Ang: Y’all know the drill!
Kim: We, the besties, have been reviewing Emma Approved ten episodes at a time during the Emma group reading of amazeballz.
Ang: The first week, we reviewed 1-10.
Kim: The second week, we reviewed 11-20.
Ang: The third week, we reviewed 21-30.
Kim: And this being our final week, we are reviewing 31-40.
Ang: Y’all ready for this?!!
Kim: LET’S BURN THIS MUTHA EFFER DOWN.
Without further ado,
we proudly present to you our final bestie review of Emma Approved,
episodes 31-40, that is.
31. Listening, Again
bestie description: Alex storms in, and we swoon.
Kim: Emma admitted that she has been wrong before? Did pigs just fly?
Ang: Pissed off Mr. Knightley is HAWT.
Kim: ALEX SUPPORTS YOU EMMA.
Ang: Smiley Knightley has all the adorbs.
Kim: Wait, how did Izzy’s husband not know she wanted to finish school?
Ang: Because poor writing…I mean, men = dumb.
32. Back in Business
bestie description: Emma channels Daft Punk and Harriet starts a club.
Kim: Step away from the Krav Maga lessons!
Ang: Dude, but really. Emma seems to think the best way to communicate with people is by pushing them around, can you IMAGINE if she knew Krav Maga?
Poor Knightley would be black and blue.
Kim: Alex wants Emma to work on their communication. *swoon*
Ang: OoOoO PICK ME! PICK ME TO WORK ON COMMUNICATING.
Kim: Emma and Alex have a moment and Harriet should have just turned her butt around and left without a word…come on girl!
Ang: BACK. OFF.
33. Back in the Saddle
bestie description: Emma is unstoppable and we fear for all our safety.
Kim: Intimate gathering of stuck up rich drunk people…yay?
Ang: *weakly waves pom-poms*
Kim: Poor Knightley is going to get an ulcer because of this woman.
Ang: We might need to start a Protect the Knightley Club.
Kim: Oh yeah, heaven forbid she be financially responsible!
Ang: She’s above us common folk. Hair flips and fancy shoes are her concerns.
Money? Pffft. That grows on trees.
34. Attitude and Gratitude
bestie description: We meet Emma’s dad’s Harrie (wha…huh?), and Emma downs wheatgrass.
Kim: Emma is the master of delicate situations said no sane person ever.
Kim: I heart Maddy Bates.
Ang: With all the hearts.
Kim: MAMA. I feel like Emma has met her match!
Ang: I wanna see Jane!
Kim: The Queen of England! bwahahaha!
35. Flies to Honey
bestie description: We eat fancy jams and fall harder for Maddy.
Kim: Can we please always be in Alex’s office?
Kim: People can pay me with pie any day.
Ang: MAMA, you can feed me pie EVERYDAY!
Kim: All I’ve learned from this is that the rich and powerful love an open bar.
blah blah blah plot
Ang: blah blah blah need more Alex
36. Internal Troubles
bestie description: Emma laughs in the face of details and planning.
Kim: Is Emma sane?
Kim: “I have to back you call, Emma.”
Ang: BMart in the HOUSE.
Kim: Martin and Harriet awkward adorbs of sadness.
Ang: Emma really could have used those Krav Maga lessons right about now.
Kim: Am I the only one who wants to punch Emma in the face?
“Men can be so insensitive.” #irony
37. Cinderella in the Making
bestie description: Harriet is worked to the bone for her own good.
Kim: Never saving the whales! Down with the whales!*
Ang: Death to the beast that shall not be named!
Kim: If Emma is the fairy godmother I’ll stick with the wicked stepmother.
Kim: Blah blah blah plot stuff
Ang: Blah blah blah Jane Fairfax
Kim: OoOoOH! KNIGHTLEY’s name was said!
38. Surprise, Surprise
bestie description: Emma and Frank Churchill meet, and we all find out they are both manipulators. Plus, outrageous flirting.
Ang: Knightley and I have the same-ish keyboard.
Kim: “How old was the whale?”
Kim: I hate to be the voice of reason but Emma is insane. I gotta say, I love seeing Emma crumbling under pressure.
What the what? Frank Churchill.
39. Benefiting the Greater Good
bestie description: Emma is all cleavage and it’s obviously for Frank freaking Churchill. Because classsssy.
Kim: Flirty Emma makes me gaggy.
Ang: The. Worst.
