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Miss Woodhouse Regrets

Written By Arti of Ripple Effects “I am going to take a heroine whom no-one but myself will much like.” Jane Austen, on Emma Andrew Davies created another proficient and loyal adaptation of Austen’s work, a year after his success with Pride and Prejudice(1995). Emma (1996 TV) is effectively written for the screen, bringing out all the crucial scenes in congruent sequences. Great acting from all, except I must say, Mark Strong’s Mr. Knightly seems to be a bit too severe and lacks the forbearing and benevolent nature he possesses in the book. Maybe because of that, Kate Beckinsale is a more subdued Emma, less spriteful than Gwyneth Paltrow’s portrayal. I have enjoyed Olivia Williams as Jane Fairfax and Samantha Morton as Harriet Smith, who is more appropriately cast than Toni Collette in the other 1996 movie. Is Emma such a despicable character that Jane Austen thought no one but herself would much like? At first, I thought so. Emma is manipulative, imposing and snobbish. In her pride, she has toyed with Harriet’s emotions, misdirected her path, and dominated her decisions. In her blindness, she has misjudged intentions and at times, behaved disdainfully. If Lady Catherine were around, her words targeted at Elizabeth Bennet would be most appropriate here: “Obstinate, headstrong girl!”. Lizzy would also decry: “Insufferable!” But, why did Jane Austen still like her? In her ingenious style, Austen has led us in a most gratifying way, to see our heroine regret. Emma is not a perfect human being.

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