Emma Woodhouse is the self-appointed matchmaker within her small circle of friends and acquaintances. She is lovely and wealthy. She has no mother; her fussy, fragile father imposes no curbs on either her behaviour or her self-satisfaction. Everyone else in the village is deferentially lower in social standing. Only Mr. Knightley, an old family friend, ever suggests she needs improvement.
When she meets pretty Harriet Smith, Emma takes her up as both a friend and a cause. Under Emma's direction, Harriet refuses a proposal from a local farmer, Robert Martin, so that Emma can engineer one from Mr. Elton, the vicar.
Scheming and presumptuous, however, Emma's vision for who belongs with whom often runs at cross-purposes to what would be best or to what her chosen 'clients' actually want. Indeed, Emma seeks to orchestrate several matches only to find that people have a curious way of making up their own minds. Thanks to her meddlesome ways, tangles, confusion, and hurt feelings ensue, to which even the matchmaker herself is not immune. Can Emma restore peace to her associates' lives and salvage her own reputation once things have gone so horribly awry?
Characters To Personalise
Emma Woodhouse - Is the protagonist of the story. She is a beautiful, intelligent twenty-one year old who presides as the mistress of the Hartfield estate. While she is in many ways mature for her age, Emma makes some serious mistakes, mainly due to her conviction that she is always right and her lack of real world experience. Strongly attached to her old and hypochondriac father, Emma has decided not to marry. She satisfies her romantic desires by trying to be a matchmaker; and its only jealousy that makes her realise she has loved Mr Knightley all along.
George Knightley - A perfect English gentleman. He is thirty- eight years old and is the owner of Donwell Abbey. Knightley is the only character who is openly critical of Emma, helping to free herself from her delusions. He believes in the social hierarchy, but is mature enough not to let it rule his life.
Jane Fairfax - A charming young lady of Emma's age who serves as a foil to her. Jane rivals Emma in accomplishment and beauty; she possesses a kind heart and a reserved temperament. Jane, who is poor and orphaned, is faced with the prospect of earning a living by working as a governess, which she considers a lowly job. She, therefore, gets secretly engaged to Frank Churchill, hoping to free herself from the hard luck of working as a governess.
Frank Churchill - Mr. Weston’s son and Mrs. Weston’s stepson. Frank Churchill lives at Enscombe with his aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Churchill who have adopted him as their son. He is twenty three years old and is considered a potential suitor for Emma, but she learns that though Frank is attractive, charming, and clever, he is also irresponsible, deceitful, rash, and ultimately unsuited to her. In a wanton and frivolous manner, he exploits Emma's self-love and self-conceit to serve his own interests and does not hesitate to hurt the feelings of Jane Fairfax to whom he is secretly engaged. Given to indecisiveness and deceit, Frank Churchill undeservedly wins Jane Fairfax's true and selfless love.
Harriet Smith - A pretty but unremarkable seventeen-year-old woman of uncertain parentage, who lives at the local boarding school. Harriet becomes Emma’s protégé and the object of her matchmaking schemes. She looks up to Emma with awe for her wealth, social status, and intelligence.
Philip Elton - A twenty-seven year old bachelor clergyman in Highbury, considered a welcome addition to any social gathering. When he reveals his indifference to Harriet and his desire to marry Emma, only to take a bride at Bath shortly thereafter, he comes to seem proud, conceited, and superficial.