Author: Jane Austen
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Feminism, Romance
Pace: Slow in part I, but picks up in part II
Publisher: Vintage Classics
5th sentence, 74th page: She must abide by the evil of having refused him, whatever it may be and as to the refusal itself, I will not pretend to say that I might not influence her a little; but I assure you there was very little for me or for anybody to do.
Emma is young, rich and independent. She has decided not to get married and instead spends her time organising her acquaintances’ love affairs. Her plans for the matrimonial success of her new friend Harriet, however, lead her into complications that ultimately test her own detachment from the world of romance.
I can remember reading Emma for my major assignment in Year 12 English Studies. And I’m sure that I wrote many fancy things about the techniques, and the hidden meanings to the story. And just a whole hoop-la of technical jargon that showed what a great piece of writing Emma is. But, honestly, that doesn’t actually tell you if it’s a good story to read or not. After all, something can be technically brilliant, but completely boring (and tedious) to read. But, I digress, rereading this story not only left me thinking about and reminiscing on the joys of English Studies and the hours spent comparing and contrasting very random texts, but it also reminded me of just how much I love the word of Jane Austen.
We are all victims of our own presumptions, and quite often pride, in one way or another. Emma’s journey of blunders and mistakes is on the one hand incredibly entertaining, but on the other, it is startlingly familiar. There are moments in all of our lives that we look back on with regret, and not a small amount of shame – and Emma’s tale just heightens this sense. She is constantly making presumptions and acting under her own volition, without thinking about her own fallibility, or the genuine needs of others. Yet, luckily, as with all good stories, the happy ending of the story leads to the incredibly naïve heroine to recognise her flaws, realise her blunders and find a way to move forward in life as a new, complete woman.
Although I love Emma madly, I do find the story to be a little heavy as far as dialogue is concerned. Especially in those moments when Miss Bates is running off on one of her fancies. Although I’m sure that this was purposeful on the behalf of Austen, it does make the first two volumes of this novel a little more tedious and difficult to stick with. However, as the story progresses, it is easy enough to understand what is happening when the many principal characters decide to have long, and rambling conversations.
Although this story was written in the 1800s, and the idea of marriage for a woman and class systems were very intense, I still find this to be a story about a strong woman and her independence. Emma is determined not to marry, and when she does eventually find someone to whom she can see herself spending her life, it is still done to her terms. Emma’s strength of character and the ability to find a man who loves her all for herself is a really enjoyable read, and a reminder that although there has been over 200 years since this book was published, some of the themes and messages are still relevant today.
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