Jane Austen (1775 – 1817): Jane Austen is one of the most well-known and widely-read English novelists.
Jane’s fascination with words and with world of stories began quite early, in the 1780s during her adolescence she started writing her own novels. Between 1811 to 1816, Jane started to anonymously publish her works; Emma was published during this time.
Her works started attracting scholarly attention in the 1920s and came to be recognized as brilliant masterpieces and revealing commentaries on social conditions of Austen’s time.
Emma: This novel is a very lengthy read, with 55 chapters, very intellectually phrased with complex grammatical construction of sentences, which has to be read in short passages for a proper understanding rather than choosing for a hasty read which may cease to lose the novel’s excellence in the reader’s opinion.
It is unadulterated literature that enriches the reader with exceptional knowledge of English literature and in quintessence articulates about the opulent cultural life of people belonging to the upper stratum of society in England during the end of 18th century and at the beginning of 19th century. The humour is polished sarcastic; the novel starts with theatrical appeal with very lengthy conversations and gradually eases to poised narrative.
Highly recommended read for avid literature readers, and once you have finished reading this novel—it will all the more intrigue you for another read.
Twenty-one years old Emma Woodhouse is handsome, clever, and rich; the daughter of Mr. Woodhouse — a nervous old man, beloved for the friendliness of his heart and his amiable temper. The real evils of Emma’s situation is the disposition to think a little too well of herself, which leads her through a course of outright misperception in her impulsive ideas of match-making.
Hartfield, is Emma Woodhouse’s paradise; the residence of Mr. Woodhouse—the Woodhouses first in consequence in a town of Highbury.
There are many characters that exist to make this story about Highbury and Hartfield complete, a few important ones are:
Harriet Smith – A seventeen-year old, a parlour-boarder at Mrs. Goddard’s school, is a girl not certainly clever but with a sweet, docile, grateful disposition; totally free from conceit and only desiring to be guided by any one she looked up to.
Mr. Elton – A very respectable vicar of Highbury, is a handsome young man.
Mr. (Gerorge)Knightley – A sensible man with a cheerful manner, a very old and intimate friend of the family, but particularly connected with it as the elder brother of Isabella’s (Emma’s elder sister) husband. He lived about a mile away in the adjoining parish of Highbury, at Donwell Abbey.
Mr. Weston – A native of Highbury, had satisfied an active, cheerful mind and social temper by entering into militia of his country. Once his wife death, after a three years’ marriage, the widower-father, gave his child up to the care and wealth of the Churchill’s. When a complete change of life became desirable, he quitted the militia and engaged in trade. After eighteen or twenty years of his life, he had purchased a little estate adjoining Highbury, at Randalls; and obtained his second wife– a truly amiable woman, Miss Taylor.
Miss Taylor/ Mrs. Weston: Sixteen years had Miss Taylor been in Mr. Woodhouse’s family, less as a governess than a friend, particularly very fond of Emma, between them it was more the intimacy of sisters. Matrimony as the origin of change, Miss Taylor was happily married to Mr. Weston.
Mr. Frank Churchill: Brought up as his uncle’s heir; Mr. Frank Churchill — a very good looking young man, had a great deal of the spirit and liveliness of his father’s.
Miss Jane Fairfax: The only child of Mrs. Bates’s youngest daughter; Mrs. Bates’s – the widow of a former vicar of Highbury, was a very old lady. Jane was an orphan, brought up by Colonel Campbell. Living constantly with right-minded and well-informed people, her heart and understanding had received every advantage of discipline and culture; and Colonel Campbell’s residence being in London, every lighter talent had been done full justice to, by the attendance of first-rate masters.
Miss Bates: The simplicity and cheerfulness of her nature, her contented and grateful spirit, were a recommendation to every body, and a mine of felicity to herself. She was a great talker upon little matters, full of trivial communications and harmless gossip.
The catalysts of this novel are the characters – Miss Jane Fairfax and Mr. Frank Churchill.
Pages 163, 189, 190 & 191 – Comprises very brilliant descriptive narrative of a shop called ‘Ford’, which is place of convenience to the citizens of Highbury.
Chapter 8: This chapter is a debate over the mind-set related to men and women on the subject of suitability of partner associated with social norms in the prospect of matrimony, these considerations do prevail in the present era in consequence to arranged marriages in some cultures.
A few passages from this novel:
“ A man,” sad he, “must have a very good opinion of himself when he asks people to leave their own fireside, and encounter such a day as this, for the sake of coming to see him. He must think himself a most agreeable fellow; I could not do such a thing. It is the greatest absurdity —Actually snowing at this moment!—The folly of not allowing people to be comfortable at home—and the folly of people’s not staying comfortably at home when they can! If we were obliged to go out such an evening as this, by any call of duty or business, what a hardship we should deem it;—and here are we, probably with rather thinner clothing than usual, setting forward voluntarily, without excuse, in defiance of the voice of nature, which tells man, in every thing given to his view or his feeling, to stay at home himself, and keep all under shelter that he can;—here are we setting forward to spend five dull hours in another man’s house, with nothing to say or to hear that was not said and heard yesterday, and may not be said and heard again to-morrow. Going in dismal weather, to return probably in worse;—four horses and four servants taken out for nothing but to convey five idle, shivering creatures into colder rooms and worse company than they might have had at home.” (p. 95)
“But your father is not going so far; he is only going to the Crown, quite on the other side of the street, and there are a great many houses; you might be very much at a loss, and it is very dirty walk, unless you keep on the footpath; but my coachman can tell you where you had best cross the street.”
Mr. Frank Churchill still declined it, looking as serious as he could and his father gave his hearty support by calling out, “My good friend, this is quite unnecessary; Frank knows a puddle of water when he sees it, and as to Mrs. Bates’s, he may get there from the Crown in a hop, step, and jump.”(p. 159)
“If it would be good to her, I am sure it would be evil to himself; a very shameful and degrading connexion. How would he bear to have Miss Bates belonging to him?—To have her haunting the Abbey, and thanking him all day long for his great kindness in marrying Jane?—
“So very kind and obliging!—But he always had been such a very kind neighbour!”And then fly off, through half a sentence, to her mother’s old petticoat. “Not that it was such a very old petticoat either—for still it would last a great while—and, indeed, she must thankfully say that their petticoats were all very strong.”(p. 183)
When the ladies returned to the drawing-room after dinner, Emma found it hardly possible to prevent their making two distinct parties;—with so much perseverance in judging and behaving ill did Mrs. Elton engross Jane Fairfax and slight herself. She and Mrs. Weston were obliged to be almost always either talking together or silent together. Mrs. Elton left them no choice. If Jane repressed her for a little time, she soon began again; and though much that passed between them was in a half-whisper, especially on Mrs. Elton’s side, there was no avoiding a knowledge of their principal subjects: The post-office—catching cold—fetching letters—and friendship, were long under discussion … (p. 243)
“I cannot make speeches, Emma:” he soon resumed; and in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably convincing.—“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am.—You hear nothing but truth from me.—I have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have borne it. —Bear with the truths I would tell you now, dearest Emma, as well as you have borne with them. The manner, perhaps, may have as little to recommend them. God knows, I have been a very indifferent lover.— But you understand me …. (p. 348)