Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Reflections: Emma

Emma Woodhouse is a charming young lady in Highbury. She is a smart, genteel woman, observing all the manners and views of the Victorian “high-bred” society. She believes she has an innate talent to be a match-maker and prides herself on successfully matching couples, until she makes multiple mistakes with her new and innocent friend, Harriet. Emma is generally headstrong, spoilt and a little pretentious in holding onto prejudices of class and status. Multiple characters get introduced, all of whom fall under Emma’s radar as potential mates for Harriet or for herself, resulting in a romantic imbroglio of sorts, not knowing who is truly interested in whom, until Austen slowly unwraps the convoluted romantic jumble.

This work is hailed as one of Austen’s most popular works. One of my friends, who is a trusted literary enthusiast, has often told me that I had to read Emma, for she considered it one of Austen’s most charming books. I went by her words, but I failed to feel her appreciation for the book. Perhaps I have outgrown Jane Austen. The language is no doubt eloquent and beautiful, gently and intelligently drawing the characters’ personalities. But I didn’t see much of a story, or a plot. It was more of a satire to me, on how genteel ladies of that time idled their time on frivolities, prejudices and gossip. But contrary to how much I love and adore Wodehouse’s similar satire on the aristocrats and pompous British, I found this particular story to be meandering and boring.

But if Austen’s intention was to make a statement about the need for a change in society so that women were occupied with more constructive things than indulge in trivialities, and marriage was not seen as a social ambition or financial security for women, then, I truly applaud her for thinking ahead of her times.


Srishti said...

I agree. Also,Emma was that character which I liked least in all of Jane Austen's books:)

Neeraja said...

Yeah true, she wasn't very like-able :)