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Rory Book Discussions > Emma by Jane Austen

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message 1: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
As much as I can't believe it is already February, let's get the ball rolling on Austen's Emma...our third Austen to read and discuss in this group! Let's hope this one goes as well as the previous discussions.


message 2: by Natalie (new)

Natalie | 23 comments Alison wrote: "As much as I can't believe it is already February, let's get the ball rolling on Austen's Emma...our third Austen to read and discuss in this group! Let's hope this one goes as well as the previou..."

Some of us began a discussion at the end of "Currently Reading" thread . . . perhaps it's worth transferring over to get things moving?


message 3: by Dini, the master of meaning (last edited Jan 31, 2009 11:21PM) (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
I'm gonna re-post some Austen-related comments from that thread...

Jessica said:

"I just started Emma as well, and I was wonderin g, has anyone noticed that Jane Austen has this unique way of taking something that could be said simply in one sentence and extending it to be an entire paragraph. Don't get me wrong I love her work, and I have read quite a few of her books. This is a pattern I have noticed in many of her books actually. One sentence was like four lines long with five comma's in it.

I asked a friend about it once and he told me that during the time period that Austen lived, they paid authors per word. So if your book had a lot of words, you got a lot more money. I don't know if that is true, I never looked into it, but if it was it would make sense for this quirk in her style."



message 4: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
Emily said:

"Jessica, That's the reason why I have so much trouble getting through Austen's books I always feel like shouting JUST SAY IT!"



message 5: by Dini, the master of meaning (last edited Jan 31, 2009 11:23PM) (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
And then I said:

"Ha, that's interesting, Jessica. I've never heard anything about it but Austen's sentences really are complicated sometimes. But don't you think it's the beauty of it, that she can play with words and reveal so many subtle nuances? What I love most about her language is the way she describes people's personalities."



message 6: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
whichwaydidshego (Michele) said:

"Austen would play with words and put in multiple meanings. But also her descriptions create complete pictures, and that often takes a lot of words. What she expresses is far more than the words used. The undercurrents therein are fabulous... particularly in the interactions, relationships, and most of all in her characterizations.

Oh and she is NOT an author that got paid by the number of words. Dickens was, but he was a whole other era."



message 7: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
Natalie said:

"You express it beautifully - and right abt Dickens . . . but I understand Jessica's perception . . . having read Emma only @ a week ago, I do remember being underwhelmed w/ it until the halfway mark . . . then my brain somehow adjusted to Austen's wavelength and I began to love her! Tonight, I opened Northanger Abbey - deciding which books to pack for a trip - suddenly I was halfway through, this time w/out pain, and not packed! Which I'll do now, if not waylaid . . . bye!"


I think that's it. Phew! Carry on now :)


message 8: by whichwaydidshego?, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego? (whichwaydidshego) | 1996 comments Mod
Nicely done, Dini!


message 9: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Bravo!


message 10: by Jessica (last edited Feb 01, 2009 04:51PM) (new)

Jessica (Panda_K) | 30 comments Sorry, I probably should have waited before I commented on Emma it would have saved you some hassle Dini. I re-read one of the passages in Emma and I do understand where you are coming from. I guess I just always like Austen better for her charcaterization and satire.

Unfirtunaltely I did not read much this past weekend. I am in the middle of chapter four and I have to say Emma's character is frustrating me. She is very stuck on herself! Her pride and vanity remind me of Darcy, only she seems more naieve. Yet I love the fact that she is a unique charcater as well. I have not read any other Austen books with a main character like her.

I am hoping that somehow she changes, like Lizzy, and I am curious to see what Austen does with her. All the more reason to keep reading! :D


message 11: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
Jessica, it was no problem, really.

And while I love Austen's language and her wit, it does get complicated especially when our brain is a little addled and all we can handle is simple sentences. LOL. That happened to me while reading Emma, it took me about a month to finish it because at one point I had to put it away for a while.

It's interesting what you said about Emma's character. Maybe she comes across as proud because of her situation in life -- unlike other Austen heroines, whose options in love and marriage are often limited because they are cash-strapped, Emma is the only daughter in a very rich family.

"Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her."


message 12: by whichwaydidshego?, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego? (whichwaydidshego) | 1996 comments Mod
I have to be honest and say that I liked this book very little when I first read it - possibly least of her books. After seeing (and LOVING) the film with Gwyneth Paltrow, I realized that perhaps I wasn't reading it at the right time in my life or in the right frame of mind. I do appreciate it much more now... and even laugh as I read it. But that first time I was just NOT impressed much.

