This is your personal response and opinion on the effectiveness of the novel. You may judge it for yourself, for the intended audience or as a general appraisal of the worth of the writing. Be specific and provide evidence for any assertions you make.
Jane Austen is an accomplished writer who polarises her audience; they either passionately adore or absolutely abhor her. Regardless of your tastes, she is a writer of merit and maintains a tremendous influence on the development of the English Novel.
Many claim that she is the first modern novelist for focussing on character development through action, interactions and conflict. It is through the development of her characters, her experimental narrative techniques and the design of her novels that we can discover her main concerns.
Quotes on Emma:
1815—Sir Walter Scott, review of Emma
Upon the whole, the turn of this author’s novels bears the same relation to sentimental and romantic cast, that corn fields and cottages and meadows bear to the highly adorned grounds of a show mansion, or the rugged sublimities of a mountain landscape. It is neither so captivating as the one, nor so grand as the other, but it affords to those who frequent it a pleasure nearly allied with the experience of their own social habits; and what is of some importance, the youthful wanderer may return from his promenade to the ordinary business of life, without any chance of having his head turned by the recollection of the scene through which he has been wandering.
1826—Sir Walter Scott eleven years later, after Austen’s death, his enthusiasm having grown
Also read again and for the third time at least Miss Austen’s very finely written novel of Pride and Prejudice. That young lady had a talent for describing the involvement and feelings and characters of ordinary life which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with. …the exquisite touch which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting from the truth of the description and the sentiment is denied to me. What a pity such a gifted creature died so early!
Emma, the heroine, is treated almost mercilessly. In every passage of the book she is in fault for some folly, some vanity, some ignorance,_-or indeed for some meanness.. . . Nowadays we dare not make our heroines so little.
1979—Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar
Austen’s story is especially flattering to male readers because it describes the taming not just of any woman but specifically of a rebellious, imaginative girl who is amorously mastered by a sensible man. No less than the blotter literally held over the manuscript on her writing desk, Austen’s cover story of the necessity for silence and submission reinforces women’s subordinate position in patriarchal culture. . . . At the same time, however.. . under this cover story, Austen always stimulates her readers “to supply what is not there.” [ last quotation is from Virginia Woolf.]
The Talk of the Town August 21, 1995 Austen Anew [ABSTRACT]
Talk story about the current popularity of Jane Austen’s works in Hollywood. “Clueless,” based on “Emma,” is already a hit; “Persuasion” opens in the fall; “Sense and Sensibility” is coming at Christmas; and “Emma” is being shot right now. Clearly, it’s Austenmania in filmland this season. Why ever so? Lindsay… by Greg Critser
1997—Susan M. Korba
For years, critics of Emma have been circling around the apparently disconcerting issue of the protagonist’s sexuality. . Claudia Johnson finds that. . . “transparently misogynist, sometimes even homophobic, subtexts often bob to the surface of the criticism about her.” Johnson cites Edmund Wilson’s ominous allusions and Marvin Mudrick’s dark hints about Emma’s infatuations with and preference for other women as examples of the unease aroused by this particular Austen heroine.
1999—David Andrew Graves
For the last two years I have been using software as a tool for analysing texts for patterns in word sequence and word frequency… . From the viewpoint of word frequency by semantic category, Emma stands as Jane Austen’s lightest and brightest novel, strongly positive, and with the lowest incidence negative feeling, just as she promised us from the very sentence.
2007 Germaine Greer:
Austen’s heroines are middle class, ordinary with no special advantages of looks or education or wealth and yet they are heroes. The battles they fight are the battles of every day They struggle for self control in agonising circumstances. They turn aside so that other people can’t see the hot tears that star eyes. For hot tears do start into their eyes: Austen’s heroines are all passionate, all proud, all sensitive They must deal with the common trials of every young woman’s life, bullying, disappointment, misunderstanding, and most unbearable helplessness to influence the course of events. Though 190 years have passed since Austen’s death, women’s emotional lives still present the same challenges.