Emma is a romance written by Jane Austen and published in 1815. Emma comes from a wealthy family and considers herself a matchmaker. Unfortunately, she doesn’t understand people and makes mistakes. But, the story ends up with a happy ending for all the couples.
Jane Austen dedicated the book to the Prince Regent, even though she didn’t like him because his representative asked her to. She decided to write a book with an anti-heroine, who she suspected she would be the only person who liked her. Austen introduces Emma as handsome, clever and rich, unlike most of the characters in other books set in the period. Emma doesn’t plan to marry, which also doesn’t fit the heroine in the books of the time.
The women in the book are written as amiable, and the men cover a wide range of characterizations, most with vast faults. Her father is a hypochondriac, Frank is a bit of a cad, Mr. Weston can’t keep a secret, Mr. Elton is an opportunist and even Mr. Knightley who comes across as judgmental.
By the end of the book, the women have filled out the spaces missing in the men. Frank marries Jane Fairfax who is kind, accomplished and classy. Her even temperament settles his flighty manners. Mrs. Weston gives Mr. Weston a child who ends his life even more. Mr. Elton marries Mrs. Elton who is as much an opportunist as he is. And, when Emma marries Mr. Knightley she brings out his kinder, gentler side.
Emma opens with a description of the main character; Emma Woodhouse. She is pretty, smart, popular and comfortably wealthy. But, she is also a bit flighty, controlling, spoiled and bores easily.
Emma is raised by an indulgent father and a lenient governess, Miss Taylor. When her older sister, Isabella marries their neighbor, John Knightly and moves to London, Emma is left as the mistress of the house from the age of fifteen. She is now twenty-one and Miss Taylor, no longer her governess continues to live with them as companion and friend.
At the beginning of the story Emma and her father are bemoaning the loss of Miss Taylor to marriage. She is now Mrs. Weston. Although Mr. Weston is a kind man, they both miss having ready access to Miss Taylor.
Emma’s father is well loved in their community of Highbury and is a caring father and friend. He did not become a father until late in life, so he is a great deal older than Emma and is a “valetudinarian” or hypochondriac. So, any change in his life or disruption in his routine makes him ill. Emma spends most of the evening of Mr. and Mrs. Weston’s wedding day, calming her father’s complaints while she secretly sees the many days of boredom stretching out in front of her.
Tonight’s boredom is relieved with the visit of their neighbor Mr. George Knightly, brother to John Knightly. He missed the wedding because he was in London visiting with his brother and Emma’s sister.
Mr. Knightly agrees that the marriage is a good match, but gently admonishes Emma for taking credit for the match. If all she did were think to herself it would be a good match and then take credit when it happened, where is the work involved? Emma replies that three years ago she knew he was interested in Miss Taylor when he ran to get her an umbrella to protect them from a misty rain. Since then, she found little ways to remove obstacles in their path. Her next plan at matchmaking is for Mr. Elton, the young, unmarried vicar.
Chapter two begins with a recounting of Mr. Weston’s back story. When he was young he married a Miss Churchill from a wealthy and high-class family. The marriage was rocky from the start because although his rank in the Army was romantic to her, she still wanted to keep living in the style she was accustomed to. Unfortunately, this drove him to a great deal of debt. Soon they had a son, Frank and she did not live long after the birth.
Mr. Weston was left with a great deal of debt and a newborn son. Her family offered to care for him while Mr. Weston was away with the military. Since he spent so little time with the boy, the Churchill’s wanted to adopt Frank and make him their heir. Mr. Weston agreed because it was a generous offer that would benefit his son. He visited him as often as she could.
After spending about twenty years rebuilding his fortune, Weston was finally able to retire and purchase a home in the country. With this came the desire for a wife. He had had Miss Taylor in his sights for awhile, but after purchasing Randall’s he was finally able to set up housekeeping. Mr. Weston “was beginning a new period of existence with every probability of greater happiness than in any yet passed through.”
Now that Mr. and Mrs. Weston is settled, the whole town eagerly awaits the visit of their prodigal son. Everyone is anxious for Frank Churchill’s appearance. Especially after he writes a nice letter congratulating them on their marriage and saying he will visit them soon to meet his new stepmother.
