Emma Study Guide (Choose to Continue)


Emma: Top Ten Quotes

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  1. "And you have forgotten one matter of joy to me, said Emma, and a very considerable one--that I made the match myself.  I made the match, you know, four years ago; and to have it take place, and be proved in the right, when so many people said Mr. Weston would never marry again, may comfort me for anything (9).  Emma says this to Mr. Knightley and her father about the marriage of Miss Taylor and Mr. Weston.  This quote gives the reader a hint of Emma's character, and a glimpse of the major marriage and matchmaking themes of the novel.
  2. the wedding-cake, which had been a great distress to him, was all ate up.  His own stomach could bear nothing rich, and he could never believe other people to be different from himself.  What was unwholesome to him he regarded as unfit for anybody; and he had, therefore, earnestly tried to dissuade them from having any wedding-cake, at all, and when that proved vain, as earnestly tried to prevent anybody's eating it (16).  This is an example of one of Mr. Woodhouse's eccentricities, which make him a comic character in Emma.  He also encourages people to eat gruel for supper and not to go out at night.
  3. She would notice her; she would improve her; she would detach her from her bad acquaintances, and introduce her into good society; she would form her opinions and her manners.  It would be an interesting, and certainly a very kind undertaking; highly becoming her own station in life, her leisure, and powers (21).  This quote shows how Emma thinks about her new friend Harriet, and how she plans to 'help' her.  Emma does indeed try to form Harriet's opinions for a while, and Harriet lets her.
  4. Dear Harriet, I give myself joy of this.  It would have grieved me to lose your acquaintance, which must have been the consequence of your marrying Mr. Martin...I could not have visited Mrs. Robert Martin, of Abbey-Mill Farm (48).  This quote illustrates how much Emma is affected and concerned about society, as she does not hide the fact that she cannot keep friends in lower stations.  It also shows the extent to which Harriet looks to Emma for advice, as she refuses Mr. Martin because she knows this is what Emma wants.
  5. You have been no friend to Harriet Smith, Emma (57).  Mr. Knightley says this to Emma after he realizes that she has persuaded Harriet not to marry Mr. Martin.  He knows that Mr. Elton will not marry Harriet, and that it is better if Harriet is not taught to look to those more superior than she is, especially considering her uncertain parentage.
  6. "I thank you; but I assure you, you are quite mistaken.  Mr. Elton and I are very good friends, and nothing more, and she walked on, amusing herself in the consideration of the blunders which often arise from a partial knowledge of circumstances, of the mistakes which people of high pretensions to judgment are for every falling into...(104).  Emma says this to, and thinks this about, her brother-in-law John Knightley after he comments on how good-natured Mr. Elton is towards her.  This sentence is one example of the many instances of irony in the novel, because indeed it is Emma that will make the blunder.
  7. Oh, that I had been satisfied with persuading her not to accept young Martin.  There I was quite right: that was well done of me; but here I should have stopped, and left the rest to time and chance (126).  Emma thinks this after it is clear that Mr. Elton will not marry Harriet.  She regrets meddling in Harriet's life to an extent, but it seems impossible that she will regret all of her interference or that she will be able to stop interfering. 
  8. "My dear Mrs. Weston, do not take to match-making.  You do it very ill" (205).  Emma says this after Mrs. Weston has suggested that Mr. Knightley might be in love with Jane.  It is one of the many examples of irony in the novel, as Emma is the one who is not good at match-making.
  9. Why was it so much worse for that Harriet should be in love with Mr. Knightley than with Frank Churchill? Why was the evil so dreadfully increased by Harriet's having some hope of a return? It darted through her with the speed of an arrow that Mr. Knightley must marry no one but herself! (375).  Here Emma realizes that she is in love with Mr. Knightley.
  10. Her own conduct, as well as her own heart, was before her in the same few minutes.  She saw it all with a clearness that had never blessed her before.  How improperly had she been acting by Harriet! How inconsiderate, how indelicate, how irrational, how unfeeling, had been her conduct! What blindness, what madness had led her on! (375).  Emma realizes that she had indeed not been a friend to Harriet, as Mr. Knightley had said.  She realizes how foolish it was of her to try to meddle in other people's romantic affairs when she did not even realize her own feelings for Mr. Knightley.


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