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Emma

by Jane Austen
344 pages, General Fiction
Reviewed by Jeanne

A funny story with some misuse of God's name and a rather snobbish main character.

Plot

Marriage has struck the Woodhouse family, much to elderly Mr. Woodhouse's dismay, and Miss Taylor has gone away to live in her husband's house. Handsome, clever Emma Woodhouse is happy for her former governess, especially as she feels that all the honor goes to herself in the way of making the match, and now she is determined to prove her skills at matchmaking to her skeptical friend Mr. Knightley. She begins by taking young Harriet Smith under her wing and attempting to catch the girl a fine husband, and disastrous (and hilarious) results occur.

Morality

Emma is very proud and rather snobbish, considering farmers and laborers beneath her, while Mr. Knightley, in contrast, is chivalrous, kind, and humane. He reprimands Emma for her conceit and mischievous nature so that Emma's behavior is obviously not condoned. This also allows for good development in the heroine. There are a few instances where people talk about others behind their backs, but this also is generally not smiled upon.

Spiritual Content

Church is mentioned and one character is a clergyman. Otherwise, none.

Violence

Two young ladies are attacked while taking a walk by a horde of beggar children, but they are saved. Otherwise, none.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Wine is mentioned in the parts concerning dinner parties, but there is no drunkenness.

Sexual Content

Marriages and engagements both play a part, but are treated with respect. Harriet Smith is said to be the "natural daughter of somebody" - meaning she is probably illegitimate.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

In chapter 47, near the end of the book, Emma exclaims "Good God!" four times.

Conclusion

"Emma" is a fun little read, though less philosophic than Austen's "Pride and Prejudice". Emma Woodhouse is an interesting heroine in that, unlike many of Austen's other lead characters, she has glaring faults and is neither very talented nor perfect (or nearly so) in her manners. The matches of the story are interesting and the story is very humorous, so if you're looking for a light, fluffy read, this is a good one to pick.

Fun Score: 4
Values Score: 4
Written for Age: 13+

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