Having read Emmaa few years ago I was quite keen on rereading it and see whether my previous opinion of
this Jane Austen novel could be changed. I read Emma roughly three years ago for the first time and it was my least favourite book out of all of Jane Austen’s novels I had read. Mostly because I found Emma a very annoying and headstrong character at the time and I felt that this clashed with the heroines of her previous novels, or at least the once that I had read. All in all at that point, Emma was my least favourite Jane Austen novel.
I must confess that after rereading this novel I did a complete 180 turn. It has now risen to be on the same level as Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. While rereading this novel I became aware of the complexity of Emma’s character, but most of all the moral and spiritual growth of her was what had me spellbound. The way Jane Austen constructed this growth is so intricate and slow that as reader you are just as unaware of the moral growth as Emma at times is.
Just as all her other books, Emma is a good example of Regency period writing. Jane Austen wonderfully captures the decadent and elegant period of the Prince Regent’s reign. Especially the intricate class system and the unstable political society. There are so many ways of looking at this novel that it has my mind spinning (I am following a Regency Writing course at present). You can interpret Emma as a comment on the Regency Period society with Emma symbolizing the Prince Regent being influenced on how she should ‘rule’ her own little ‘kingdom’, with Mr. Knightley representing the past times and all good virtues and Frank Churchill as the new decadent and unstable society. Thus Austen writes a highly critical response to the new Regency and the overtly elangance and decadence that became part of society, opposed to the more simple rural life she was used to.
All in all I’m happy that I’ve reread Emma and in all probability I will reread it another time in the far future. I slowly begin to get more respect and love for Jane Austen as a written and I hope this may continue to grow.