A short summary of the novel Emma by Jane Austen

Emma is a novel by Jane Austen. It was published in 1816. The novel is among Austen’s most accomplished works, fully realizing her own recommendation of 3 or 4 families in a Country Village’ as ‘the very thing to work on’. Emma, a clever, pretty, and self-satisfied young woman, is the daughter, and mistress of the house, of Mr Woodhouse, an amiable old fusspot. Her former governess and companion, Anne Taylor, beloved of both father and daughter, has just left them to marry a neighbour, Mr Weston, Missing Miss Taylor’s companionship, Emma takes under her wing Harriet Smith, parlour-boarder at the school in the neighboring village of Highbury. Harriet, a pretty, pliant girl of 17, is the daughter of unknown parents. Emma’s active mindsets to work on schemes for Harriet’s advancement, but her interfering and injudicious attempts lead in the end to considerable mortification. She first prevents Harriet from accepting an offer of marriage from Robert Martin, an eligible young farmer, as being beneath her. This tampering greatly annoys Mr Knightley, the bachelor owner of Donwell Abbey, who is Emma’s brother-in-law and one of the few people able to see that she has faults. Emma has hope of arranging a match between Harriet and Mr Elton, the young vicar, only to find that Elton despises Harriet and has the presumption to aspire to her own hand. Frank Churchill, the son of Mr Weston by a former marriage, an attractive but thoughtless young man, now comes to visit Highbury. Emma first supposes him in love with herself, but presently thinks that Harriet might attract him, and encourages her not to despair. This encouragement, however, is misunderstood by Harriet, who assumes it is directed, not at Frank Churchill, in whom she has no interest, but at the great Mr Knightley himself, with whom Emma is half unwittingly in love. Emma then suffers the double mortification of discovering, first, that Frank Churchill is already engaged to Jane Fairfax, niece of Miss Bates, who lives in the village; and second, that Harriet has hopes, which appear on the surface to have some foundation, of supplanting her in Mr Knightley’s affections. However, Knightley in the end proposes to the humbled and repentant Emma, and Harriet is happily consoled with Robert Martin.

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