Kim: OF COURSE HE WANTS TO BE NEAR JANE.
Ang: Her dumbness level is off the charts.
Knightley interruption for the win!
Kim: “How pretentious the party was?”
Snarky Knightley is my hero.
40. Two for Two
bestie description: Frank has motives and Alex seeees them!
Ang: Emma’s gonna “deal” with Harriet? By dealing with her does she mean, EAT HER FACE.
Kim: You better give that girl a raise!
Ang: I like your shirt, Mr. Knightley.
I also like your fancy new haircut and your face.
Kim: Emma’s disdain for Jane makes my cold dead heart happy.
41. Karma is a…
bestie description: Things finally get interesting!
Kim: IT’S ON LIKE DONKEY KONG.
Ang: HELLLLZ YES.
How sad is it that we’re excited over seeing one of THE MOST hated characters from TLBD. They’re totes playing us, aren’t they, best?
Final “final” thoughts with the besties!
Things we’d like to see:
Ang: Personally, I’d like Alex and Darcy in a room together for a side by side comparison, which is a totes legit thing to want.
Kim: I’m excited to see how this Caroline story line plays out…the woman is the devil. I love it.
Ang: Truth. I’d also like to see a Knightley/Emma kiss, for reasons.
*Kim lives in Alaska, but she is deathly afraid of whales…it’s a totes legit phobia.
This is Emma month on Indie Jane and I couldn’t let it go by without a fangirl post on what I consider to be the most brilliantly realized adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma yet produced. Oh, I do love all the movie adaptations (Johnny Lee Miller!) and the Emma Approved web series and any number of written works, don’t get me wrong. But the more I watch Clueless, the more I appreciate how incisive and insightful an adaptation it is. To use the somewhat enclosed world of Jane Austen to comment on high school class and social politics in the ’90s shouldn’t work as well as it does. It also shouldn’t endure as well as it does even now.
I was an adolescent in 1995 when the movie came out and I was just the demographic that ate it up. I never did see it in the movie theater, but I’ve owned a video or DVD copy of it ever since I saved my allowance money to get one (right after I purchased Alanis Morrisette’s Jagged Little Pill, of course). I was in the crop of girls and boys who grew up saying “As if!” and throwing the WHATEVER sign as a regular part of our lexicon. I wanted to be Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) and I wanted to date Josh Lucas (Paul Rudd in his most dreamy role ever?).
When I was 13, I appreciated the love story and the clothes and the technicolor world in which Cher lived. Who didn’t want that closet and all those clothes? I recognized the high school cliques and the constant popularity contests. I saw the differences between the rich kids and the poor kids and the band geeks and the football stars on a regular basis in my own school. So the world of Clueless rang home in a very real and very silly sense. The movie allowed all of us to kind of see the divisions we had between us and to laugh at them for a little while. Of course, being adolescents scared of change, we didn’t do much about it. But we all had common ground in this little movie.
But now that I’m 31 and have since studied and read and written about Jane Austen’s world more than I ever thought I would, I appreciate even more how well-done Amy Heckerling’s adaptation of Emma actually is. Here are a few reasons why:
Class/Money. One thing that is apparent in whatever Jane Austen book you read is how much money plays a role in the love stories. Possessions open a gateway to love. It’s only after she sees Pemberley that Elizabeth is able to admit to herself that she might love Darcy. (I know, I know, that’s really cynical, but bear with me.) Anne Elliot cannot marry Captain Wentworth because of money. Edward Ferrars is unable to consider marrying against his mother’s wishes because of money. It’s a big deal in these lives. And the class divisions are very real in Clueless, too. Though Americans like to tout that we live in a “classless” society, anyone without money who has ever been to school knows this isn’t true. And it defines much of who you are and what you can do in high school (and in life). So when Heckerling foregrounds class and money issues in Clueless, it’s a pretty big deal. Cher has lots of money. Money leads to lots of material possessions. But her journey through the movie teaches her that those possessions aren’t as important as the people around her. She doesn’t give up the privileges that her money gives her, but she becomes aware of it.