One way Emma has decided to break up the monotony is to throw a dinner party. The numbers must remain small or her father will be anxious, so she invites his friends Mrs. Bates and her single, older daughter, and Mrs. Goddard. Mrs. Goddard runs the local boarding school and asks to bring her boarder, Miss Harriet Smith. Although of unknown parentage, Miss Smith is beautiful and has a sweet temperament. Her almost worshipful feelings toward Emma feeds her ego and makes her decide to help Miss Smith into a higher society. She wants to take her under her wing and then help her find a husband. Emma’s first step is to distance Harriet from the Martin’s, a family of farmers with a son that she feels may be getting too close to Harriet. Emma wants her for Mr. Elton, the vicar. She thinks he is a higher class and therefore perfect for her protege.
While Mr. Knightly and Mrs. Weston are visiting one afternoon, their conversation drifts over to Emma and Harriet’s new relationship. Mr. Knightly is worried because he thinks Harriet’s worship of Emma will feed her ego too much. He also feels their friendship might be harmful to Harriet. He is concerned it will make her reach too far above her own station and therefore make happiness out of her reach. She will then have trouble fitting into her own social stratum afterward.
Mrs. Weston does not agree with this assessment. She thinks the relationship can only benefit Harriet because Emma has such a good heart. The two of them also discuss Emma’s declaration that she will never marry. Mr. Knightly would like her to fall for someone who doesn’t return her favor, so she can be humbled, but Mrs. Weston wants her to wait until she meets a good prospect. She and Mr. Weston are secretly hoping she and Frank will form a match.
Emma and Harriet are visiting one afternoon. Emma is still pointing out Mr. Elton’s good qualities as an attempt at getting Harriet to favor him. She comes up with the idea to paint Harriet so Mr. Eliot can see all her beauty. Everyone has different opinions when the painting is revealed. Mr. Knightly and Mrs. Weston both think Emma exaggerated Harriet’s beauty, and her father thinks that Harriet looks too cold, but Mr. Eliot thinks it is a work of the best art. He offers to take it to London to have it framed. Emma assures Harriet that is an act of true love, even though his comments were actually on the skill of the artist, not the beauty of the subject.
Emma begins to worry when Harriet receives a letter of proposal from Mr. Martin. Emma manipulates Harriet into turning the proposal down. She subtly brings up the lower class of Mr. Martin and that Harriet’s marriage to him would take her out of Emma’s sphere. But actually, Emma wants to control Harriet. Emma helps Harriet compose the letter of refusal to Mr. Martin and cheers her by telling her that Mr. Eliot is probably showing her painting to his mother at this time.
This prompts Mr. Knightly and Emma into an argument. He has already been informed of Mr. Martin’s intention and thought it a good one. But, when he finds out Emma might have had a hand in preventing the match, he is furious. He tells Emma that if she thinks she will make a match between Harriet and Mr. Elton she is very mistaken. He knows Mr. Elton will choose from a wealthy family. He would definitely not choose a wife who has unknown parentage and hardly any wealth no matter how pretty she is. The two part in anger.
Emma and Harriet are working on a book of riddles. Mr. Elton contributes a riddle that obviously discusses plans for marriage. But, Emma translates it to mean Harriet. Elton is happy Emma kept the riddle but a little confused at her reaction.
After paying a charitable visit with a poor family, Emma and Harriet meet Mr. Elton on the road. Emma tries to make opportunities for Mr. Elton and Harriet to be alone so he can propose. When he still doesn’t Emma just attributes it to his shyness. She still thinks he is in love with Harriet.
Christmas is coming. Emma’s sister, Isabella and her husband, John Knightly arrive at Harfield with their children. Isabella and her father slip into their customary commiserations with each other’s supposed illnesses. This causes John to be a bit stern because his personality looks through the nonsense and sees the reality of situations. He is also quick to state his opinions.
When Mr. George Knightly comes for dinner, he and Emma make up, even though they still don’t agree about Harriet. Isabella wants to know the gossip about town and learns that Miss Jane Fairfax, the niece of Miss Bates, is due to visit. She thinks Jane would be a good companion for Emma.
