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A novel by J. Austen, begun 1814, published 1816.

Emma, a clever, pretty, and self‐satisfied young woman, is the daughter, and mistress of the house, of Mr Woodhouse, an amiable old valetudinarian. Her former governess and companion, Anne Taylor, has just left to marry Mr Weston. Emma takes under her wing Harriet Smith, a pretty, pliant girl of 17, daughter of unknown parents, who is parlour‐boarder at the school in the neighbouring village of Highbury. Emma schemes for Harriet's advancement. 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. Emma hopes to arrange a match between Harriet and Mr Elton, the young vicar, only to find that he aspires to Emma's own hand. Frank Churchill, the son of Mr Weston by a former marriage, now visits 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 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 the garrulous old maid Miss Bates; and second, that Harriet has hopes of supplanting her in Mr Knightley's affections. In the end Knightley proposes to the humbled Emma, and Harriet is happily consoled with Robert Martin.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Jane Austen (1775—1817) novelist

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