It's humor is much more satirical than many of her other works. If you take the time to get into the rhythm of this novel, though, it is a witty, wry, fun read. I look forward to more in-depth discussions as people get on into the book.


message 13: by Bonnie (new)

Bonnie | 4 comments I just finished this book in the beginning of January and I loved it. It's one of my favorite Austen novels. I read on wikipedia that Austen created Emma as a character that she didn't think the audience would like. I think Emma's snobbery is one of her least likeable characteristics, but I have to say I actually really like Emma herself. She has a lot of flaws, but she has a good heart and eventually tries to become a better person.

I re-watched Clueless after reading the book. I was happy I did! It was cool seeing the similarities and all the liberties that were taken.


message 14: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn | 361 comments I was really surprised at what a good job they did with "Clueless" :-)


message 15: by The_Freddy (new)

The_Freddy  (The_freddy) | 49 comments I like Emma as a character, she's very real to me.
And she has flaws, which is probably one of the reasons I like her, but she is able to overcome them - and she isn't mean or illwilled.
I could re-read it already (and I just finished the audio version a couple of weeks ago! ;-) ).

I agree it is very satirical, but not in a bitter way. It's a lighthearted book, I think.


message 16: by Jessica (last edited Feb 02, 2009 05:42PM) (new)

Jessica (Panda_K) | 30 comments Kathryn, It's funny you should say that because I was thinking the same thing this morning. She does remind me of Cher.

The one thing I dislike about Emma's character is the fact that she sees herself as superior to others. I guess that has always been a quality that ahs rubbed me the wrong way. But I suppose she is that way because of her young age and she was never taught any different. I have to read on to see what happens to her and how she evolves.

Bonnie, That's an interesting bit of information that you found :)


message 17: by Cody (new)

Cody Wilshire (codywilshire) | 85 comments I have to admit I've never really been that big of a fan of Emma, especially after the movie was made. BUT I'm totally going to give it another shot, a true shot, and read the entire thing with an open mind. I'm very picky about the Austen that I enjoy, and it's a very slim list (I think it has...one book on it lol). So we will have to see. I have always liked that she has her flaws and like someone else said, overcomes them without being conniving or rude, mean spirited or hostile. But anything beyond that, well I'm just going to have to re-read the book and see...


message 18: by Antonio (new)

Antonio | 6 comments Hi RGBC!
I'm an eager beaver and look forward to reading Emma with you all. I have my copy freshly checked out from the library and am going to go ride my stationary bike and crack a few pages.

Literally yours,
Antonio


message 19: by Antonio (new)

Antonio | 6 comments Wow! I have never read a word of Jane Austen before now! I am blown away by the density and descriptiveness so far. 20 pages in and I feel like I have read 200! You go, Jane Austen!


message 20: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
Dee -- long time no see! :)


message 21: by whichwaydidshego?, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego? (whichwaydidshego) | 1996 comments Mod
DEEEEEE!!!! I've missed you!! Hooray-hooray-hooray, Dee's back!!


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

I just started reading Emma yesterday. I've read it a couple of times within the last 15 years or so. emma is not one of my favorite characters, but I love how Gwyneth Paltrow portrayed her. I was never able to forgive her for her treatment of Miss Bates. I just started reading it again and I'm going to try and search for the good in Emma and not the spoiled, mean spiritedness that I remember from past readings.


message 23: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 04, 2009 10:08AM) (new)

I read Emma last summer and I just loved it.

~ Some spoilers ~



Sometimes, I was pretty annoyed with her, especially when she thought she had to be in love with Frank or when she was being mean to Jane only because she was jealous of her.
I loved Mr. Knightley, and although it was clear that they'd end up together, I couldn't really see why he fell in love with Emma. Sure, he had known her for a long time and was the only one who saw her faults, but she seemed a bit shallow compared to him - I thought he'd like someone with more substance.
Frank and Emma would have suited each other a lot more, but I really liked him with Jane, as well. It was just funny how he pretended not to like her.


message 24: by Luiza (new)

Luiza | 11 comments I don't think Emma was shallow. She was a bit spoiled really. She was used to being the center of attention, and being liked and admired by everyone around her, and having things her own way. That considered, I think she actually turned out pretty well.


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

Well yes, you are right, she was spoiled and used to being admired. And all she really thought about when trying to match Harriett was looks and money. I do consider that shallow.
I also thought she turned out all right in the end, but all the being jealous of Jane and being so fixed on looks was pretty arrogant.


message 26: by Luiza (new)

Luiza | 11 comments **Spoiler alert**

Reinforcing my point: Emma liked Mr.Knightley better than Frank because he had more sense, and what Jane Austen usually calls "a superiority of mind". Would a shallow person care about that?