The Westons’ throw a Christmas Eve dinner party. Emma and her father, Isabella and John, George Knightly, Harriet and Mr. Elton are all invited. But, Harriet comes down with a sore throat and can’t attend. Emma is at first glad to see Mr. Elton’s solicitous behavior to Harriet but then is surprised to hear that he plans to attend the party even though Harriet can’t attend. Observing the exchange, John Knightly tells Emma that he thinks Mr. Elton has designs on her. But, she scoffs at the idea.
When they enter the party, Emma decides to not think about Mr. Elton’s strange behavior. He seems quite happy to be at the party and doesn’t miss Harriet at all. Also, his attentions to her seem to make John Knightley’s suggestion possible. Meanwhile, Emma is attending a conversation with Mrs. Weston. She tells Emma that they expect Frank Churchill’s visit soon. Emma has a thought about him as a suitor, but still plans to remain single. Mrs. Weston admits to feeling nervous about meeting her stepson but also wonders if the Churchill’s will allow him to visit. Emma wonders about a young man being ruled by his guardians so strongly.
Snow starts, and the group makes plans to leave after George Knightly assures everyone the roads are fine. But, with the confusion in getting in the carriages, Emma ends up alone with Mr. Elton. He has had a few too many drinks and gathers the courage to declare his love to Emma and propose. She is shocked and tells him that she thought he was in love with Harriet. He replies that he thought Emma knew how he felt and led him on. Emma refuses his proposal sharply and the two continue the trip in silent anger.
Later Emma reflects on the night’s revelations. She feels guilty for encouraging Harriet to consider Mr. Eliot and admonishes herself for not seeing his intentions. Although, she knows his true intentions were for her money, not for love of her. Emma vows to give up on making matches, but in the same breath goes thinks about who to fix Harriet up with now.
John and Isabella return home with their children. And Mr. Woodhouse receives a letter from Mr. Elton saying that he has left to spend a few weeks in Bath. Emma tells Harriet about what happened with Mr. Elton. Harriet takes it so well and doesn’t blame Emma, that Emma thinks Harriet is far superior to herself. Emma devotes herself to cheering Harriet up and preparing her for Mr. Elton’s return.
Meanwhile, the expected visit from Frank Churchill is delayed. Mr. Knightley remarks that he can’t understand why a twenty-four-year-old man can’t come visit his father at will, but Emma argues that since the young man is dependent on his aunt he must go at her sufferance. Emma goes on to say she is sure that when he does visit he will be perfectly charming, but Mr. Knightley thinks he will be insufferable. His venom against a stranger surprises Emma. Colonel and Mrs. Campbell were planning a visit to their daughter who was newly married to a Mr. Dixon. The couple is in Ireland, and Jane will be coming to stay with her aunt and grandmother in Highbury while they are away. Because Jane did not accompany the couple on their honeymoon, Emma turns her romantic mind to an idea that Mr. Dixon had feelings for Jane before his marriage.
Emma doesn’t actually like Jane. She feels that Jane is hard to get close to, but actually, Jane doesn’t bow to Emma as most people do. Also, Jane is very accomplished and makes Emma feel inferior because she doesn’t stay with any project long enough to become proficient. Jane is Emma’s age. She lost her father to the war and her mother to consumption when she was three years old. She had lived with the Bates until she was eight years old, but when Colonel Campbell, a war buddy of her father’s, asked if she could stay with them and be a friend to their daughter who was her age, the Bates’ agreed. Colonel Campbell took responsibility for her education and upbringing. He could not give her an inheritance but he provided education so she could someday become a governess. Jane is hoping to get a break at Highbury before starting her profession.
When Jane does arrive, Emma confirms her dislike for the girl. Mr. Knightley thinks she is jealous, but Emma thinks Jane is cold, especially when she learns that Jane met Frank Churchill in Weymouth, but won’t tell anything about the man.
Knightley arrives at Hartfield with some gossip for Emma. But, before he can tell her, the Bateses arrive and beats him to the gossip. The talkative Miss Bates lets slip that Mr. Elton is engaged to marry Miss Hawkins. Emma tries to cover her surprise by trying to engage Jane in conversation.
