Welcome to The Writers’ Block by Austen Authors!
Jane Austen’s Reading Salon is the board where we freely showcase our writing: short stories, excerpts, deleted scenes, poetry, and other assorted samples, both Austenesque and beyond Austen’s world. This is a “read-only” board. Read to your heart’s content and check back periodically for new posts.A A A
January 16, 2015
So, what do you think? Emma can be pretty useful, can’t she?
What’s your opinion of her so far? How about Harriet? And Mr Woodhouse?
Dare I mention Mr Martin and Mr Elton 😉 ?
If you’ve read ’Emma’ before, have you discovered anything new this time?
Let’s have a chat, I can’t wait to hear what you’re thinking!
I can’t say I have developed a liking for any characters yet….not a one. Well, perhaps Mr. Martin seems the most likeable at present. I don’t want to slap Emma….I wish for her to go sit in her guilded tower and look down her nose at one and all and leave me alone. 🙂 I found it a chore to do the reading and if it were not JA’s work and just a book I had picked up from the library, I would return it, unread about now….well after peeking at the ending…one must always peek at ending even of books you don’t like before you return them. 🙂
I find at this point in the story I am very disappointed in Mrs. Weston. She seems to have schooled Emma in many subjects but had neglected the most important. I do find I feel a bit sorry for Miss Woodhouse since she has been locked up with few friends all her life and has to live with such a silly father. But her snobbery is beginning to lessen that pity. We’ll see if Mr. Knightley and Mrs. Weston can soothe my feelings…but I fear I am a good deal like Darcy and once my good opinion is lost…well, it will be hard to regain.
January 16, 2015
Thanks, lovely ladies, for your amazing comments (and sorry, Leenie, can’t figure out why but there was no button to click to say thanks to your post, which is a huge shame because I loved it!! Especially the good opinion once lost… and the peeking at the ending 😀 )
It’s amazing what great job Jane Austen does with making us dislike Emma intensely to begin with. She really has nothing going for her at first, and not for a fair while yet, except the ability to appreciate Mrs Weston, who’s a darling, and to put up with her father’s moody selfishness.
I can easily see why none of the characters seem engaging yet, Leenie, but hang on, Mr Knightley hasn’t made much of an appearance yet. And his brother, for all his secondary role, is a pretty good egg too. And dear Miss Bates. Could chew your ear off, but not a bad bone in her body.
LOL Alexa re Lady Susan and wanting to give Emma a good slap, she really acts like she deserves it. Spoilt and full of herself, and even more dangerously so because she’s mean and supercillious without being as obvious with it as, say, Miss Bingley. And Harriet is so puppy-like I want to give her a good shake too.
Thanks for reading and joining the conversation, like a yummy delight Austen is always best shared!
December 27, 2014
I’m surprised to see such universal dislike of Emma so far. I’ve read the book several times now, although this is the first time in a few years, and I’ve always felt her flaws were so very minor and ordinary. It’s the difference between what kept me going back to Emma versus P&P countless times.
What I’m noticing the most this time is that I think Emma doesn’t know any other way to show she cares but to chide and direct. Her father does it to everyone he knows and Mrs. Weston, while Emma says so much about them being friends and she clearly was a surrogate mother, was first and foremost a governess- a teacher. Knowing that Jane Fairfax comes into the mix later on and is slated to become a governess, added with the mixture of Harriet having lately been a student at Mrs. Goddard’s school, makes me think Austen is on to something with this continual theme.
Additionally, Emma makes much of education being the difference between the Miss Martins and one who Mr. Martin might marry. I know middle class morality is on the rise in this era and it was all about education being a means to raise one up and lessen their baser instincts.
In short, everyone seems to focus Emma’s class-consciousness, but I think she’s actually rather forward thinking. She does allow for social mobility and in a way that doesn’t become mainstream for several decades. Love or hate the Victorian morality so many good social reforms came out of it. Emma’s comments about Mr. Martin being unworthy of her notice, to me, sound more like she can’t be of use to him and while she might want him to have a bit more education, neither does his station in life “predispose” him to certain vices the era assigned to the poorer ranks.
I’ll admit, I like Emma. And I do feel akin to her. I”m sure plenty would say that I’ve meddled or been to conceited for my own good. And, like Emma, my intellect has always been flattered–except by a few who still respect me and enjoy a healthy debate. I’ve always tended to not care much for the opinion of the world at large, and instead worried about a select few whose good opinion meant the world to me. As Alexa said, Emma feels very real to me.
Oh, two more things. One, I noticed that Mrs. Goddard is the one who opened the way between Harriet and Emma. I hadn’t really noticed that before. Two, for the last few years I’ve been convinced Emma is the Regency era version of Desperate Housewives. She’s bored to death in her confining life in Highbury!
Many of the flaws and virtues either decried or lauded in Emma can also be found in many other Austen characters. For instance, a good hostess who conducts parties that please could be ascribed to Miss Bingley, Mrs. Phillips, or Mrs Bennet, to name three. Emma’s devotion for those in her life who are important to her and whom she loves is one of the many qualities I love about Fanny Price. Emma’s arrogance can be found in Sir William, Darcy, Caroline, Lady Catherine…shall I go on? 🙂 Shall we meddle with a view of having the best in mind for our dear friend who can do better like Lady Russel? Or promote a match like Mrs. Bennet? This is what is awesome about all of Jane Austen’s characters — there are bits of many in us and those around us. We can relate them either by seeing something in ourselves or the people with whom we interact. That is great character development! However, one isolated trait does not make us or someone we know necessarily an Emma….not even two…what makes Emma, Emma is the combination of traits in varying amounts, acted upon based on upbringing and beliefs, combined with situation in life, and her view of herself. Considering all of that, I can say with a fair amount of certainty that I have not been an Emma. Have I meddled where I shouldn’t…quite possibly…to arrange a marriage or break up a couple….most certainly not! Have I ever displayed arrogance? I am human, so yes. Do I feel devotion to my family and friends…without a doubt. Do I plan excellent parties….I try to avoid parties (I did mention a tendency to be Darcy, right?) but when needed, my friends do enjoy themselves at my parties…and the kids at school always liked the parties I oversaw as faculty advisor for student council. However, I am not an Emma….do in large part, I would suspect, to my view of myself (think Fanny Price here…very not Emma in self esteem 🙂 )
Rose, what you said about the governess and education made me think for a moment about the Bennets. Again with my Lydia comparison, I suppose 🙂 But isn’t it interesting here in this story how much emphasis is placed on education of girls (and others, but girls in particular) and in Pride and Prejudice the heroine is “uneducated”?
I have some thoughts on the Emma liking to be useful thing, too, but perhaps I will reserve them for now…or maybe not. Is her usefulness something that feeds her ego? Is it something that she uses to feel superior? Is it something that brings her praise, and therefore delight? Or is it because she cares and would continue to be useful without recognition? I will reserve forming a decided opinion just yet. I will give her time to redeem herself, if she can. 🙂
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