(another topic)
**Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey's spoiler alert**

I think it's interesting to see how Jane Austen heroes are usually men who help women see their own faults and build their character. Not all of them, obviously, but isn't that what Mr.Knightley, and Mr.Tilney, and Mr.Darcy do?


message 27: by Luiza (new)

Luiza | 11 comments Marion wrote: "Well yes, you are right, she was spoiled and used to being admired. And all she really thought about when trying to match Harriett was looks and money. I do consider that shallow.
I also thought sh..."


Her trying to match Harriet and Mr.Elton was also an attempt to raise Harriet's situation in life.




message 28: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn | 361 comments I *heart* Mr. Knightley (especially after seeing Jeremy Northam in the role, swoon!)

I think there is very interesting blend in Emma. I do not think she is purely selfish/ego-driven, nor do I think she is purely altruistic. On the one hand, she most certainly does think well of herself and I think there is a fair amount of ego involved in her matchmaking. However, I also think that part of her is truly good-hearted and wants to see people happily married. For example, WHY would she have wanted Miss Taylor to marry if not for Miss Taylor's own happiness (knowing that she, Emma, would miss her and that her father would, too)? Certainly it is a bit romantic and fanciful for Emma to imagine Harriet into a higher position and "better catch" than the dear farmer. But, remember that it IS a class-based society and Emma was certainly conscious of the advantages Harriet could achieve by marrying someone of higher rank. Note that Emma DID wish there to be love involved--it wasn't mere contrivances to marry for money. Misguided, certainly, but I do not think Emma has deserved the criticism that is so lavishly heaped upon her--even by Austen herself who claimed Emma to be a heroine that only she, the author, could love.

Luiza--I agree that Emma's friendship with Mr. Knightley shows that she is not completely shallow--someone purely egotistical could not stand being around someone who tended to point out her faults!








message 29: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn | 361 comments ***SPOILERS***

In the notes to my edition of EMMA the scholar noted that we are led to believe that Mr. Knightley is Emma's brother-figure and Frank her lover-figure, but ultimately Knightley is the lover and Frank the brother. While it is true that Emma and Frank seemed suited to one another--similar--perhaps it was too much so. Emma was attracted to all the things in Frank that she admired in herself--when she began to see that some of those things were not really as "good" as they should be, she turned to someone who had more of those qualities and thus could help her cultivate them in herself. I think the real turning-point is at the Strawberry-picking with Mrs. Elton and the slight on Miss Bates.


message 30: by Luiza (new)

Luiza | 11 comments Kathryn wrote: "***SPOILERS***

In the notes to my edition of EMMA the scholar noted that we are led to believe that Mr. Knightley is Emma's brother-figure and Frank her lover-figure, but ultimately Knightley is t..."


That IS really interesting, and they are right! Frank was too much like Emma, and he needed Jane Fairfax's sense as much as Emma needed Mr.Knightley's.




message 31: by Anastasia (new)

Anastasia (spencerafreeman) Clueless was an adaptation of Emma? I never knew that... but it makes sense. I tried reading Emma before and couldn't get into it, but I might have to give it another try. I really just have to get used to the language


message 32: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn | 361 comments Anastasia--Yes, the language is really hard to get used to. I almost gave up when I first started Austen because I also got very frustrated with her use of pronouns, sometimes it's hard to tell to which "she" or "he" she is referring!!! All the family names, the acquaintances, it can get overwhelming. I almost hate to say this BUT (just because I hate to think of anyone giving up on Austen for good) if you find yourself getting too frustrated to the point you don't want to read anymore, then I would recommend seeing a good movie adaptation--that will help you keep straight who is who and what is happening, then you will be in an easier place to go back and read the book. Provided, of course, you won't feel too miffed by already having the endings spoiled!


message 33: by Amanda (new)

Amanda | 16 comments MINOR SPOILERS

With all the discussion of Emma's character, I have to bring up the one character of the story that I truly couldn't stand - Frank. While he and Emma have similar attitudes and seem to believe themselves entitled to everyone thinking them wonderful, he is far more hurtful in his actions toward Jane. I don't understand how we are to believe that someone so mild and even-tempered could withstand his behavior. I find it similar to Edward's situation in Sense and Sensibility. I guess it was a different time, but I'll never understand the need to hide an engagement in the first place, let alone the need to go to such great lengths to fool everyone.

