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Book Review: Emma

Gabrielle C. '18, Associate Editor

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  The Jane Austen classic, Emma, has been adored by multitudes of peoples for years. It is considered to be the longest and most difficult novel that Austen has written. Emma was assigned to the junior class as a summer reading requirement this past summer.

    The novel is about a young woman named Emma Woodhouse, who is very clever but ends up being wrong often. Emma soon believes that she has a natural talent for matchmaking after her governess, Miss Taylor, is married to a local widower, Mr. Weston; they were matchmade by Emma. Emma then tries to pair her friend Harriet Smith with Mr. Elton. This eventually backfires on Emma because she discovers that Mr. Elton has feelings for her, not Harriet. After being rejected by Emma, Mr. Elton goes away for three weeks and returns with a wife, whom comes from a wealthy family and is quite snobbish. Two new characters soon come to Highbury, Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill. Emma is not fond of Jane at first because Emma claims that Jane is too plain and reserved; when in reality Emma is simply jealous of her. Emma and Frank flirt with each when he comes to visit his father, Mr. Weston. Emma at first thinks that Frank is visiting Highbury more frequently because of her, but turns out that Frank and Jane were secretly engaged to each and were waiting to make the announcement after Frank’s aunt had passed away. Emma thinks Harriet will be heartbroken, but it is later revealed that Harriet never had feelings for Frank; she had feelings for Mr. Knightley. When Harriet mentions this new piece of information to Emma, Emma realizes that she loves Mr. Knightley. By the end of the novel, Harriet marries Mr. Robert Martin, Jane marries Mr. Frank Churchill, and Mr. Knightly declares his love for Emma and marries her.

    Though it is very difficult to follow the “who loves who” portion of the story, it is an overall excellent story because it raises all sorts of questions. For example, if Emma is so erudite than why is she constantly wrong? Because Emma is so opposed to marriage for herself in the beginning of the novel, is she really happy being married in the end? Or why would Mr. Martin propose to Harriet a second time after she rejected him the first time? The novel keeps people questioning and guessing long after reading it. Emma is the perfect novel to read during a quiet day and great to share with a friend.

 

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