As cunning as a fox who's just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University.
“And have you never known the pleasure and triumph of a lucky guess? I pity you. I thought you cleverer; for depend upon it, a lucky guess is never merely luck. There is always some talent in it.” - Emma
In my mind it seems a bit superfluous to review a book of Jane Austen’s but in this case I want to write down a few notes about Emma. I love Jane Austen books and Emma is the fourth that I have read. Up until now I would say that Pride and Prejudice is my favourite with Sense and Sensibility in second place while Mansfield Park is my least favourite. But Emma might just rival Pride and Prejudice in my mind and the reason is Emma herself. I find the character of Emma quite fascinating She is flawed and sometimes inconsiderate and annoying but in her I can see a lot of myself.
Jane Austen commented that in Emma she would write a heroine that no one but she would like. I don’t agree with that statement for I like Emma.
“Were I to fall in love, indeed, it would be a different thing; but I have never been in love; it is not my way, or my nature; and I do not think I ever shall.” - Emma
In short the book centers around a young woman in regency England. Austen sums her up at the beginning of the novel in being rich, clever and handsome which seem to be the best characteristics for a regency woman in Jane Austen’s world to have. Emma is certainly blessed but she is also unexperienced, sheltered and bored. She has been the mistress of her father’s house from a young age when her sister married and after her governess marries and moves a very short distance she is left alone in the house with her hypochondriac father. Her boredom is alleviated when she meets a young woman from the town’s boarding school, Harriet Smith, who essentially becomes Emma’s plaything, or at least her love life does. Harriet Smith is very pretty but also a bit dim and very naive. Though Emma herself professes that she will never marry she takes great interest in making matches for the people around her with Harriet at the centre often leading one to think: “poor Harriet.”
“One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.” - Emma
A major theme in the book is position in society and the consequences of inequality of rank and social status in marriage or friendship. Emma is at the top of Highbury society while Harriet, an illegitimate girl with unknown parentage, is certainly not. Emma decides to lift Harriet’s status as she is certain that she is the daughter of a gentleman.
I’m not going to say much more about the storyline itself, in case any reader of this review hasn’t already read it, but I will say that the reason Emma ranks as one of my favourite Jane Austen books is because of the gradual change in Emma, she grows up a little bit, sees errors of her ways, learns to better herself and is willing to change her mind about people. I will end by saying I thoroughly recommend Emma to anyone who is interested in Jane Austen.