To Like or Not to Like Emma Woodhouse? (Guest Post by Cinderzena)

Classic Literature Event

This July Pages Unbound is celebrating classic literature with a collection of guest posts. We asked other readers to tell us what one of their favorite classics is and why we should read it.

See that girl in the home sewn ball gown, watching BBC’s documentary on Victorian England whilst sipping on a cuppa tea, pinky finger out and shoulders back, thats me – the classics buff. My readers know me as Cinderzena, to my friends its Zena and to my family I’m just that daughter/sister who reads too much.


Here are 8 things you should consider first…

It is a question Austenites, classic buffs and random readers alike have been asking themselves these two centuries past. Do you like Emma, or do you not? Jane Austen herself described Emma as “a character whom no one but me will much like.” Yikes! That’s a tough choice for us readers to make, especially when her creator herself deemed her possibly unlikeable.😄 Talk about harsh!

Yes, I was one of you; I disliked Emma with a passion. Confession: I’m a full-on Austenite, willing to walk around Bath in air sucking corsets, having itty bitty cakes for tea possibly, having my eye on a gentleman in breeches who bags a thousand pounds per year. Yes, that very one half of Meryton hates.

Emma Woodhouse; a spoilt rich girl or just your over friendly bff? We have all met people of her personality in our own lives, minus the corsets and parasols.

Here are 8 aspects about Emma Woodhouse you should consider:

1. She’s definitely your bff and ultimate support system.

She has Harriet’s best interests in mind, and is so infatuated with the thought of setting her up, for her friends pleasure and happiness of course, that she doesn’t realize Harriet’s suitor was actually falling for her, Emma. :O Oh Mr. Elton, you and your charades. Friendships indeed!

2. She’s a wonderful daughter in every way.

I think this is something we have to talk about. Living with invalid elders, or even just elders for that matter is no laughing matter. It requires so much of love and patience and good nature to keep at it, especially as she is her only companion, given the departure of her sister and governess. It’s delightful to see her make sure her father’s needs are looked into first before she goes about her activities even her marriage.

3. Sister goals?

I should have just said she’s an all-rounder in the family / friends department. A wonderful host, a faithful friend and supportive understanding companion to them all. I think any of us would be lucky to have a sister like that. If anything, Austen stresses so much on sisterly love, it’s wonderful.

4. Don’t shame her for flirting with Churchill.

If you’ve got the talent to keep up the banter, you go girl! If she knew about the Fairfax-Churchill relationship, I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have gone off the deep end to possibly become a bit attached to him. In her defense, who wouldn’t fall in love with a character like Frank Churchill. He’s charming, good natured, kind and good looking too mind you. Like I said, Who wouldn’t, even a tiny bit? I guess Austen needed to show Emma what jealousy felt like to make her ready to come to realities with her own unmarried situation and that she couldn’t go on being by herself forever. *Awe*

5. She is known to exhude snobbish rich girl vibes …. Sometimes. *Hmprgh!*

I’m going to go ahead and say, I hate people who are snobbish. End of story. Emma did get on my nerves when she kept treating Jane and the Bates like she did, especially at Boxhill. Who agrees?

I really cannot wrap my head around a Jane-Emma friendship. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so strained if jane too has let lose a tiny bit. I do think Emma most probably would have played the I’m bigger than you card😄 and frightened poor Jane Fairfax away.

Miss Bates, though, finally learnt something about herself that only Emma could teach her. Can I also take the liberty to point out that Miss Bates taught Emma something too, something only she could have! Mr. Knightley simply put it into understandable words for her. Can we call it a win win situation?

6. She talks and thinks, a lot!

And sometimes without her common sense screening her words for any red light phrases. Can we judge her? Should we think of ourselves first? She is surely the mistress of taking words beyond their face value. Not everything is a charade Miss Woodhouse!

7. Can we talk about the gentlemen?

I cannot believe Knightley had to wait for some long lost son of the town to return to finally realize Emma’s worth.



*Rolls eyes*

Emma’s worth as an interesting, intelligent human is thus validated.

8. After all the drama, does she change in the end?

I think her way of thought definitely changes. She might tend to be more concerned with others feelings. As to her nosy nature, I don’t think that would have been aborted for good, may be at best, controlled under the watchful eye of Mr. Knightley. >_<

Now that we have assessed some aspects of her character, has your opinion changed or is it still the same. I initially loathed the book with a passion. It was difficult to get into, she was too full of herself, and I was very much put off. I wonder how I could dislike any work by Austen, and was very disappointed in myself too.

I guess destiny had a different story. I reread it a few years later, and I am currently in love with it through and through. Especially Emma, her faults and all. I feel her character fits perfectly amidst literature and character portrayal today, as we are veering towards being diverse and more human, thus flawed individuals.

Does Austen’s warning to us mean anything? Are we meant to scrutinize and judge Emma on her actions? What are your thoughts? Do let us know!🙂

5 thoughts on “To Like or Not to Like Emma Woodhouse? (Guest Post by Cinderzena)

  1. Lost In A Good Book says:

    I have many of the same feelings about Emma. I’m sure you’ve seen the Romolo Garai version. I really loved it because it kind of highlighted some of Emma’s insecurities and the fears that inform some of her stupid decisions. I get that. However, I think Knightley had it right on the nose about the Miss Bates fiasco. Miss Bates didn’t need to learn anything from Emma. So what if she could be a little annoying? People are like that sometimes, she was never malicious, she just didn’t know how to deal with social situations. Emma was being a bully and needed to be taken down a peg. It was a win for Emma because she learned a valuable lesson, but it was a lose for Miss Bates and for everyone else who had to be present for her public humiliation. You’re right that we need to think of Emma as a real human being and see how we may mirror her behavior in real life. If I’d done something so heartless to someone else I’d be rightfully ashamed of myself. I do have to say I love it that a fictional character can promote so much discussion! You’ve given us a lot to think about!

    Funny, I chose Emma for my Top 5 Wednesday this week for many of the reasons you enumerated!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Cinderzenablogs says:

      I totally agree with you about Miss Bates. It all comes down to intention. Miss Bates never intended harm, but does she realize the consequences of her action and we should accept that there will be people like that and act accordingly.At the same time, dont we find people like Emma too, moreso than we find people like Miss Bates. Its a telling factor, esp. today.

      Emma fully deserves to be on that list LOL I contemplated it too, but I have now come to accept Emma, as she is one of the few true depictions of women as a whole in literature. And as for Austen maybe she warned us because we dont like seeing humans being portrayed as they really are.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Emily | RoseRead says:

    What a great post! I absolutely love Emma, the book and the character. I love her faults, and the times when some readers may get agitated with her, I find her endlessly entertaining and often hilarious. She’s such a strong female character (and not strong in the sense that people tend to use that term lately), she has so many problems and she is so unlikable, yet I LOVE her.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Cinderzenablogs says:

      Thanks so much Emily ^_^ Its always fun writing about Austen and her works.🙂 Initially I disliked her, but now every reread or recollection is a fun time for me. I get what you mean by strong. I think she has to be one of few characters, esp. female to be portrayed with realistic flaws as well as realistic strengths. Looking after invalids is no joke. So is keeping up ones duties as a leading family/ lady in town and she’s really young to take on both roles. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

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