Loving Yourself But Being Willing to Change. Part of the discussion of class going on is highlighted by the fact that Cher and her bestie Dionne think that poor-girl and worst-dressed new student Tai needs a makeover. They basically throw money at her and get her new clothes and makeup. They teach her the “tricks” for acting like a rich person. But none of it really sticks. Tai is insecure about herself for a little while, but she comes to see that she doesn’t really need the makeover and eventually Cher and Dionne agree. They’ve condescended to her as a project for them to work on, but Tai earns their respect for herself. In the end, she goes back to who she is and gets the boy that’s right for her. In Emma, Harriet Smith submits to Emma’s makeover, but comes to much the same conclusion: she doesn’t really need Emma’s help. It’s Emma that changes the most and realizes that her friend is great just as she is.
BOYS. Okay, the love story in this movie spoke to my soul when I was a teenager. Cute and smart older boy falls for girl my age? SIGN ME UP. But upon rewatching, I really really adore the frank discussions the girls have about their sexuality and about the boys they like. None of them apologize for who they like or why they like them. But just as in the book, they realize that boys are confusing. And they are even more confusing when you add the class and money aspects in. Elton is supposed to be a catch, right? WRONG. Tai shouldn’t like Travis because he’s a loser skater-boy, right? WRONG. Just like in the book, it’s only when each of the girls listens to her own heart that she realizes exactly what she wants and needs and then is not afraid to go after it!
Do you love Clueless as much as I do? Let’s do an awkward dance with Tai and talk about our favorite parts!
Ang: blah blah blah review Emma Approved
Kim: blah blah 40 episodes 4 weeks 10 episodes a week
Ang: during epic Emma group reading of epicness on Indie Jane
Kim: first week 1-10
Ang: last week 11-20
Kim: this week 21-30
Ang: CAN WE TALK ABOUT KNIGHTLEY NOW?!
Without further ado,
we shall bless you
with a bestie review of Emma Approved,
episodes twenty-one through thirty, that is.
21. Fine Tuning
In which, we meet Emma the spirit animal.
Ang: I’m starting to wonder if Emma’s definition of friend is vastly different from ours?
Kim: HOW DARE SHE SHUT A DOOR IN KNIGHTLEY’S BEAUTIFUL FACE!
Ang: Dead. To. Me.
Oh, and Emma can just whip up a song, you know, because that’s a thing that’s super easy to do.
Kim: Obviously it’s not, since the woman can’t rhyme for shit.
22. Planning Perfection
In which, Emma shoos Mr. Knightley further proving she’s dumb.
Oh, and her lies are justified.
Ang: If Lizzie had lied to Charlotte like Emma lied to Annie, shank to the face.
Kim: Annie is a fool for not slapping Emma when she had the chance.
23. Moment of Triumph
In which, it becomes even more painful to watch Emma.
And that’s saying A LOT.
Ang: “Curse the small child that sneezed on her!” -Emma
p.s. She needs to be nicer to Mr. Knightley… or else.
Kim: I see a rude awakening in her future.
Ang: blah blah blah James blah blah blah insisting blah blah blah writing on the wall
In which, Emma takes clueless to a whole new level.
Ang: She called herself subtle.
Kim: Creeper is just hanging out in her neighborhood?
Ang: I think what he just said was: “I’m in politics, I professionally lie to people.”
Kim: *bangsheadonwall* just get out of the car Cher…errr Emma.
Ang: Emma right now:
25. Should Have Listened
In which, Emma becomes even more unlikable.
Oh, and has a mental breakdown.
Ang: “Who needs that personal growth stuff when you have wine from Tuscany and shoes from Milan.”
Has she just given up on being likable, relate-able, or even a good human being completely?
Kim: SHE IS NOT A NORMAL PERSON, BESTIE.
Without Knightley this show would blow.
26. New Direction
In which, a man is described as pert.
Kim: Watching Emma have a breakdown is surprisingly satisfying.
It’s good that Emma knows she doesn’t need anyone and is incapable of love.
Kim: I think it’s for the best.
Ang: Wait. Did Izzy just use the word dain? Wha…huh?
Kim: And why is it so hard to find a sit down place for kids to eat?
Ang: Is there nowhere near by with pasta or pizza or a plateful of french fries?!
I have so much confusion.
Kim: Something is wrong with her.
Something is wrong with you, EMMA.
27.The Need to Help
In which, Emma says she won’t jump to conclusions.
Ang: Were her other “clients” clients or more friends and family who’s lives she decided to make better?
Kim: If this is how Emma “takes care of the rest of the world” we are all DOOOOOOOOOOM.
Ang: WINKING AGAIN.
Kim: YOUR SISTER IS NOT A CLIENT.
