Emma

by Jane Austen

“Emma has been meaning to read more ever since she was twelve years old. I have seen a great many lists of her drawing up at various times of books that she meant to read regularly through—and very good lists they were—very well chosen, and very neatly arranged—sometimes alphabetically, and sometimes by some other rule. The list she drew up when only fourteen—I remember thinking it did her judgment so much credit, that I preserved it some time; and I dare say she may have made out a very good list now. But I have done with expecting any course of steady reading from Emma. She will never submit to any thing requiring industry and patience, and a subjection of the fancy to the understanding.”

–Mr. Knightly to Mrs. Weston about their friend, Emma–

I have seen the 4 film/BBC versions of Emma probably dozens of times between them all, not including the wonderful Clueless. So I thought I knew the plot of Jane Austen’s novel backward and forwards. And I did! However, the main thing the movies don’t convey is how unlikable Emma is throughout almost all of the book. I think the actresses who have played her, with the exception of one, just have so much charm that I could not help but overlook Emma’s faults and be captivated. Her character flaws become amusing little foibles in the movies that you smile at fondly. As Jane Austen wrote her though, she is judgmental, lazy, arrogant, and small-minded. She is foolish and even mean at times. I shudder to think what might have become of Harriet if Mr. Martin had not been so faithful and forgiving. And although she does learn her lesson and is suitably chastened, her character does not exactly experience a complete transformation. I could easily have seen her going back to her old ways if not for the continuing good influence of Mr. Knightly, who unaccountably really loves her from the beginning despite her faults.

I really enjoyed all of the extra detail and the characterizations of all of the players. The reader, Alison Larkin, was excellent. Particularly making Emma so initially unsympathetic, and then maturing her in the end. She made Mrs. Elton and Mr. Woodhouse so annoying but so funny, and her reading of Miss Bates was a scream: just as classic as Sophie Thompson’s portrayal in Gwyneth Paltrow’s Emma.**4 out of 5 stars**

Rating: 4 out of 5.

July 13, 2018

10 thoughts on “Emma

  1. By now these are my dear old friends. I especially loved this moment after she had returned from Miss Bates…..the unspoken communication, something had changed. I particularly love the way she says “won’t you come too”? Nicely done, Emma!! 🙂

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    • Boy am I loving this production. I’m not sure I understand the John Knightley character though. Maybe meant to demonstrate the second son mindset? He seems testy and not so testy. I wonder if you have seen this? I can’t begin to imagine what it must take. Honestly, I think it might take less talent to write it than to score it.

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      • I’ve seen it many times. John Knightly is a good man, but he has a temper and is often impatient. He speaks his mind. Don’t forget he has 5 children. And Isabella is a worrier like her father.

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      • Thanks…..I’m in awe of musicians, and the creative process, having had exactly one piano lesson wherein I discovered that my hands couldn’t possibly move independently of one another! I was wondering if John was following his character in the book or if it was an acting choice. Lucy’s book(think FABULOUS!!) states that “between 1750 and 1799 a woman bore on average an astonishing seven children not counting miscarriages or stillbirths”. I’m gonna go out on a limb and call that tacky, besides being heartbreakingly dangerous.

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  2. This has to be my favorite adaptation without even bothering to watch the others! 😉 I do love it. “Won’t you come too”? I love the way she says that. All that’s left now is Mansfield Park. I read reviews and I’m leaning toward 1999 because I see familiar faces. What do you say? I’m getting ready to watch it now. I have bought 3 DVDs and 5 books……the Treasury Dept. posted a plaque naming you motivator of the year. Oh, and what about “The Jane Austen Book Club”? I just ran into it and it looks promising.

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      • I just watched the last 20 minutes of the 1999 one and that might be sufficient. Looked like a pretty good production. I was very surprised(to put it mildly) to find out that Jonny Lee Miller was married around that time to Angelina Jolie; drove her into the arms of Billy Bob. 😉

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