One other point in light of earlier comments ~ yes, Emma is focused on status in her match-making (referring specifically to Harriet) and that may seem like something that was from that era. But... (and disagree if you want) there are a lot of people in the world today who are still focused on finding someone who will somehow "better" their lives - be it by money, social status, etc. It's unfortunate, but I don't believe that's something that has completely left us as a society.


message 34: by Joanna (last edited Feb 04, 2009 05:37PM) (new)

Joanna | 3 comments I think your're right about Emma being a flawed character, but all of her actions were well intended. She just believed that she knew best. But if you think about it, her self-centered nature would be pretty hard to avoid. She grew up idealized by her father at the center of a very small society. I think Austen does a terrific job of letting us see how Emma's self awareness grows, and makes us laugh along the way.


message 35: by Joanna (new)

Joanna | 3 comments oh something else I wanted to throw out here. A good friend of mine shocked me the other day when she confessed that she does not like Austen. I never knew anyone who did not like her work. My friend complained that her stories focus on nothing but marriage. I tried to explain that they were more complex than that. I am interested in your thoughts. How can we convince my friend to give her another try?


message 36: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (Panda_K) | 30 comments Personally, I feel like Austen is an author that you either like or do not like. Her books are not just about marriage, but about the society that Austen lived in. There are other themes in her books of course, but in order to get them you have to submerge yourself in her society. If you are not into that period of history then chances are you will not enjoy her books.


message 37: by Luiza (new)

Luiza | 11 comments The novels are so not just about marriage. Of course, Austen was writting about the world she lived in, and, well - let's face it - there wasn't all that much else going on in a woman's world back then. But though the romance makes the story flow, there's so much else happening in the between - the way she captures human nature, people's behavior in society, her delightful irony... They are so not the only point that sometimes nothing even happens until the last few pages, and then it's just mentioned that they ended up together. ~Don't read this part if you haven't read the others~, but that happens in Mansfield Park, and in S&S with Marianne, and in Northanger Abbey...

Anyway, I hope that helps you with your friend... I don't know, it's just what I think. *shrugs*


message 38: by Luiza (last edited Feb 05, 2009 07:04AM) (new)

Luiza | 11 comments Jessica wrote: "...you have to submerge yourself in her society. If you are not into that period of history then chances are you will not enjoy her books."

Yeah, I guess you're right about that.




message 39: by Dini, the master of meaning (last edited Feb 04, 2009 07:51PM) (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
SPOILERS


Amanda, I thought the same about Frank. I can't imagine how he can flirt so freely with Emma in front of the woman that he supposedly loves.

About Mr. Knightley, has any of you read The Jane Austen Book Club? In the book six people gather every month to discuss Austen novels. When they discussed Emma, one of them complained that there was no 'spark', no passion between Emma & Mr. Knightley. What do you all think?


message 40: by Luiza (new)

Luiza | 11 comments Dini wrote: "About Mr. Knightley, has any of you read The Jane Austen Book Club? In the book six people gather every month to discuss Austen novels. When they discussed Emma, one of them complained that there was no 'spark', no passion between Emma & Mr. Knightley. What do you all think?"

There's a book?! I only saw the movie xD
But I have to disagree with them there. I can see the spark, Mr.Knightley is so charming! Emma says he is the man with "the most gentlemanlike manners". In 1800s, that's like saying he drove a Harley Davidson in a leather jacket!




message 41: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn | 361 comments I think that sometimes Mr. Knightley gets "demoted" as a romantic lead in people's eyes because they tend to see someone like Mr. Darcy as being more "romantic" because he is a bit more brooding/flawed/whatever (consider other leads that people tend to swoon over from that era like Heathcliffe or Rochester). Someone like Mr. K is just so GOOD. So, perhaps that is where the "no spark" ideas come from. (The same might be said for Bingley and Jane--remember Darcy didn't think they truly cared for one another because there seemed a lack of ardor in Jane's demeanor). I think Mr Knightley and Emma have a truly loving relationship. -- And, um, anyone who sees the Jeremy Northam version of the movie, wow! I don't think there's any lack of spark with HIM! ;->


message 42: by Melissa Rochelle (new)

Melissa Rochelle (melissarochelle) (After I wrote all of this, I realized it might contain spoilers. Read with caution.)

I think it's interesting that in Clueless they decided to make the Frank character gay and that only Elton kept the name.

Bingley/Edward Ferrars/Mr. Knightley...they all equate to the shy, second best leading man. Unfortunately, the cads get more attention, Wickham/Willoughby/Frank. The thing that's strange about Mr. Knightley getting second billing is that he IS the leading man. I guess I can see how some people can say that nothing happens until the very end. However, the relationship between Knightley and Emma is set up in Ch. 5 when Knightley is talking to Mrs. Weston about Emma's friendship with Harriet. Or maybe I see that now because I've read Emma a few times.

