December closes the 200-year anniversary of Jane Austen’s beloved Emma — so I thought I’d spend my last two posts of the year giving her a nod.
It’s hard for me to believe that a story that feels so contemporary is 200 years old. In writing Dear Mr. Knightley, I studied Emma more fully and found that everything Emma encounters we do today as well – struggles with pride, friendships, understanding love, discerning character, accepting change, growing responsibilities and facing our own foibles.
I adore Austen’s Emma – the girl and the book. Austen commented that Emma was “A heroine whom no one but myself will much like.” Yet, I think she knew we’d all love her — at least suspected it. After all, Austen rarely got anything regarding human nature amiss. Only her friend, Fanny K., “could not bear Emma herself” but found “Mr. Knightley delightful.”
I think the real reason we delight in Emma, shake our heads at her and roll our eyes at times, is because we see ourselves within her. We may not control our universe, or small village, with such aplomb, but we do struggle with the emotions and the need for transformation – continually – that Emma undergoes.
I recently read an article that claimed Emma was a novel about humility. I posted the article below because I think the author makes some wonderful points and you should read her words rather than my derivative thoughts on them. Also, it’s a wonderful piece about lessons learned through Austen’s novels and I always find those interesting. Austen packs a lot in each story.
Back to Emma…. Waldman’s theory struck me… A novel about humility. I have to admit I hadn’t grasped that on my own. But the more I thought about it and these few lines of Emma’s self-revelation, I saw the brilliance, the truth, of her theory — and Austen’s irony in exposing Emma’s self-absorption and singular transformation by naming the novel only Emma.
Upon my word […] I begin to doubt my having any such talent. – doubts emerging Emma, the transformation begins…
A mind like hers, once opening to suspicion, made rapid progress. She touched—she admitted— she acknowledged the whole truth. – Clever girl, beginning to see.
With insufferable vanity had she believed herself in the secret of every body’s feelings; with unpardonable arrogance proposed to arrange every body’s destiny. She was proved to have been universally mistaken; and she had not quite done nothing—for she had done mischief. – Getting there slowly, with much drama.
Thanks for joining me today. Have a great day and tell me your thoughts – and I’d love to know your favorite Austen story…