Emma is considering how to break the news to Harriet after everyone leaves when Harriet bursts into the room. She is excited to say that she saw John Martin and his sister in town. They were cordial to her. Emma thinks better of them for their behavior but still thinks Harriet deserves better. Finally she tells Harriet about Mr. Eliot’s impending marriage just to get her to stop talking about the Martin’s.
When John Martin’s sister pays a visit to Harriet at Mrs. Goddard’s she asks Emma’s advice about returning the call. Emma suggests the return visit happen but be short. She takes her there and picks her up fifteen minutes later. Harriet says that she had a nice visit when Emma picks her up, but she knows the Martin’s felt the slight at the visit being so short.
Emma learns from Mrs. Weston that the long awaited visit from Frank will be soon and is surprised when the next day she meets him when he comes to Hartfield with his father. She thinks he is handsome and charming. She can also sense that Weston’s hope for a match between her and Frank. He leaves with his father hoping to pay a visit to the Bates and say hello to Jane, who he met at Weymouth. He makes it seem like a passing acquaintance and of little interest.
The next day, Frank and Mrs. Weston visit. Emma takes a walk with them and is gratified at Frank’s warmth to Mrs. Weston. They notice a building that Frank thinks would make an excellent hall for a ball.
Emma asks Frank about his visit to the Bates’ and what he thought of Jane. He replies that he found Jane to be reserved and not very pretty. But, he does think she is talented as a musician. He says that he saw her play in Weymouth and they spent a lot of time in each others company there. When she shares her suspicions about Mr. Dixon’s feelings for Jane. He doesn’t agree but doesn’t discount it, either. After their time together, Emma starts to have warm feelings for Frank. But, when he takes a one day visit to London to get his hair cut, she starts to wonder at his actions. Although she still doesn’t intend to marry, she is fine with people linking the two of them together in their gossip. Mr. Knightley still thinks Frank is foppish and silly.
A family of tradesmen who had become wealthy lives in a mansion in Highbury. They are very nice, but Emma doesn’t feel they are in her social realm because they were new money. When they plan a large dinner party, Emma plans to turn down her invitation. But, when her invitation doesn’t arrive she begins to feel left out. Finally, an invitation for her and her father arrives. The Coles’ had been settling things for her father’s comfort. So, Emma accepts the invitation. As she arrives, Emma is pleased to see Mr. Knightley arrive in a carriage. He usually walks, but she thinks the carriage makes him seem more of a gentleman. During the dinner conversation
Emma learns about a mysterious gift for Jane Fairfax, a pianoforte. Emma secretly tells Frank she suspects the gift is from Mr. Dixon. Especially when Jane arrives later and blushes at the mention of it.
Emma learns from Mrs. Weston that Mr. Knightley brought his carriage so he could give Jane a ride home after the party. When Mrs. Weston reveals that she sees a match between Mr. Knightley and Jane, Emma venomously denies it. Her excuse his that Mr. Knightley must never marry so the Knightley home, Donwell Abbey, will go to their oldest nephew, Henry. Mrs. Weston adds that she suspects the mysterious pianoforte was from Mr. Knightley.
For entertainment, Jane and Emma are asked to play and sing. Then after Emma sits down, Frank sings with Jane and asks for another song even when her voice starts to falter. Mr. Knightley steps in to stop them, adding to Mrs. Weston’s belief. When the dancing begins, Emma is glad to see Mr. Knightley not ask Jane to dance. Then she is further pleased when Frank asks her to dance. The night is only long enough for two dances so Frank tells Emma that he is glad the dance time was so short because he would have been forced to with Jane, “her languid dancing would not have agreed with me, after your’s.”
After a pleasant evening at the Cole’s Emma and Harriet meet Mrs. Weston and Frank the next day while walking. Emma and Harriet are shopping, but Mrs. Weston and Frank are heading to the Bates. Frank offers to stay with Emma, but she sends him off with Mrs. Weston. Soon Miss Bates shows up and asks Emma and Harriet to see Jane’s new pianoforte. Emma learns from Miss Bates that Mr. Knightley gave Jane the last of his summer apples because she liked them. When they arrive, they find Frank working on Mrs. Bates glasses and Jane at the piano. Soon Mr. Knightley rides by and stops but refuses to come up when he hears that Frank is there.
