Favorites February: Emma Volume 3

Synopsis

Emma and Frank Churchill plan an outing for the Highbury group to scenic Box Hill for a picnic. Tensions between Emma, Frank, Jane Fairfax, and the Eltons come to a head as a result of this party, and Emma is finally forced to confront the shortcomings of her character. And Harriet’s new love interest helps Emma to recognize her own feelings…

Why I Love This Book: Volume 3

  • Ah, the love story. I was so invested this time through, so able to catch on to the little details, I was practically swooning.
  • Jane Fairfax is a very interesting character, and I love seeing her fleshed out in this volume.
  • Seeing everyone, even Mr. Knightly, thoroughly abuse Mrs. Elton is so satisfying.
  • In some ways Volume 3 in soooo cringy, because all of Emma’s flaws come to their climax. But seeing her learn and grow is one of literature’s great character arcs.
  • I just adore how Mr. Knightly loves Emma so much that he’s willing to move to Hartfield, something unheard of in that day and age. ALL THE FEELS!

Adaptation Feature

Emma Approved (2013-2014)

Emma Approved is a YouTube series from Pemberly Digital, the same production company that created The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. There is even one major cameo! (Though sadly, it wasn’t Lizzie and Darcy, pooh.) Emma Approved was not nearly as successful as Lizzie Bennet, for many of the predicable reasons. People didn’t like Emma. People didn’t like Frank Churchill. And the writers were a little more free with the adaptation, which some people didn’t like.

As far as an adaptation goes, it’s extremely faithful in terms of tone and characterization. Emma Approved really gets the lighthearted feel with serious undertones of something very wrong. It also does a great job with characterization. Emma in particular is very true to character. Which is a big part of why people didn’t like her… Also, this is my favorite Mr. Knightly. Sorry, not sorry.

In terms of plot, this adaptation took serious liberties. For example, the first ten episodes are all about how Emma literally saves Annie Taylor’s wedding. Frank and Jane’s relationship also doesn’t really make it through the big scandal. But personally, I was fine with the changes they made. I thought they were appropriate for the time the show was made, and they allowed the characters to develop more readily.

My biggest beef with Emma Approved is the end. It really feels like they ran out of money or had bad ratings or SOMETHING and ended the show like, 20 episodes sooner than they originally planned. Somewhere around the Box Hill party things got … weird. The pacing skipped WAY ahead, and I felt like I must have missed a bunch of episodes. It was very strange, and always left me with a bad taste in my mouth regarding the show.

Regardless, I think this is a fun adaption, and if you liked The Lizzie Bennett Diaries I highly recommend it! (If you haven’t watched Lizzie Bennett, GO. NOW.)

Discussion Questions

As always, please feel free to discuss along in the comments!

What is the importance of Mr. Knightley asking Harriet Smith to dance? How does this dance change the relationship between Mr. Knightley and Emma?

I love that moment, because so much of the story hinges on it! I think Mr. Knightly prides himself on being gentlemanly and looking out for others, but that’s really put to the test when he’s forced to consider doing the one thing he truly hates: dancing. But he rises to the occasion. It shows real strength of character. It’s also an essential moment for his relationship with Emma because it’s when, I think, she truly starts to appreciate his good character. And, in getting to know Harriet, he gains a greater appreciation for Emma and her judgement.

And then later, of course, it leads to all kinds of trouble as Harriet starts to feel attached to Mr. Knightly and uses this moment to prove that maybe he likes her too. Emma is likewise convinced. Oh, the drama!

What revelations or lessons does Emma experience that contribute to her growing self-awareness?

I’m always surprised that Emma doesn’t realize her feelings for Mr. Knightly when proposed with the idea that he might love Jane Fairfax, but suddenly when he might love Harriet Smith it all becomes clear to her. Why? What is so different and special about that moment? I think it’s the result of all of the other things Emma had learned about herself in Volume 3. She’s discovered that she doesn’t like the careless way she and Frank sometimes treat others. She’s discovered that once you hurt someone it is hard to un-hurt them. But, most importantly, I think, she’s learned that Mr. Knightly cares for her enough to TELL HER when she is wrong, and then forgive her when she grows. That’s something literally no one else is able to do for Emma.

One criticism leveled at Austen is that her novels do not address the events of her day and lack historical perspective. Do you think this is true in Emma?

So, like, I kind of hate the idea that “historical perspective” only means current events and politics. The day-to-day lives of women are just as important to historical perspective as the political and economic lives of men. Without novels like Emma we wouldn’t know what it was like to be a woman of fortune, perhaps happy enough, but slaves to the will of the men in their lives. And I think that’s valuable.

Jane Austen said when she started to write Emma, “I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.” Do you like Emma? Is it necessary to like the heroine to appreciate the character or the novel?

Emma was the first novel with an un-likeable main character that I ever read and actually enjoyed. Because, honestly, I don’t think I would be friends with Emma. She’s conceited, self-important, and thinks she’s smarter than everyone else. In short, too much like me! Seriously though, she’s a deeply flawed character. But she is also so genuine that’s it’s hard to not like her. I always find myself cheering for her by the end.

It is often said that great literature bears rereading. How is that particularly true with Emma?

Emma has great re-read value because, knowing what’s going to happen, you can catch so many more of the clues as they come. Particularly when it comes to the relationships between Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill, and Emma and Mr. Knightly. So much of those relationships are so subtle that you’ll blink and miss it. But reading it the second time you’re on the lookout for those details and are a lot more likely to catch them.

It’s also such a long and dense novel that it’s easy to forget things. I loved rediscovering some of the hidden gems of this novel, like just how much fun it is to hate Mrs. Elton.

6 thoughts on “Favorites February: Emma Volume 3

  1. Yeah I get what you mean about this part being so cringey in some ways- but I do really like this part of the story as well. And emma approved was a fun adaptation! And I totally get what you mean about how Knightley is amazing in this version!! (I have a hard time picking a favourite though 😉 ) And yeah it did go off the rails and take more liberties with the plot (more than I was okay with tbh). Personally I preferred Lizzie bennet diaries, but it was still decent. Awesome post!

    Liked by 1 person

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