28. Sister Attack
In which, Emma guilts and manipulates Izzy into doing something she wants because Emma knows best!
King: John sounds like a complete arse.
Ang: Hap-hap-happy household.
Kim: Peeps be hitting each other all the time in this series.
29. Change of Plans
In which, Emma decides she knows what’s best for a married couple, because that makes sense.
Ang: She *seems* thirty.
30. Winners and Losers
In which, we wax poetic about semantics.
Kim: Did Alex just ask Emma to lunch? Like a lunch date?
Ang: OHMYGOSH I MISSED THAT.
I was too busy mocking this:
Final thoughts with Ang
Of Secondary Characters & Comparisons
Comparisons aren’t fair. As a reader, I try my hardest not to compare one book to another. It is my goal to treat every sparkling vampire book equally and fairly, because that’s how I roll, yo. And I’m really truly desperately trying not to compare Emma Approved to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, but it’s not easy. Honestly, it’s not even Emma or Mr. Knightley that I’m struggling with the most (even though, for the record, I still dislike Emma immensely), but the supporting cast is the hardest pill to swallow. I’m longing for a bestie like Charlotte who will smack Emma upside the head. A sister like Jane who will comfort Emma with a cup of tea, but still tell it to her sister straight. Or a sister like Lydia, who not only offers comic relief (HOLLA), but doesn’t worship the ground Lizzie walks on and brings Lizzie’s worse prejudices to light. And let us not forget Figi and Bing and Caroline and Mary and Kitty Bennet and even Lizzie’s costume theater parents. They were a rich cast of characters that made Lizzie’s world stronger, more interesting, simply more. And while Knightley is shaping up to be a wonderful best friend and counselor and supporter and all around swoon worthy, I can’t help but feel bad for Emma that she’s got nobody else to stand up to her or even simply tell her the truth.
Questions. Questions. Questions.
Are you struggling with Emma Approved too?
Is it strictly Emma that’s holding you back?
Or do you miss costume theater and sisterly love as much as us besties?
OR do you love love love Emma Approved and wish never to be parted from her?
Do you feel the show is a vast improvement on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries?
Annnnnnnnd let’s just take a moment to discuss Mr. Alex Knightley.
Like Cecilia Gray, I really love Emma, and for many of the same reasons (you totally stole my thunder, Cecilia, by saying several things I was planning to say): Emma is unfailingly kind to her father and never seems to lose patience with him. She genuinely wants to bring happiness to those she cares about. And to top it all, she is a strong female lead who refuses to be intimidated by anyone.
Now I’m aware that Emma isn’t exactly Miss Popularity when it comes to JA heroines. I suspect that one of the main reasons for this is that she undermines the concept of a conventional heroine, making it quite difficult for us as female readers to identify with her. It’s much easier to empathize with Elizabeth Bennet, for example, who fits very well into the expectations of the quintessential romantic heroine (after all she’s the blueprint). Emma doesn’t. Who could possibly empathize with a female character who says, quite confidently and without irony, “I always deserve the best treatment, because I never put up with any other.” There is no vulnerability to Emma.
But why does a romantic heroine have to be vulnerable, you might ask? It’s easier to explain what I mean by looking at it from a different angle; by seeing Emma, not as a person, but as the role she plays in the novel. From this perspective, despite Emma’s role is to challenge the status quo. Through her, stereotypical social roles are probed and questioned.
To start with, Emma is cast in the role of a powerful, wealthy figure. She’s the equivalent of a male hero in a romance plot. She’s rich, she’s powerful and accordingly she tries to control everyone around her. Plus she’s “handsome”.
If you look at that sentence and substitute masculine pronouns, you’ll see what I mean. “He’s rich, powerful and tries to control everyone around him. Plus he’s handsome.” Sounds familiar?
My point isn’t just to say that what we tolerate in men we don’t tolerate in women, even now, two hundred years later (though that is important) but that there is a role reversal here. Emma is in that sense a romantic hero, one prefers to go it solo, who has no reason at all to bow to the conventions or to feel any need for romance in her life.
Unfortunately – and it says a lot about us as female readers – we can’t identify with a heroine who already has it all. We can identify better with a heroine who is in a vulnerable position to start with – in one way or the other (not pretty enough, not rich enough, has a bad dress sense, etc.). We all know how romances work: the arrogant male protagonist who does not have any need for romance in his life is brought to his knees by a woman who may not be as powerful as he is, but because of her (insert qualities here, let’s say, intelligence and charms) teaches the superior/independent/emotionally underdeveloped male a thing or two about life and as a result, he becomes her devoted slave.
