My Two Cents on Jane Austen’s Emma

Just finished this book, so the thoughts are fresh in my mind! This is the third book I’ve read by Austen, a very delightful one. The irony, the wit, the drama, all very charming. Yet it always depresses me to ponder the unhealthy obsession women have of being married, and how little they concealed that obsession from themselves in those days!

I don’t believe anyone has ever questioned Austen’s talent for crafting novels. They’re as good as romance novels with happy endings can be.

Everything works out and condenses into a nicely wrapped package, as is the convention, but at a rate and in a manner that is adequately realistic, averting the readers attention from the mechanism of Duex Ex Machina at work.

In Emma, the “insolence” of an “imprudent” match never suffers to shake up society. Though it is talked of, no one ever marries anyone where an overwhelming disparity is considered (Jane and Frank tie the knot, but only after a very convenient death, of course). The societal lines are drawn, and they serve their purpose. Everyone stays in their little place, for the most part. True love finds it’s way into the lives of the Highbury residents with a degree of grace and good breeding. Honor and family pride remain intact. Love does not choose to cause embarrassment when all is over with, once the misunderstandings are cleared and the characters reconcile with one another.

And of course, why should it be any other way? I’m not saying that these are real faults in Austen’s style. No, her novels have stood the test of time for a reason. I’m not really sure what I’m saying. I seriously doubt I could write a better romance novel. And shaking up society really was a big deal in those days.

Take-away from this post: shake up society! Please do. Write something revolutionary! Keeping characters in boxes is a great strategy, but what is literature without variety?

 

 

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