Jane Austen famously described Emma Woodhouse, the title character of her 1815 novel, as “a heroine whom no-one but myself will much like.” Yet generations of readers have loved Emma, as much for her blunders as for her wit and vivacity. Emma, “handsome, clever, and rich,” has nothing else to do but try to pair off her friends, and she consistently misreads the relationships and situations around her as much as she misreads her own heart. The novel features a wonderful cast of characters, including Emma’s hypochondriac father, the odiously prideful Mrs. Elton, the mysterious and reserved Jane Fairfax, and Miss Bates, who never stops talking.
Anna from Diary of an Eccentric is a big Austen fan, just like me ;) So we decided to read Emma and talk about it. I sent her questions and then can be found here. She sent me questions and they can be found in her post here.
I decided not to read the book, instead I listened to the audio on my way to work. It took a while, but it was fun :D And the truth is that it was more fun that reading (as I tried that too.) I am truly the worst Austen lover ever.
But listening made it better, and some things stood out more too. My annoyance with Miss Bates and the horrid Mrs. Elton. I swear that if I ever hear the word Barouche Landau ever again I will have a fit. It made me think of things I had not seen before, and it made me like this novel more.
So a long story short, here are my answers. They will be my review.
Yes, she was the most obnoxious character in the book. I think it's funny that she called her husband "Mr. E," but she was really rude in how she addressed the other characters. And poor Jane Fairfax! Of all the women in Highbury who could have became her "protector," it had to be Mrs. Elton!
Arghh, two words: Barouche Landau! She kept going on and on and on and on! The things she had, her sister. She drove me insane. I felt sorry for anyone that had to keep her company.
2. Did you wonder what kind of person Emma would have been, had her mother lived?
It would have been great to have learned a little about Emma's mother, whether she praised Emma up and down like everyone else. Even when Emma drove me crazy, I reminded myself that if everyone is always telling you how wonderful you are, you're likely to have a bit of a swelled head. I'd also love to know how her mother put up with her father's health obsession and desire to stay at home all the time.
I find it hard answering my own question. As I know nothing about Emma's mother, except that she was good, I really can't say anything. But Emma being Emma I think she would have been pretty much the same as she had a good influence from her governess. Still had her mother lived then her father might have been different and that would have made Emma different too.
3. Mr. Knightley has loved Emma for a long time, but is this not a bit creepy? Considering her age then?
The 16-year difference is a bit much for me, but I didn't think their relationship was creepy. Mostly because I don't think Mr. Knightley realizes that he's actually in love with Emma until he fears she'll marry Frank Churchill, and by then she's 21. I guess the way he scolds Emma like he's her father might be a bit odd, but he's the only one who sees Emma's flaws and offers her some guidance. I guess someone needed to tell her, and he's the closest friend she has.
I did not use to think it was creepy but then he went and said something and I went all euwwwwww! So I will try and forget about that and instead think of them as good friends, as him as an older brother (kind of euww that too). And then as someone who realises that he loves her..when she is old enough. Then the age does not matter anymore.
4. Do you think Mr. Knightley and Emma will live happily ever after?
Yes, I do. I think they're good for each other. He's mature and wise enough to balance out the annoying parts of Emma's personality, and I think her youth would be refreshing for him.
I guess I have to say yes :) This is romance, they should live happily ever after.
5. Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax. Is everything perfect in that relationship or not? Did you believe in their love?
Now that's the relationship that worries me! How Frank flirted with Emma right in front of the woman he supposedly loves...I can only imagine how hurt Jane must have been. I don't know if I could've forgiven him for that, but then again, marrying him would save her from a life of service, so it certainly would have been easier to believe that Frank meant well but just messed up. Because you don't see them falling in love, all you see is his bad behavior, it's hard to believe in their love. We just have to hope for the best.
How many times I read or watch this story I will never ever understand this relationship. I can't see that they love each other. I know they hid it but come on! He flirted shamelessly with Emma, he was mean to Jane when she was around, and not around. How can that be a man in love? And she, no, she is so cold, and she just let him. I think they had been in love, passionately, crazy in love. But it was a passion that will burn out and then they will just be bitter.
6. Has Emma truly learned her lesson, or are more matches in the future?
One could only hope. I wonder how she'd act when her children are grown. I'd like to think that Mr. Knightley's love and attention would keep her in line.
Ha, no, she has more to offer.
7. Miss Bates, annoying or not?
I didn't find Miss Bates annoying because I was always laughing at her babbling. Of course, I wasn't subjected to an entire afternoon of her chattering. Mostly, I felt sorry for her. She really needed a friend, someone to talk to and listen to her, especially with her mother so old and no husband or children. And that comment Emma made to her at the picnic...poor Miss Bates!
I did not use to think it but then I listened to the audio and it was horrible I tell you. She kept going on about trivial things and changed the subject every few minutes. It drove me crazy. So to listen to her for an extended time, no thank you. I do understand her, and feel sorry for her, but yes I was annoyed by her.
Thank you Anna!
Now go to Anna's blog for the rest
Diary of an Eccentric