Emma Woodhouse: the protagonist of the novel. She holds the whole story by her moves; the other major and minor characters are mover of her moves. She is the typical heroine of Austen’s novels. She is twenty years old, mature, caring for her father and haunts loneliness because her mother is dead and older sister married.
Mr. George Knightley: he is a landowner who rents property to Martin. Somehow, he acts as counsellor to Woodhouse family. Emma’s brother in law, cares Emma.
Mr. Woodhouse: Emma’s father and the owner of the Woodhouse estate. He is an amiable old fusspot.
Harriet Smith: she is like an object of Emma’s matchmaking schemes. She is a pretty, pliant girl of 17, is the daughter of unknown parents.
Frank Churchill: a son by Mr. Weston’s former marriage and the stepson Mrs. Weston. Throughout the novel, he is thought to be a suitor for Emma.
Jane Fairfax: she acts as a rival of Emma in beauty achievement. When Fairfax arrives at Highbury, irritates Emma.
Mrs Weston: formerly known as Miss Taylor, who worked as Governess for Woodhouse. In the beginning, she treats Emma as one of the trusted companions.
Emma as Austen’s typical heroine, a clever, pretty, and self-satisfied young woman. She is the daughter of Mr. Woodhouse and mistress of the house. Her father often thinks of unfortunate things that might happen. However, he is a good-humoured and friendly man. Anne Taylor, a former governess who is loved by Emma and her father both. Anne Taylor has just left them to marry a neighbour, Mr. Weston.
Emma, lost the Anne Taylor’s companionship, is missing her now and then. She is looking for a companion, meets Harriet Smith, a boarder at a village school of Highbury. Harriet Smith, a pretty, pliant girl of 17, is the daughter of unknown parents. Emma makes her mind to work on schemes properly for Smith’s advancement. Emma moves on, but her interfering and injudicious attempt results in a modification in the plan. Initially, she prevents Harriet to accept Robert Martin, an eligible young farmer, as being beneath her.
Such Emma’s acts annoy Mr. Knightley, the bachelor owner of Donwell Abbey. He is Emma’s brother in law. Now once again, Emma sets her mind for the matchmaking between Harriet and Mr. Elton, the young vicar, hoping that if he despises Harriet’s offer for the marriage she will take a chance for her own hands. Meanwhile, Frank Churchill, the son of Mr. Weston by the former marriage, a Youngman, looking handsome but lacking in rationalist temperament, visits Highbury. Emma falls in love with Frank Churchill, thinking that Harriet might attract him; Emma encourages Harriet not to despair her. However, the encouragement is misunderstood by Harriet; who assumes that she is directed, not to Frank Churchill but to Mr. Knightley to whom Emma herself, half unwittingly in love.
The aftermath of Emma’s encouragement or discouragement, Emma suffers for double loss; first discovering that Frank Churchill is a married man, Jane Fairfax is his wife. In addition, the second one that the truth comes on the surface that Harriet is carrying her love for Mr. Knightley. However, at the end, things came on the right way, Mr. Knightley proposes to the humbled and repentant Emma, and Harriet is happily consoled with Robert Martin.
Some Important Extracts from the Texts
The real evils indeed of Emma's situation were the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself; these were the disadvantages which threatened alloy to her many enjoyments. The danger, however, was at present so unperceived, that they did not by any means rank as misfortunes with her.
The narrator, page 8
I never thought of Miss Smith in the whole course of my existence--never paid her any attentions but as your friend: never cared whether she were dead or alive, but as your friend. If she has fancied otherwise, her own wishes have misled her, and I am very sorry--extremely sorry--But, Miss Smith, indeed!--Oh! Miss Woodhouse! who can think of Miss Smith, when MIss Woodhouse is near!
Mr. Elton, page. 124
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...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 Knightley, page 37
A few minutes were sufficient for making her acquainted with her own heart. A mind like hers, once opening to suspicion, made rapid progress; she touched--she admitted--she acknowledged the whole truth. Why was it so much worse that Harriet should be in love with Mr. Knightley than with Frank Churchill? Why was the evil so dreadfully increased by Harriet’s having some hope of a return? It darted through her with the speed of an arrow that Mr. Knightley must marry no one but herself!
The narrator, page. 387
This is not pleasant to you, Emma--and it is very far from pleasant to me; but I must, I will,--I will tell you truths while I can, satisfied with proving myself your friend by very faithful counsel, and trusting that you will some time or other do me greater justice than you can do now.
Mr. Knightley, page. 352
With insufferable vanity had she believed herself in the secret of everybody's feelings; with unpardonable arrogance proposed to arrange everybody's destiny. She was proved to have been universally mistaken; and she had not quite done nothing--for she had done mischief.
The narrator, page. 387
He had misinterpreted the feelings which had kept her face averted, and her tongue motionless. They were combined only of anger against herself, mortification, and deep concern...Never had she felt so agitated, mortified, grieved, at any circumstance in her life. She was most forcibly struck. The truth of his representation there was no denying. She felt it at her heart. How could she have been so brutal, so cruel to Miss Bates!--How could she have exposed herself to such ill opinion in any one she valued! And how suffer him to leave her without saying one word of gratitude, of concurrence, of common kindness!
The narrator, page 352
I have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have bourne it. --Bear with the truths I would tell you now, dearest Emma, as well as you have borne with them.
Mr. Knightley, page 403
She would notice her; she would improve her; she would detach her from her bad acquaintances, and introduce her into good society; she would form her opinions and her manners. It would be an interesting, and certainly a very kind undertaking; highly becoming her own station in life, her leisure, and powers.
The narrator, page 24
Miss Bates stood in the very worst predicament in the world for having much of the public favour; and she had no intellectual superiority to make atonement to herself, or frighten those who might hate her, into outward respect...It was her own universal good-will and contented temper which worked such wonders. She loved every body, was interested in every body's happiness, quick-sighted to every body's merits; thought herself a most fortunate creature, and surrounded with blessings in such an excellent mother and so many good neighbors and friends, and a home that wanted for nothing. 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.
The narrator, page 22
About the Prescribed Authors
Paraphrases of the poems