In the novel, effectively, we have two “powerful” lead characters, but it is up to the male figure to teach the emotionally underdeveloped lead how to empathize with those around her. A fascinating switch in roles, wouldn’t you say?
The constant tension in the novel between Emma and Knightley is not simply a romantic one – it’s also a refusal on Emma’s part to allow him to imposition of social constructs on her. The novel appears to be about Emma’s education and “socialization,” and by the end Knightley’s proposal appears to give her the nod of approval, particularly since she responds to the proposal as “What did she say? Just what she ought, of course. A lady always does.”
But her response doesn’t end there. The next day she declares that she cannot leave her father. The choice is clear. If Knightley wishes to marry her, he must leave Donwell Abbey and live at Hartfield.
It’s a fanciful interpretation but I feel the names are no accident. Bearing in mind that JA’s father and brothers were Oxford men, the word Oxford Don refers to a tutor or teacher. “Abbey” also implies conventional religious teachings – or at the very least an enclosed space where monks or nuns were expected to give themselves up in the service of a higher power. Northanger Abbey, too, is a place where General Tilney asserts his uncompromising tyranny over his children.
Hartfield, on the other hand, suggests both an open space – a field—and matters of the heart. By implication, Knightley is to abandon his position as educator and join Emma in a more open relationship. Am I going too far by reading into those names Emma’s rejection of social conventions?
There are other ways in which Emma seems to break with social conventions and accepted norms.
Take Harriet Smith, for example, whom she chooses as a protégée. She could have had the pick of any young lady at that seminary, yet she chooses one who is the natural daughter of an unknown father. A truly snobbish person would not wish to be associated with a person who is, after all, according to the conventions of the time, a social outcast. Emma sees herself as Harriet’s champion. Harriet becomes a “project” to her. She refuses to accept that a bastard child such as Harriet cannot expect to make a good marriage. She wants her to have higher aspirations. Since aspirations for well-bred young ladies of the time were almost always focused on contracting good marriages, that is what Emma wants to do for her. Society would say marrying an uneducated farmer and living a life of drudgery is as much as Harriet could hope for, but Emma refuses to put up with that limitation. (Later, Mr. Martin is revealed to be better educated and more suitable than Emma would have expected).
Snobbish? Yes, but what a different life Harriet would lead if she were to marry Mr. Elton!
Of course, the very idea that Emma can think of marrying off the daughter of an unmarried woman to a clergyman is deluded and deliciously ironic. There is something almost slapstick about it, particularly since Mr. Elton is not the type of person who has charitable impulses. However, Mr. Elton is eventually punished for his higher aspirations. He is reduced to being Mr. E., the caro sposo, and to playing second fiddle to Mrs. Elton, who thinks she is the one who is giving him consequence.
And then there is her friend/governess Miss Taylor. Again, Miss Taylor does not fit the stereotype of the conventional marriageable type. She’s been with Emma for many years, so she’s not young and she’s a governess. At the very least she is a mother-figure to Emma. She is certainly a very close companion. Yet Emma is quite happy to facilitate a marriage between her and Mr. Weston, a well-established gentleman with a large property, since she knows Miss Taylor would prefer a house of her own.
I could go on about this – how Mr. Woodhouse is more of a child to Emma than a father, how Emma highlights the snobbery and superficiality of women who assume that being married gives them a certain status in society, but I think I’ve run out of space.
I’d love your thoughts on Emma – is she a rebel in other ways?
Monica Fairview is an ex-literature professor who abandoned teaching criticism about long gone authors who can’t defend themselves in order to write novels of her own. Monica can be described as a wanderer, opening her eyes to life in London and travelling ever since. She spent many years in the USA before coming back full circle to London, thus proving that the world is undeniably round.
Monica’s first novel, An Improper Suitor, a humorous Regency, was short-listed for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Joan Hassayan prize. Since then, she has written two traditional Jane Austen sequels: The Other Mr. Darcy and The Darcy Cousins (both published by Sourcebooks) and contributed a short sequel to Emma in Laurel Ann Nattress’s anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It (Ballantine). Originally a lover of everything Regency, Monica has since discovered that the Victorian period can be jolly good fun, too, if seen with retro-vision and rose-colored goggles. She adores Jane Austen, Steampunk, cats, her husband and her impossible child. You can find Monica online at her website and on Facebook.
