Summary Chapter 1
Emma Woodhouse is 21 years old and has everything one could want. She has an attractive appearance, good brains, and a happy disposition. She is wealthy. Her father had two daughters that he doted upon. Emma became head of her household when her elder sister married. Emma had been primarily raised by her governess Miss Taylor, for her mother died when she was very young. Miss Taylor stayed on as a friend long after she was no longer needed as a governess.
Miss Taylor was particularly close to Emma. Emma is used to having her own way and has a high opinion of herself. The danger of both qualities loomed over her, but it was not apparent.
Emma grieves losing her friend when Miss Taylor marries Mr. Weston. Though they live nearby, Emma is aware that life changes when a woman becomes a wife. It won’t be the same as when Mrs. Weston lived with her. Emma has lost her companion. Her father is kind, but he doesn’t fulfill the role. Her sister Isabella lives in London with her husband and children. Though the Woodhouse family is well regarded in their area, and they have plenty of acquaintances, none of them are fit to fill the void.
Mr. Woodhouse also mourns the loss of Miss Taylor. He still hasn’t gotten over his elder daughter’s marriage. Emma tries to raise her spirits for his sake. She assures them they’ll visit the Westons often.
Mr. Woodhouse is cheered when Mr. Knightley visits. Mr. Knightley is a friend of the husband of Emma’s sister. He has just came back from visiting them and gives Mr. Woodhouse the news.
Mr. Knightley is one of the few people who doesn’t see Emma as a perfect person. He knows her faults and often jokes about them. Emma doesn’t always appreciate this, particularly in front of her father.
Though Emma is sorry to lose her friend, she is proud because she credits herself for making the match. It is particularly a triumph as many people believed that the widowed Mr. Weston would never remarry. She intends to play matchmaker in the future.
Mr. Knightley believes it was a lucky guess. Emma says it was she that promoted it by inviting Mr. Weston over to dinner often and smoothing over difficulties that arose.
Mr. Woodhouse doesn’t want her making any more matches, but she has already made Mr. Elton her new project. Mr. Elton moved here a year ago and has a nice house, and it is a shame that he is still single. Mr. Woodhouse and Mr. Knightley agree that Emma should invite Mr. Elton to dinner and let him choose his own wife.