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less sweet than advertised

So Emma -- kind of a snob. There's a famous line about Emma (the book... well, and the girl, actually) that Jane Austen wrote, "I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like." And I'd always wondered why Austen thought that way (Emma was silly but sweet, how could anyone dislike her?), but now I get it. I still do like her, but she is terrible about Mr. Martin. It's not even her wanting Harriet to 'do better', but the way she describes the poor guy -- pretty nasty.

What keeps me from hating her (or even disliking her) is that I know this is something Emma is going to have to learn and change from. Mr. Knightley is totally in the right and we have his opinion really early on to clue us into the fact that Emma is in the wrong here and the author knows it. We even have some delicious hints that Emma herself may realize it deep down, though she's fighting it. (Actually, I really do adore the way Austen tells a story. It's a removed point of view, but she swoops into the feelings and reactions of the characters with such knowledge that we feel like we know more about the characters than maybe they even know about themselves. So there's also this wonderful sense of intimacy.) And Emma is primed for some growing. She's at exactly the state of youthful certainty (I know everything!) that presages the painful moment of truth that leads into much less certain adulthood.

I've read through Emma learning the horrible truth about Mr. Elton which was both sad and hilarious (and I wish I'd had a chance to read the book before knowing the story because when would I have realized how badly Emma was interpreting things?). And I know there's still more to go because Frank Churchill hasn't even arrived yet... What fun that will be! :D


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 3rd, 2012 02:48 am (UTC)
Yeah, I could see why someone would be annoyed by Emma, but I always liked her anyway!
Feb. 3rd, 2012 10:20 pm (UTC)
I think Austen did a great job at balancing Emma's bad behavior with her more redeeming qualities. And when she realizes she's wrong she feels real pangs of regret and guilt. Emma really isn't a bad person! ;D I'm up to the part where Mr. Elton is about to return with his new bride and Emma is fully aware that all of Harriet's suffering is because of Emma's manipulations. I appreciate her seeing that she did badly and vowing not to do it again and such.

On a completely different note, I have to say, it's really interesting reading the book for the first time but also being really familiar with the story. It's almost like giving it a second read. All of Frank Churchill's actions are so clear to me (he is incredibly clever at manipulating others -- giving Emma a taste of her own medicine, I suppose?) and it's great fun to read with the knowledge I have. :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )