Emma, by Jane Austen was published at the end of 1815, and was the last of her novels to be published during her lifetime. This novel departs from Austen’s others as Emma is the first heroine with no financial concerns. She also spends her time playing matchmaker instead of attempting to find someone to marry- which is a central theme of the other novels.
Although Emma means well she bungles many of her matchmaking endeavors. However, she is always forgiven by each of the characters that she offends. Maybe that’s because even though she can be vain and snotty and a crummy friend she has the decency to feel badly about her mistakes, has realistic expectations of people, and is the most creative character in the novel. That is probably the basis of why the reader likes Emma so much and is on her side no mater what she does wrong – she’s likable but not infallible, the perfect Austen heroine.
Of course since this is an Austen novel she still ends up with her own guy- Mr. Knightley. He’s really the only one who can handle her, and probably the only gentleman ultimately that she would be able to put up with as well. Emma and Mr. Knightley have known each other for years and have been fighting, advising and laughing with each other the entire time. Mr. Knightley is Emma’s standard of good behavior, and is as intelligent as she is- which means he’s the one character she can flex her formidable brain-powers with. It is from Mr. Knightley that we get our quote, “If I loved you less I might be able to talk about it more.” 🙂
Next up on the Austen novel list- Persuasion.