Days later Emma and her father are visiting the Randalls while they discuss Frank’s desire for a ball. He offers to get Miss Bates and “her niece” so they can give their opinions. Then he tells Emma he wants the first two dances with her. But, before the ball can happen, Frank is called back home by his aunt. The ball is postponed. Emma thinks she might be a little in love with Frank since she seems to miss him. But, she knows that if he proposed she would say no. After his letter arrives at Mrs. Weston in which he mentions Harriet, she wonders if she could match him up with Harriet. But, she remembers her vow to stop matchmaking.
Mr. Elton and his new wife return to Highbury. Harriet is still nursing a broken heart but agrees to make it easier on Emma by not mentioning it. The two plan on visiting the newlyweds early to establish normal social relations. When the couple returns the visit by coming to Hartfield, Emma takes the time to judge Mrs. Elton. She finds her to be pretentious and superficial. Her position of bride makes her the first in social situations. They must make allowances for her.
But, Mrs. Elton returns Emma’s feelings of dislike and Emma assumes that Mr. Elton told Mrs. Elton about the circumstances with Harriet because they are especially mean to Harriet. Mrs. Elton decides that Jane is her project. She plans on helping Jane find a good place to become a governess, and she wants to bring Jane out into Highburn socially.
Jane’s actions surprise Emma. She turns down an invitation to accompany the Campbells to Ireland where the Dixons are and she accepts the attentions of the irritation Mrs. Elton. Mr. Knightley defends Jane’s actions. This leads Emma to ask if he has feelings for Jane to which he tells her he is not interested in marrying Jane, “Jane Fairfax is a very charming young woman—but not even Jane Fairfax is perfect. She has a fault. She has not the open temper which a man would wish for in a wife.”
Emma has a dinner party for Mrs. Elton as a social responsibility. Harriet asks to be excused so Emma asks Jane to fill the empty place. When Mr. Weston can’t attend the place is filled with John Knightley who brings his two sons to visit with Emma. At the party, he admonishes Jane for going in the rain to the post office and this brings Mrs. Elton forward who insists she allow her servant to pick it up. But, Jane is unusually insistent on getting her own mail. Mr. Weston arrives with a letter from his son.
The Churchill’s will be making an extended visit in London so he will be able to visit Highbury more often. John Knightley asks if his sons will be in the way since Emma has become so social. George suggests they stay with him and is amused when she asserts that he is just as social as she is and she will always have time for her nephews.
Mrs. Churchill decides to move them even closer to Highbury so Frank can visit more often. The plans for the ball resume. When Emma meets Frank again, she is glad to see that his feelings for her have dropped into friendship as hers has for him.
At the ball Emma and Frank meet as friends and when Jane arrives he rushes out to assist her and her aunt. He tells Emma that he doesn’t like Mrs. Elton’s condescending attitude with Jane. Mrs. Elton expects to open the ball, and they regretfully tell Emma. But, she relieves them and enjoys the ball. The only hiccup is when all the dancers are engaged except for Mr. Elton and Harriet. He slights her by refusing to dance with her. But, Mr. Knightley asks her to dance. His kindness pleases Emma because she knows he doesn’t like to dance.
The next morning while Emma is enjoying memories of the ball, Frank arrives at her door with a fainting Harriet. She and her friend had had a run in with some Gypsies. Frank arrived and chased them away. Emma sees this as romantic and Mr. Woodhouse sees it a danger. When Harriet tells Emma that her feelings for Mr. Elton has passed and she now has feelings for another man
Emma thinks she means Frank. Especially when Harriet says the man she loves is of a higher social rank. Emma tells her not to tell her the name, but not to devalue herself either. “More wonderful things have taken place.”
Frank drops hints here and there about his relationship with Jane, but no one sees them. The only person who doesn’t miss some of them is Mr. Knightley. Emma has inside jokes with Frank that irritate Mr. Knightley.
Mrs. Elton wants to plan an outdoor party at Box Hill, but when Mr. Knightley jokingly suggests Donwell Abbey, she jumps at it, even though Mr. Knightley insists on doing all the planning himself. Mr. Knightley sets up a place indoors for Mr. Woodhouse to enjoy a nice seat by the fire and a special menu with his likes in mind. Mrs. Weston spent the afternoon inside with him due to her delicate condition, or pregnancy.
