Thursday, June 24, 2004

Emma by Jane Austen

Emma Woodhouse is a woman of great beauty, cleverness, great fortune and wealth, decided nature, and a firm belief that she is always right. Her next door neighbor, whose brother is married to Emma's sister, has no intention of letting Emma believe that she is always right. No, to George Knightley, who has been on the "reform Emma" campaign since she was in short skirts, Emma has been, and will forever be, full of flaws, imperfection, less-than-stellar patience, and possesses an absolutely unmanageable, pig-headed, stubborn attitude...and also the love of his life, not that she knows, of course. Indeed, he has never been more than a very dear and old friend to her.

Emma's greatest passion in life is matchmaking, and, since she is always right, it should only be natural that all her matches should flourish into beautiful relationships, which, undoubtedly, will end in a happily-ever-after marriage. George's ultimate goal is to prove to her that she is wrong, that most of her plans do end up crashing and burning. (Emma pointedly ignores these little failed experiments.)

The neighborhood is introduced to the rather wishy-washy Harriet Smith, who apparently cannot make up her own mind, and therefore, is completely dominated by the intimidatingly strong-willed Emma; Frank Churchill, a rake and cad if there ever was one, with a very charming, flirtatious attitude; Jane Fairfax, who Emma sees as "competition" for attention, and who is described as "elegant"; and Mrs. Augusta Elton, who does not listen, even to her husband, bulldozes her way through any argument and protest, completely "vulgar, base...", a very disturbing lady indeed.

With so many new addition to Highbury, Emma's "flair" for matchmaking is encouraged as it has never been before. But as George has predicted, some things do end up crashing and burning...the product of Emma's matchmaking, a disastorous affair indeed. In the end however, the ultimate question is answered: will Emma ever find a love of her own? E.Y.

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