Sunday, February 13, 2011

"Emma" by Jane Austen

Published: 1815
Read: 2011
Genre: Fiction: classic
Setting: Highbury, England; early 19th century
Rating: 4
Review: Goodreads

I've had my Nook since April 2010 and have been undecided about it's usefulness. I like to dog-ear, underline and write in the margins of my books and find the Nook's highlight feature sorely lacking.   However, the other night, I downloaded 100 classic books (in two volumes) for only $6.  Can't beat that.

Emma is the first book I chose to read, mainly to see what additional nuggets could be gleaned beyond the movie adaptations.

As opposed to the protagonist in Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennett, whom I really like, I wasn't sure about Emma Woodhouse.  As the story unfolds, her actions denote a proud, spoiled, arrogant, manipulative, petulant girl/woman.  Saving grace is her naivety and interestingly enough, her selflessness.  For the motivation for her manipulating events and people is for their best interest (according to what she thinks, of course).  This is evidenced by the match-making of Miss Taylor, her governess and dearest friend to Mr. Weston.  She would never have done this, if truly selfish.  As it turns out, her father, Mr. Woodhouse, is far more self-centered than she.

Over the course of the book, I was back-and-forth on my opinion of her.  But in the end, her self reflection and corresponding ability to accept fault won me over.

Memorable quotes:
When she was soundly rebuked by Mr. Knightly regarding her careless and hurtful words to Miss Bates:
"Never had she felt so agitated, mortified, grieved, at any circumstance in her life. She was most forcibly struck. The truth of this representation there was not denying. She felt it at her heart.  How could she have been so brutal, so cruel to Miss Bates?"

When she realized how arrogant she has been regarding the matchmaking games:
"With insufferable vanity had she believed herself in the secret of every body's feelings; with unpardonable arrogance proposed to arrange every body's destiny.  She was proved to have been universally mistaken; and she had not quite done nothing - for she had done mischief.  She had brought evil on Harriet, on herself, and she too much feared, on Mr. Knightley."

When she found out that Harriet had accepted Mr. Martin's proposal of marriage and therefore she herself, could be truly happy to accept Mr. Knightley's proposal:
"The joy, the gratitude, the exquisite delight of her sensations may be imagined. The sole grievance and alloy thus removed in the prospect of Harriet's welfare, she was really in danger of becoming too happy for security.  What had she to wish for? Nothing, but to grow more worthy of him, whose intentions and judgment had been ever so superior to her own.  Nothing, but that the lessons of her past folly might teach her humility and circumspection in future." 
What else can be said about Jane Austen's writing other than sheer brilliance?  I look forward to reading her other books.


  1. Beautiful :) I have just stumbled upon your blog. Losing my parents to cancer in my 20s caused me to delve into literature and writing also. I am currently working on a PhD thesis where I am looking at how grief is represented in literature and how the art of literature can convey the traumatic wound. Keep writing, your blog looks fantastic :)

  2. Have you read John Green's 'The Fault in Our Stars'? Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.” (Green 2012).
    Beautiful :)