There is a girl so handsome and well off
Her name is known throughout society
Her wit you’d never ever deign to scoff
No one possesses such a will as she

Of marriage, she would never think to do
Her independent nature is her forte
But people, Emma tends to misconstrue
Of love, a young girl’s mind she did distort

High class, is she, and much superior
Woodhouse, her name, with much authority
But prideful, she sees all inferior
She views herself as the priority

Her rival, Jane, is lovely and can sing
Is jealousy or envy here in play?
With disdain her words can’t help but ring
But sympathy, she can’t help but convey

Our girl is flawed, that much we clearly know
But she is full of opportunity
To truly learn from her mistakes and grow
Soon we’ll see just the person that she’ll be


L6: “forte” is a spondee (I think, because of the 2 heavy stresses), which makes the iamb a little awkward, so pretend it’s a silent “e” when reading
L7: “people” is not my way of addressing you, the reader, but a reference to the people in general that she misjudges
L10: “Woodhouse” is also a spondee, to emphasize the importance of her name and the class that it implies
L13: While we haven’t seen anyone outright call them rivals, there is certainly some sort of consciousness in Emma’s mind about the two of them as having some sort of rivalry
L15: “With dis[dain]” also spondee and not 10 syllables. I couldn’t make it work 🙁
L16:  “sympathy” is sympathy for Jane, as part of the sort of bipolar feelings that Emma holds towards her.

I tried my best to make the poem iambic pentameter. When thinking about what to write, I immediately thought of Emma’s character and the events that have happened in the novel so far based on her personality. In the beginning of the novel, I really didn’t like Emma, especially while reading her continuous attempt to bring Harriet and Mr. Elton together. I now realize that while Emma is definitely flawed, she does have some redeeming qualities, such as the fact that she actually cares for Harriet. I look forward to seeing how Emma’s character changes (or doesn’t change) in the end.

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5 thoughts on “Emma

  1. Sunjida Ema

    This is a great poem and you were able to capture the central attributes of Emma in this short poem. The fourth stanza is the most interesting piece because you were able to convey the contradiction and duality of Emma’s character. She cannot help but show “disdain” and “sympathy” for Jane or any other character she and we as readers see her come upon. the ” can’t help”part are an interesting choice of words because we as readers must take into consideration her upbrining, society, her family and friends that molded her to be the person she turned out to be. The question that arises for me is, is her nature, behavior and how she acts excusable? Does it justify her action on how she meddles and believes it is her duty to “help” Harriet and act with “disdain” towards Jane?

  2. Angela

    This is a vivid and interesting interpretation of Emma’s character. I feel you captured her essence and entertained the reader as well. Extremely thoughtful notes. Your poem helped me to like Emma just a little more. She is a multidimensional character, but at times it is difficult to ignore her flaws.

  3. alixg

    I really enjoyed reading your poem! Two lines that caught my eye were “No one possesses such a will as she” and “Of love, a young girl’s mind she did distort” because they related to a thought that I myself had while reading Volume I. The whole scene in Chapter VI surrounds Emma trying to paint a portrait of Harriet and Mr. Elton fawning over the portrait, but on a deeper level I thought Emma was not only physically painting but also metaphorically painting. In other words, Emma is arranging Harriet and Mr. Elton to act as she pleases and so as to get the result, the final portrait so to speak, that she envisions of them being in love. Emma uses Harriet as a new canvas upon which to paint the colors that she best sees fit. A line that best sums up Emma’s role as metaphorical painter is Mr. Elton’s comment on Harriet’s actual persona that “the attractions you have added are infinitely superior to what she received from nature” (31).

    Alix Greenberger

  4. David Ginsberg

    Great poem. I feel you chose a clever and original way to comment on the reading. Adding iambic pentameter was a very nice touch.
    I feel that you’ve summed up Emma’s character well – much more succinctly than Jane Austen is able.
    Although Emma means well, she is an insufferable character, rivaled only by her annoying father.
    Good job.

    1. lauragonzaga

      Of marriage, she would never think to do
      Her independent nature is her forte
      But people, Emma tends to misconstrue
      Of love, a young girl’s mind she did distort

      This is my favorite stanza of your poem. I admire Emma’s independence and her unwillingness to marry without first being truly in love. She does not want to marry simply because it is the norm of her society but only if she encounters someone who she feels is an adequate match. I don’t blame Emma for her flaws – we all have flaws one way or another. Ultimately, I think she means well and that is what carries her through.

      Laura Gonzaga

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