By Norman Page (auth.)
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Additional resources for Emma by Jane Austen
In the first group are, for example, Mr Woodhouse and Mr Knightley, and on a lower level such families as the Bates and the Martins. In the second group are Harriet Smith, Jane Fairfax, and Augusta Hawkins (later Mrs Elton). We may notice that the members of the second group belong to the younger generation, also that they are unmarried. Emma herself, of course, also possesses these attributes, but her social position is assured and, as she is well aware, she has no need to marry in order to secure either respect or financial security.
The misunderstanding has originated in a conversation between the two girls in Chapter 40. Emma has not only been imperceptive about the behaviour and true feelings of others, but has lacked self-knowledge ; and it is only now that she realises that she herself loves Mr Knightley. Her capacity for misunderstanding and her tendency to jump to conclusions are not yet cured, however : she has only Harriet's word for it that Mr Knightley returns her feelings - and Harriet is hardly a sound judge of character - but Emma immediately takes it for granted that this is so, though there is no substantial evidence to support it.
To a niece who was trying to write a novel she said in a letter: 'You are now collecting your People delightfully , getting them exactly into such a spot as is the delight of my life; - 3 or 4 Families in a Country Village is the very thing to work on ', and this is close to her own recipe as exemplified in Emma. When she was invited to write a novel with a clergyman as the hero, she wrote : 'I think I may boast myself to be, with all possible vanity, the most unlearned and uninformed female who ever dared to be an authoress' ; and though we need not take this modest disclaimer at face value (she was, for instance, quite widely read), it does indicate that she set her face firmly against attempting anything that she was not confident of being able to do entirely to her own satisfaction.
Emma by Jane Austen by Norman Page (auth.)