Ang: Annnnnnnd we’re back!
Did ya miss us?
As you’ll remember,
we besties are reviewing the first forty episodes of Emma Approved
here on Indie Jane during the epic group reading of Emma epicness.
Every Wednesday for four weeks we will review ten episodes.
Last week, we reviewed episodes one through ten.
This week, we will review episodes eleven through twenty.
Ang: The coolest.
Kim: Then what are we waiting for?!
Without further ado,
we proudly present to you
a bestie breakdown of Emma Approved,
episodes eleven through twenty, that is.
Emma interferes with Harriet’s life…like a boss?
Kim: BMart is my homeboy.
Kim: Oh heeeeey! Rare bird spotting in Alaska!
Ang: I wanna be a bird in Alaska.*
Kim: Emma’s judging is not bestie approved.
Ang: Nope. No cliches here.
12. The Rooster Obstacle
Nervous Harriet and Marin are adorable.
Kim: Martin! You flirty mcFlirtyson!
Ang: The awkward adorbs is TOO MUCH for my soul.
Kim: Dude! Someone tape Emma’s mouth shut.
Ang: Can I get a witness!?
Kim: Not a genius, Emma, just crazy.
Ang: Or to put it in PG terms, a freaking psychopath.
p.s. The Emma Approved theme song makes me miss Lizzie with all the missing.
Kim: “Harriet is fine just the way she is!” -Alex
Ang: She’s snapping now? can’t.even.
Kim: Manipulation + Twitter = Inevitable Train Wreck
14. Hashtag Miracle Worker
Alex winked, and there was some plot stuff.
Kim: Alex’s wink is the best!
15. Ambition and Fruition
Possibly the worst advice ever given.
Kim: Brainwashing much?
Stop being superficial, Emma!
Ang: I am sure and confident that Emma is the worst.
16. Giving Thanks
Thankfully you don’t have a friend keeping nice sweet gentlemen away from you.
Kim: Sad Harriet makes me sad.
Ang: Sad Martin makes me sad.
Kim: Sooooo thoughtful wrist cushion.
Ang: Yeah, so thought… HAWT KNIGHTLEY ALERT.
Kim: EMMA IS A LIFE RUINER.
Ang: I’m sorry.
Was I suppose to feel sorry for you, Emma?
Because I don’t.
I really really don’t.
17. First Impressions
Introducing Senator Douchenozzle.
Kim & Ang: RUN HARRIET RUN!
18. Practice Date
James is so freaking fake, damn politicians.
Kim: Touching Alex’s face!!!!
19. The Proof is in the Yogurt
Emma lives in a fantasy land. Blah blah blah James boo.
Kim: Is Emma ever subtle?
I’m bored now.
Ang: Can Mr. Knightley please come back?
Ang: All this shoulder touching is reminding me of:
Kim: Annnnnnd I’m back!
20. For a Very Special Lady
Emma, you started the life ruining business like 10 episodes ago.
Ang: “No preference beyond a healthy build and long hair.”
Is the senator looking for a horse or a girlfriend?
Kim: Alex Knightley is my hero.
He sees James’s game!
I want Alex Approved!
Ang: Dear Emma,
p.s. For the love of God, HOW OLD ARE THESE FOOLS?!
And now, some final thoughts with Kim on….
Darcy vs Knightley
One of the best things about Emma Approved is that you don’t have to wait to see Alex. He is there from the very beginning, unlike Darcy in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, whom we see but don’t get a clear picture of till hallway through the story. You can instantly fall for Alex, because you see him for yourself instead of through someones else’s perspective, which sadly for Darcy makes Knightley superior. BOOM.
Who’s got the questions?
Did you like the mystery of Darcy in TLBD?
Was the mystery of Darcy what kept you up night after night awaiting that blessed Darcy Day?
Would you say your heart was dizzie from that moment on?
Or do you prefer the straightforwardness of Knightley in Emma Approved?
How he’s a steady character we can meet and fall in love with without the perspective of other getting in the way.
And what of Knightley’s hawtness?
Does it hold a candle to our beloved Darcy?
Because, let’s be frank, why else are we watching Emma Approved?
*Dear Indie Janers, Kim lives in Alaska, which is a million miles away from Ang and is basically the greatest damn travesty ever, ever, ever. The end.