Emma walks about checking out the Abbey and noticing what everyone is doing. Mrs. Elton is discussing a job she has found with Jane and Mr. Knightley and Harriet is taking a walk. Emma comforts Mrs. Weston who is worried about Frank’s delay in arriving. When Jane asks Emma to cover for her so she can go, Emma feels sympathy for her and agrees to tell people she had to leave early. When Frank finally arrives, he is grumpy and Emma teases him into a better mood and feeds him. Then he agrees to accompany the group the next day to Box Hill.
The Box Hill party does not go well. Mr. and Mrs. Elton are snappy and snobby. Mr. Knightley spends his time with Miss Bates and Jane, while Emma spends most of her time with Harriet and Frank. At first, Frank is grumpy, but he becomes overly bright when he hears Mrs. Elton talking to Jane again about a job. He flirts with Emma outrageously. She knows he is kidding, but others don’t. He starts word and riddle games that don’t go over well. Emma unintentionally hurts Miss Bates’ feelings and is reprimanded by Mr. Knightley. She leaves before she can apologize.
The next day Emma visits Miss Bates to apologize. But, Miss Bates’ natural humility makes Emma feel even more guilty. Jane claims a headache and refuses to leave her room. Emma learns that Jane has decided to accept the governess position Mrs. Elton nagged her about. Jane is due to leave in two weeks and Frank has already left for his aunt’s house.
When Emma arrives back home she finds Mr. Knightley and Harriet visiting with her father. Mr. Knightley is proud of her for visiting Miss Bates with intentions to apologize. He almost kisses her hand before he leaves to visit his brother in London.
Meanwhile, Emma keeps trying to help Jane and is continuously rebuffed. News arrives that Mrs. Churchill has died, so Emma thinks Harriet may have a chance at Frank. One afternoon Mr. Weston arrives and is agitated. He takes her to see Mrs. Weston who has news for her. Mrs. Weston tells her that Frank is engaged to Jane. They are concerned that Emma’s heart is broken. But, even when she does assure them her heart isn’t broken, she still admonishes him for flirting with her when he was engaged. This explains why Jane has tried to avoid her.
Once again Emma has to break Harriet’s heart. Emma plans to tell her about Frank and is surprised when Harriet excitedly tells her. Emma learns that Harriet wasn’t in love with Frank but with Mr. Knightley. Emma had given her hope by telling her stranger things had happened.
But, to Emma’s surprise, she discovers she is in love with Mr. Knightley herself. Unfortunately, she thinks he doesn’t return her feelings and may still be angry at her treatment of Miss Bates. Also, if he does return her feelings she can’t marry him, her father needs her.
While Emma is walking in the garden and thinking about Mr. Knightley, he arrives. He wants to talk to her. But she stops him by bringing up the engagement of Frank and Jane. He says that he already knew but asks how she is. She assures him that although she thinks Frank behaved badly she is not heartbroken. Emma is afraid Mr. Knightley will tell her of his feelings for Harriet, but she finally relents and lets him talk. He tells her that he loves her and she returns his feelings. Before they go inside the couple are engaged.
Emma worries how to tell her father and Harriet. She writes a letter to Harriet and then arranges Harriet to stay with Isabella in London so she can see a dentist. Mrs. Weston brings a letter from Frank so Emma can read it. In it he says that he knew that Emma didn’t actually love him and that he suspected she knew about him and Jane. But, when he found the breakup letter from Jane saying that she would take the governess job, he asked his uncle, and he agreed to sanction the marriage.
When Emma shows the letter to Mr. Knightley he isn’t as forgiving as she is and still thinks Frank was unscrupulous. He agrees that Emma can’t leave her father and suggests he move into Hartfield. She is very happy but is also saddened knowing what a wedge this will put between her and Harriet. But, Emma and Jane become closer since they are both so happy with their engagements.
Emma waits until after Mrs. Weston’s baby is born to tell her father about her and Mr. Knightley’s engagement. He slowly resigns himself to their upcoming marriage. Especially after Mrs. Weston tells him what a good idea it is. The only people who aren’t happy with the match is the Elton.
