I just recently finished Emma, by Jane Austen, and decided to share my opinion of it with you.
I love this book. I love it like Flynn loves Rapunzel. I love it like a fat kid loves cupcakes. I love it like Winnie the Pooh loves honey. I love it like Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir love to pack a ridiculous amount of suitcases so they can look like a spectacle at the Olympics.
I love it more than Pride and Prejudice.
Well, maybe not more, but as much, at least.
There might be small spoilers ahead. If you don’t want to know who Emma marries, don’t keep reading. If you didn’t want to know that Emma marries at all, well, that’s unrealistic. We’re talking about Jane Austen here. Everyone gets married.
It’s pure enjoyment. Light-hearted and fun, the book shows Austen’s wit at its finest. The fact that that Emma is an unreliable narrator makes it even better. She’s almost always being ridiculous, and most of the other characters are as well.
It’s comedy in its purest form: the entire book is based off of misunderstandings, and it’s hilarious to read.
I enjoy a good underdog story–the pauper is actually a prince, the weak guy gets the powers, the poor girls marry the rich bachelors.
Every once in a while, though, it’s nice to see the other side.
Emma is rich. She has everything going for her. She doesn’t have any of the worries that the Bennetts or the Dashwoods have. Her struggles are different.
She doesn’t have to worry about her family’s social status or financial difficulties–she doesn’t really have to worry at all. Her problem is entirely herself.
Emma can be insufferable at times. She’s arrogant, meddling, and sometimes just plain mean. Austen herself thought that Emma would be “a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.” But she was wrong. Somehow, despite all her faults and blunders, Emma Woodhouse is decidedly lovable.
The thing about Emma is that she’s almost always wrong about people and what’s best for them. Her mistakes, though, come from a real desire to do good. Yes, she’s mistaken and misguided by her own prejudices, but when she finally gets over those prejudices, she immediately does the right thing.
There’s a little bit of Emma in all of us, I think. Maybe that’s why I love her so much.
First of all, can we just talk about this name? Mr. Knightley. Talk about the epitome of masculinity and strength.
George Knightley. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Edward Ferrars.
It’s like comparing chocolate to Tootsie Rolls.
Mr. Knightley is the best. (Yes, he’s even better than Mr. Darcy.) Girls swoon over the brooding, moody types or the charming, flirtatious types, but in the end, a strong, steady guy like Mr. Knightley is who’s going to stand by you through thick and thin.
He’s known Emma since she was born, and he’s acted like an older brother to her for twenty-one years. Which means he knows her best. Which means he loves her best. Which means he doesn’t let her get away with being a brat.
He’s pretty much perfect. He’s honest and considerate and kind. He’s a little ornery, but even that’s endearing.
Honestly, the only thing I have to criticize him for is being sixteen years older than Emma.
And that’s actually Austen’s fault.
The Supporting Cast
The rest of the characters in the book are equally lovable.
There’s Mr. Woodhouse, whose constant state of worry makes for excellent comic relief.
There’s poor little Harriet Smith, who can’t seem to catch a break.
There’s Mr. Elton, the obnoxious clergyman. He doesn’t bring as much to the book as his insufferable wife.
There’s Miss Bates, who provides pages at a time of entertaining rambling.
There’s John Knightley (Mr. Knightley’s brother), an absolute crab whose complaining is fun to read.
There’s Frank Churchill, who–well, the best thing about him is how much Mr. Knightley dislikes him.
One thing I like about this book is that there isn’t an antagonistic character–there are no Wickhams or Willoughbys. Mr. Elton is a definite Mr. Collins with an excellently hate-able wife, but there are no real bad guys to be seen–nothing dangerous going on in Highbury.
Except for Emma, that is.
Go buy it. Go read it.
If you don’t like it, I’m very sorry for you.
You must have some aversion to having fun.