Ok, so, as a Jane Austen fanatic, it is hard to say anything… untoward about one of her heroines. Especially one that Austen seemed to really like: perhaps even liked the most out of all her female leads. There are things I love about every single one of them.
But I have to be honest. I hate, or at least have a strong dislike, for one Miss Emma Woodhouse. As much as it pains me to say it, she just doesn’t sit well with me. But it does make me feel a little better knowing that Austen herself knew Emma was going to be disliked by most people. So I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad.
Granted, none of Austen’s heroines are perfect. Elizabeth Bennett is stubborn beyond reason, and so prideful that she passes judgment on people based on who strokes her ego. Anne Elliot is somewhat weak. Fanny Price is boring at best. Marianne is annoying and a bit absurd (not to mention immature), and her sister Elinor is one of those “little miss perfect” types that everyone hates. And then there’s little Catherine Morland, who is a tad ditzy.
So no one can, or should, expect Emma to be perfect either. She’s not, and that’s fine. But her flaws reach far beyond those of the other Austen heroines. Emma is vain (in fact, that’s sort of an understatement), controlling, manipulative, somewhat inconsiderate, and narcissistic to the point of almost being a danger to those around her.
Now, let me preface this by saying that I consider myself to be a feminist. It’s part of who I am. But there are those who would argue that not liking Emma, a woman, because she is bossy and confident, is sexist. They would say that these are traits that would be admired in a man. To that I say: False. Sticking to your guns, believing in yourself and what you do: those are all admirable things in any man or woman. Telling others what to do and thinking too highly of yourself are not admirable traits—in anyone. Herein lies the problem with Emma.
Emma feels the need to share her opinion on a number of subjects, and is compelled to make everyone else see things the way she does. Truly confident people trust in themselves and what they believe in; because of that trust they don’t need to make others see the way they do; they can relax enough to accept different views of the world. Crossing that line from being confident you are right, to having to force your opinion on others, is when one becomes controlling. This is when confidence becomes a negative thing—regardless of gender. Emma doesn’t listen to Knightley, she won’t even consider his side of things when he tells her to let people live their lives and that she should stay out of it. She is so “confident”, in fact, that she continues to try to put everyone’s lives in the order and social class she deems fit for them. She even convinces herself that Frank Churchill is in love with her (why wouldn’t he be; she’s Emma)—and she takes an immediate disliking to Jane Fairfax for no apparent reason other than that she interests people and takes attention away from the great Emma.
When you really care about people, you have to care about them enough to let them make their own choices—even if those choices are mistakes, and you know it—and to support them no matter what. It is made clear that Harriet Smith has strong feelings for Robert Martin (and he returns those feelings), but this is of no concern to Emma in regards to her “friend”. She manipulates Harriet into rejecting Robert Martin and into falling for Mr. Elton. She can’t just have an opinion, express it, and then let the person either follow her advice or not. No, she has to make people behave the way she wants them to. And in the case of Harriet, it wasn’t about friendly concern, or Harriet’s best interest. No, my personal take has always been that Emma wanted Harriet with Elton as opposed to Robert Martin because, in her snobbery, she would not be able to associate with Harriet if she were Robert Martin’s wife, and she didn’t want to lose Harriet. Harriet was someone who fed her ego, confirmed her high opinion of herself; who hung on her every word and did whatever Emma told her to. Emma wasn’t about to lose that.
That brings me to the big picture about why Emma is the worst Jane Austen lead. Emma was a snob, plain and simple. Sure, there have been plenty of other snobs in the Austen world (I’m looking at you Lady Catherine, Caroline Bingley, Sir Walter Elliot, and Fanny Dashwood), but never as a lead and never as open about it as her. Emma snubs people (Miss Bates, Robert Martin, Mrs. Elton, and the Coles) in a much more direct and assured way than the other Austen snobs, and she strives for a level of manipulation much higher than even Caroline Bingley. Emma is no matchmaker; she’s a woman who thinks she has the right to assign people to certain social groups, and life partners, just because she is rich. She thinks that not only makes her better than others, but makes her qualified to tell them what to do, and who they are allowed to love. And, sure, by the end of the book she seems to have changed, but people like Emma don’t change for very long. If we’d been able to see her life after she married Knightley, well…let’s just say that position is the driving force for people like her, and she wouldn’t have been able to resist for very long that temptation to use her position at every turn