Emma: The Novel & Film Comparison

By Jane Austen

Emma: The Novel

  • By the end of the novel, Harriet and Emma are not friends and never really were friends. Emma's motives were to make herself feel better by helping Harriet be more socially acceptable.
  • In the book it takes a while for Emma to realize that she loves Mr. Knightly.
  • At the end of the novel, Emma pretends to have it all together and be superior but she's called out on her act.
  • Another non-specific but very important difference are the thoughts and stated facts that are in the novel but can't really just be blurted out in the film. Like when Knightly warns Emma about Elton thinking she favors him over Knightly. Things like that just give the reader a better adaptation and understanding of the characters and the way they react to certain events.

Emma: The Film

  • At the end of the movie, it seems like Harriet and Emma are friends. The difference is significant because of the foreshadowing of what happens after the story. It's assumed after the film that after they both get married they're just going to be great friends but it is known that after the book ends they never have been and never will be friends.
  • Throughout the film there are several implications that Emma and Mr. Knightly have a thing for each other and they flirt which affects the story because the viewer already has an idea of what will happen.
  • In the film, Emma is made out as more snobby and has more of a sense of superiority that she isn't particularly called out on. The significance is that this is just one of the attributing factors that makes her more likable in the film than in the novel.
  • In the movie, Emma goes to Mrs. Weston to tell her she loves Mr. Knightley but that he might love Harriet (which does not happen in the book).