane Austen, and figured, Why not? Thus it came about that she read Sense and Sensibility. She enjoyed this book well enough- at least, it was superior to Emma- but still it didn't seem to her a good novel. But it was good, and so she read the last book the family had, Pride and Prejudice, and was HOOKED forever.
Okay, I CANNOT keep doing this anymore. The rest of the story in non-medieval language:
I ended up reading all the Jane Austen books, and liked them exceedingly. I followed Jane Austen blogs, through which I was introduced to the Scarlet Pimpernel. (More on that in a later post.)
I thought that I MUST be missing something, because so many people liked Emma and Sense and Sensibility. So I went back and reread the books, determined to be pleased, and enjoyed them (I really like this word, sorry) exceedingly.
Only it wasn't. I couldn't decide which was my favorite. Whichever book I was reading was my favorite. When I read a different one, that one became my favorite. I laughed at Tilney, was charmed by Wentworth and cried with Anne when she read The Letter, identified with Fanny Price and Lizzy Bennet (I am a shy, prejudiced person, sad to say), admired Elinor Dashwood, and thought "Knightley" the epitome of knightlEyness. It's spelled with an E, everybody. This is a standard warning on every Austen site in existence. Lizzy uses a Y, Knightley is spelled with an E, and Austen is always, ALWAYS AustEn. With an E. Don't forget it.
All right, I think I've covered someone from all the books.
Oh yeah, and while hating her, I was also vaguely impressed by Lady Susan. (NOT that I would EVER want to be like her.)
Back to Emma.
So, I couldn't decide which was my favorite Austen book, as I've said before. Thus, I simply picked the one who had given me the inglorious introduction to Austen: Emma. The first one I've read is always the best, in my opinion. Same for movies, which is partly why I like S&S71 better than any other S&S. I mean, besides the fact that I haven't watched any of the other versions.
But I digress.
See? This post is going to be really long.
All RIGHT already, I'll stop going off on random tangents. First, I'll go through the main characters and pick them apart and expose their flaws and their virtues. (I may have to make this into more than one post, by the way.)
Okay. Let's get started already.
Note: Those who haven't read the book...read it right now! Then come back and read this post, because there are plenty of spoilers.
It makes sense to start with the person the book is named after, right? Then I'll start with...(drumroll please)
By the way, the 2009 version is my favorite movie (TV?) adaptation of Emma.
Emma is the heroine (obviously) and is...complicated. She's kind-hearted and means well, but she causes big problems in the other characters' lives by her unnecessary meddling. She is definitely not my favorite Austen heroine (that honor belongs to...oh goodness, I can't decide. I TOLD you! But maybe...either Lizzy Bennet, Fanny Price, or Elinor Dashwood.) but she gained my respect and love as the story went on. She begins as being a somewhat spoiled, rich young woman who has been petted, told she is higher than anybody else in Highbury (Heh. Pun unintended.) (the town where she lives) and has been pretty much able to run the household since she was 12. Now, that's a little bit impressive, but whatever.
She is very pretty and clever, but she's not especially vain about either of those attributes. That's a plus. However, she does have an ingrained sense of not only her own self-worth, but her self-importance.
But...those are pretty much just petty things in her character. Her main flaw is thinking that she knows better than anyone else what's best for them...and that she'll act upon that belief. (She's kind of like a parent when she says, "I know what's best for you better than you do," only parents really do, and she's still...not naive exactly, but inexperienced. She's been sheltered for most of her (pretty short) life, and she doesn't have the wisdom to be able to effectually guide anyone safely through life.
As the story goes on, Emma causes big problems in many characters' lives, especially Harriet Smith's. Harriet is Emma's new friend who looks up to her with practically hero worship. This (as Mr. Knightley says) is bad for Emma. She does NOT need another worshiper.
Harriet receives a proposal from the man she loves, but she turns to Emma for help, who advises (surreptitiously) to refuse him because she considers the man to be beneath Harriet's station. Harriet does so, and to get Harriet's mind off Robert Martin (the guy who proposed), Emma leads her to believe that Mr. Elton, a charming, unmarried clergyman, loves her. In Emma's defense, she really does believe herself that Elton loves Harriet, because he visits Hartfield (Emma's house) so often. But anyway, Harriet falls madly in love with Mr. Elton. This leads to disaster when, on the way home from a Christmas party, Mr. Elton proposes to HER and claims he never thought of Harriet except as Emma's friend. Emma (needless to say) refuses him, and breaks the news as gently as possible to Harriet, who is heartbroken. Emma (to her credit) feels very remorseful and attempts to comfort Harriet in every way possible.
In the meantime, Mr. Knightley has been introduced. I had a hard time figuring out what relation he was to Emma, so I'll just tell you now: he's the older brother of Emma's older sister (Isabella Woodhouse)'s husband (John Knightley). He acts as sort of an adviser to Emma. He's the only person who not only sees flaws in Emma, but is willing to tell her about them (sternly, too!). This makes Emma respect and admire him, while disliking him at times for daring to find fault with her.
Back to the storyline.
Emma thinks that the best cure for Harriet would be to make her fall in love with ANOTHER man. Baaaaaad idea. Harriet does fall in love again, but she falls in love (BIG SPOILER ALERT) with Mr. Knightley. At first, Emma doesn't want to interfere, so she won't let Harriet tell her the name of the man she loves now. She does encourage Harriet in her love, though, because she thinks Harriet is in love with a different guy. Not Mr. Knightley. When she realizes that not only does Harriet love Mr. Knightley, but that she suspects that the affection is returned, she finally figures out that she loves Mr. Knightley. She also realizes how foolish and blind she's been, by making Harriet refuse Martin and that she may have ruined her own life. Agitated and sorrowful, she goes for a walk in the garden, and there meets none other than Mr. Knightley, who confesses that he loves her and proposes. She (obviously!) says yes, and though she's sorry for Harriet, won't let that stand in the way of her own and Mr. Knightley's happiness.
After breaking the news to Harriet, she suggests that Harriet go to London with Isabella Woodhouse to take her mind off things, and Harriet (who, I think, is slightly resentful) accepts gladly. There she meets Robert Martin, who proposes again. Harriet accepts, and the story ends happily ever after. END OF BIG SPOILERS.
I think that Emma is the most human of the heroines. She has flaws- pretty big ones- and these are what make some readers never warm up to her. But she improves, matures, and gains wisdom as the story goes on. I think that it is because of this humanity that she is either detested or loved, and that's what makes the story of Emma so endearing.
Sorry, but if I did articles this long on every one of the characters, I'd be typing all day. I'm turning this into a series that will last however long is necessary. Please tell me if you want this series continued every day or between different topics in the comments below! Thanks!
Notes: I'll be continuing the Emma series, either all in a row, or in between different topics, probably for quite some time. Please comment and suggest different topics. As soon as I get a few members, I'm going to do a game or a blog party.
-Miss Jane Bennet