I’ve known the story of Emma for a long time. It’s my favourite Austen novel. Forget Mr. Darcy, where’s my Mr. Knightley?
The first time I encountered Emma was the 1996 movie adaptation starring Gwenyth Paltrow. From there I’ve watched the 2009 TV series, Clueless, and the web series Emma Approved.
If you haven’t guessed yet, this is actually my first time reading the novel.
And going into it after such a long understanding of the story, you’d think nothing would surprise me. You’d think I’d know all about Emma being a spoiled little rich girl who hates to be wrong, Harriet the air head, and Knightley the nagging neighbour with a stick up his rear end.
And somehow I was absolutely shocked about how ignorant Emma is. How blind is she? I don’t know why I never saw it in the video adaptations, but geez.
Right from the beginning I knew that Emma’s logic was severely flawed. And it hit me in a way that the adaptations didn’t. It was just so clear that Emma is so obviously jumping to conclusions and blinded by her philosophies, and for some reason that didn’t come through in the movies.
Do I dislike Emma now that I’ve seen her in this light? Absolutely not! It actually allows me a new reading of the story. I’m now anticipating for when she screws up, not because it’s fun to see protags suffer, but because how she reacts and reorganizes herself after each surprise.
I think this is the difference between books and movies. There’s an instant empathy in books that’s a little harder to achieve in movies. I’m excited to encounter more of it as I continue to read!