Harriet is engaged to Robert Martin, finally. Mr. Knightley sent him to London to deliver a package to his brother and reconnected with Harriet. They are the first to marry. Then after Mrs. Weston’s poultry-house is robbed, Mr. Woodhouse is eager to have Mr. Knightley move into Hartfield. So he and Emma marry. The book ends with snide remarks from Mrs. Elton that the wedding did not have enough lace and white satin. But, all the “true friends” saw the “perfect happiness of the union.”
Emma Woodhouse – The main character of the book. She is young and headstrong but is also warm and loving. Emma is a very pretty twenty-year-old from a wealthy family. She tends to her widowed father and acts as mistress of his house. Emma has gone through a variety of hobbies but stops before she can master any of them. She has intentions of reading great books, makes lists and then never reads the books. She makes friends with people who give her first place in their lives. Harriet almost worships her, Mrs. Weston praises her all the time, and so does her doting father. The only person who tells her the truth is Mr. Knightley. Emma thinks she is a matchmaker. She gives herself the credit for Miss Taylor becoming Mrs. Weston, so she plans to find a match for Harriet Smith. By the end of the book, Emma has grown up and realized a great many of her preconceived ideas were wrong.
Mr. George Knightley – Emma calls him Mr. Knightley. They are neighbors and grew up together. Since he was fourteen when she was born, he has always thought he should teach Emma how to behave. His younger brother, John is married to Emma’s older sister, Isabella. Mr. Knightley is the owner of Donwell Abbey. A large farm that he rents parts off to the Martins. When John Martin comes to ask his advice, Mr. Knightley tells him to ask for Harriet’s hand in marriage. Mr. Knightley is smart and even tempered. He is Jane Austen’s idea of the perfect gentleman.
Mr. Woodhouse – Emma’s father. He is a hypochondriac and rarely leaves his home. But he is still popular and well loved in the community. Mr. Woodhouse hates change. Even the nice change of marriage. When Emma is old enough to not need a governess any longer, he asks her to stay and does not like the change when she marries and finally leaves. Years have passed and he still hasn’t come to terms with his oldest daughter’s marriage. His conversations mostly revolve around his health and the health around others. Although he isn’t intellectually able to carry on conversations with Emma, she indulges him and puts his entertainment and comfort at the top of her priorities.
Harriet Smith – Harriet lives at the boarding school she attended. When Emma meets her they become fast friends. She is a very pretty seventeen-year-old girl, and Emma wants to help her move up in the world. Although they don’t know who her parents are, Emma decides she comes from an aristocratic family so she wants to help her find a good match. She wants her to marry the vicar, Mr. Elton, but when that falls through, she plans on her marrying Frank Churchill. But, Harriet aims her sights for Mr. Knightley. When that falls through, too, Harriet meets up with her first love, John Martin, and marries him.
Jane Fairfax – Pretty, highly accomplished but reserved. She is destined to become a governess but is saved from that when she marries Frank Churchill.
Frank Churchill – Handsome, rich but shallow.
Jane Austen Biography
Born 16 December 1775 in Hampshire, England. She died 18 July 1817 at the age of 41. In her life, she wrote 6 novels that are the most widely read in English literature. Her books are considered romantic fiction. Her irony and wit bring the stories of Regency England to life. Although popular now, her books were originally published anonymously. During the years between 1811 and 1816, she published four novels and began to gain some notoriety.
As the youngest daughter in a large family, she received some of her education from her father, a minister who ran a boy’s school, and her older brothers. But, the vast majority of her education came from books. She was a voracious reader. During her childhood, she, her brothers and sister, Cassandra spent their evenings entertaining their parents and neighbors. They put on plays, played music and read stories.
Jane was not the only writer in her family, but, the only one to take the time to pursue it. It was her brother, Henry and her father who pushed her to publish and even paid for the first publications. Henry became her agent, and her whole family was helpful in her writing career.
After she died, her brother, Henry, and sister, Cassandra had her last two books published, “Persuasion” and “Northanger Abbey”. For the first time, her name was put on the book, instead of ‘ by a lady’. Henry pulled a few strings with some contacts in the clergy and had Jane interred in Winchester Cathedral. Her brother, James wrote a lovely epitaph praising her personal qualities and mentioning the “extraordinary endowments of her mind” but managed to leave out her achievements as a writer.