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1. To what extent does the narrator
express approval of Emma, and to what extent does the narrator criticize
her? Choose a passage from the novel and analyze the sympathy and/or ironic
judgment the narrator expresses in relation to the protagonist.
2. Emma is filled
with dialogue in which characters misunderstand each other. Choose
a scene from the novel and describe the mixture of knowledge and
ignorance that each character possesses, and how their situations
influence the way they interpret each other’s statements. To what
extent are we positioned to correct the misunderstanding, and to
what extent do we share the misunderstanding until we have more information?
3. How does humor work in the
novel? Select a speech made by Mr. Woodhouse, Miss Bates, or Mrs.
Elton and describe the techniques Austen uses to make these characters
look foolish. What contradictions, hypocrisies, or absurdities are
put in their mouths? To what extent do we judge these characters negatively
when we see that they are laughable?
4. Emma both
questions and upholds traditional class distinctions. What message
do you think the novel ultimately conveys about class?
5. Emma is clever but continually
mistaken, kindhearted but capable of callous behavior. Austen commented
that Emma is a heroine “no one but myself will much like.” Do you
find Emma likable? Why or why not?