My Jane Austen Odyssey: Emma

(this is part of a series; read about MP, Persuasion, NA, and S&S)

Emma has been a long-time favorite of mine. I think it is as charming and funny as Emma herself, and Mr. Knightly is perfection.

A different aspect of the book that struck me this time was Mr. Woodhouse’s trauma. I mean, I get that he is a sort of ridiculous though well-respected and gentelmanly old man, but his obsession with health (as absurd and hilarious as it is), clearly stems from the loss of his wife (and it seems to have affected his older daughter too in that way). I found with this read through that I pitied him more for it, and it also made Emma that much more loveable to me.

Even though Emma is a snob and a little spoiled, she has so many Save the Cat moments, I can’t help but admire her as much as everyone else in the book does. She’s learning how to use her power–which is considerable, given her wealth, social status, beauty and intelligence–and how to use it to be kind to people. She isn’t self-seeking. I think her main fault is youthful foolishness in many ways.

The age difference between Knightly and Emma is sort of creepy by today’s standards, but I think it makes sense for the times–it takes a guy til his 30s to get established and women had babies younger so that they were less likely to die in childbirth (makes sense to me!).

I feel like this book lends itself well to movie adaptations, and I’ve seen a few that I liked, but none so well as the 2020 Emma, with all its bright color and humor. It perfectly captures the tone of the book, and seeing Emma tenderly care for her half-crazy dad and all of her nieces and nephews, it is no wonder Knightly fell for her .


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