This is at least my 3rd time reading Emma and it was the first Austen I ever read (I got it from the public library...I was in 9th grade.) Ten years later, it's still one of my favorites. There's just something about Emma that really makes me love her. Part of it is that she's not mean or shallow, she's just real. She sees the world through her eyes and she doesn't really understand that other people have a different view. For me, Emma is the one Austen character that I can actually relate to. She's not perfect, she makes mistakes, she falls for idiotic men, she is oblivious to men that are interested in her (i.e. Mr. Elton/Knightley), and she picks friends that make her feel better about herself. I feel that compared to Marianne, Emma's an angel...but that's getting into a completely different book.





message 43: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (Panda_K) | 30 comments *Minor spoilers...maybe*

I just got to chapter nine, which is the chapter with the riddles. I loved this part!! I have never seen riddles like these, but they are very clever. I had to read Mr. Elton's riddle several times and I did not understand what was meant by "My first" and "My second." Once Austen explained the riddle it made perfect sense. I thought at first that he was comparing loving Emma to being greater than owning the earth or the sea. Then I saw how very wrong I was.

I realized then that, "My first" is refering to the first word in a compound word. Austen mentioned charades on the previous page but it took me a while to make the connection.

What do you think the other riddle means. Austen does not explain that one:

"My first doth affliction denote,
Which my second is destin'd to feel,
And my whole is the best antidote
That affliction to soften and heal." (Austen,71)

I have the pocket books edition so the page number may vary.


message 44: by Joanie (new)

Joanie | 197 comments I was really looking forward to reading this but I'm having a hard time getting going. I don't know if it's my copy (Dover Thrift Edition) or if it's just the writing in general but it all feels so crowded to me when I'm reading. I know that's a really weird thing to say but that's how I feel. Maybe it's because there hasn't been a whole lot of dialog yet and I'm just wading through lengthy paragraphs and maybe that will change as I read more. I've never read Austen before (for shame, I know!) and I was expecting to have an easier time of it similar to when I read Jane Eyre. Just have to hang in there I guess.


message 45: by Naomi (new)

Naomi (Gnomesb) Jessica, In the charade, "my first" is woe and "my second" is man, so that "my whole" is woe-man = woman (did you groan? I did!).

Jessica wrote: "*Minor spoilers...maybe*

I just got to chapter nine, which is the chapter with the riddles. I loved this part!! I have never seen riddles like these, but they are very clever. I had to read Mr. ..."





message 46: by Annette (new)

Annette | 4 comments Joanie- I understand exactly what you mean when you say the writing "feels crowded." I love the story of Emma, enjoyed the movie but found the book difficult to get through. My personal Austen favorites are Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey--they just flow a lot better in my opinion. But I would also recommend getting a different printing of Emma to see if that makes a difference, I know I had to do that with Mansfield Park. Hope this helps!


message 47: by Cody (new)

Cody Wilshire (codywilshire) | 85 comments Hi hi hi hi everyooonnneee! I missed you guys.

Okay honestly, I just can't stand Emma as a person. Yes she has good qualities, and yes she has bad qualities...every single human being does. She just...doesn't captivate me.

I swear, I'm missing a girl gene or something. I didn't awww at the end of the movie of 'Hes Just Not That Into You' which every single girl and most of the guys did, and I can hardly EVER get into Austen. DAMNIT. I'm broken!


message 48: by Dottie (last edited Feb 12, 2009 10:02AM) (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 698 comments Not broken, Dee, I've got many years and several readings of Austen on you more than likely but having read one of her works -- I can barely go back and read again -- this group has helped me do that with a couple Austen works but I'm never going to be a great fan, believe me. Some classics just aren't everyone's cup of tea -- now give me some good Bronte, that's another story and I can't explain why Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre appeal while Pride and Prejudice leaves me ho-humming.

Now having said all that, I plan to read Emma but not in time to discuss most likely. Once I read it, I'll certainly come read this thread though.


message 49: by Cody (new)

Cody Wilshire (codywilshire) | 85 comments Exactly. I'm a big lover of classics, I really am...but Austen, has never really done it for me. However I am trying to stay open minded and just...try to get into Emma. Or at least I'll watch the movie and try to get into it lol. I'm trying both damnit!


message 50: by [deleted user] (new)

Hi Dee,
we haven't talked yet because I have joined the group just recently while you have been away but I have read some of your old comments and heard the others say nice things about you and I am very exited to meet you "in person", at least sort of ; )
Nice to meet you!


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