Emma: Episode 4, Chapters 16-21

In this episode, we are joined by Harriet’s partner, Michael, and read chapters 16 to 21 of Emma. We talk about the mystery plots, Emma’s fantasies, Emma and Mr Knightley’s interactions, and Harriet’s encounter with Mr Martin (which had us revisiting the map of Highbury).

The character we discuss is Miss Bates, and then Michael talks about army widows and orphans. In the popular culture section, Harriet talks about the 2009 BBC adaptation of Emma.

Things we mention:

General discussion:

  • John Mullan, What Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved (2012)
  • Map of Highbury, created by Professor Penny Gay of the University of Sydney, and reproduced with her permission. The map was drawn in the 1980s and published in Penny Gay’s work Jane Austen’s Emma (Horizon Studies in Literature) Sydney University Press, 1995. More information about it is available in ‘A Hypothetical Map of Highbury‘, Persuasions Online, Volume 36, No. 1, Winter 2015.
Hypothetical map of Highbury, by Penny Gay

Character discussion:

Popular culture discussion:

  • Main version considered:
    • BBC, Emma (2009) – starring Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller
  • Other versions mentioned
    • BBC, Emma (1972) – starring Doran Godwin and John Carson
    • Miramax, Emma (1996) – starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam
    • ITV, Emma (1996) – starring Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong

Creative commons music used:

1 thought on “<em>Emma</em>: Episode 4, Chapters 16-21”

  1. Congratulations on the JASNA AGM breakout session, and on such a competitive topic, too (representations of Mr. Darcy in adaptations).

    I enjoyed Miss Bates in this latest re-read (done so I could follow along with the podcast). I noticed that Emma praised Miss Bates and Isabella for having a good-natured temperament that Emma admits she lacks.

    That 2009 adaptation – yes, when I first saw it, I called it The Adumbrated Emma, because it seemed heavy-handed and seemed to be missing Austen’s language. But now I consider it the best adaptation, “pound for pound” — there’s enough of Austen’s language in it, and it has great clarity. I think readers underestimate how much of “Emma” is backstory mixed with characters who are just names of unspeaking, offstage people (Dixons, Campbells, Churchills) and who, even more confusingly, are often referred to by a placename (Ireland, Enscombe, Yorkshire). Jane Fairfax speaks very little, in relation to how important she is to the story. The 2009 adaptation makes everything clear for a medium where you can’t flip back a few pages to remind yourself who is who.


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