Study Guide

Emma

by Jane Austen

Emma Characters

List of Characters

Emma Woodhouse—Protagonist of the novel; youngest daughter of Mr. Woodhouse and his deceased wife; sister of Isabella (Woodhouse) Knightley; mistress of Hartfield estate.

Mr. Woodhouse—Emma’s father; elderly, sedentary master of Hartfield.

Mrs. Weston (Miss Taylor)—Emma’s former governess, now friend; wife of Mr. Weston; mistress of Randalls country house.

Mr. Weston—(Captain Weston)—Retired militia; husband of Mrs. Weston; biological father of Frank Churchill; master of Randalls.

Mr. Knightley (George)—Gentleman farmer and magistrate; master of Donwell Abbey; neighbor and friend of Emma and Mr. Woodhouse.

Mr. Elton—Vicar of Highbury; young bachelor.

Harriet Smith—Illegitimate daughter of unknown persons; placed in Mrs. Goddard’s Boarding School in Highbury; befriended by Emma.

Mrs. and Miss Bates—Widow of former Vicar of Highbury and her spinster daughter; social friends of the Woodhouses; aunt and cousin of Jane Fairfax.

Jane Fairfax—Orphaned niece of Mrs. Bates; taken in by Colonel and Mrs. Campbell who undertook her education; secret fiancée of Frank Churchill.

Mr. and Mrs. Churchill—Aunt and uncle of Frank Weston Churchill whom they adopt; brother and sister-in-law to Miss Churchill, deceased first wife of Mr. Weston.

Frank (Weston) Churchill—Son of Mr. Weston and the deceased Miss Churchill; adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Churchill; brought up in fashionable London society; secret fiancé of Jane Fairfax.

Augusta (Hawkins) Elton—Social climbing wife of Mr. Elton; daughter of tradesman, eager to break into society at Highbury.

John and Isabella (Woodhouse) Knightley—Lawyer brother-in-law and sister of Emma Woodhouse; residing in Brunswick Square in London.

Robert Martin—Tenant of Abbey Mill farm, rented from Mr. (George) Knightley; fond of Harriet Smith.
Elizabeth Martin—Sister of Robert; resident of Abbey Mill; schoolfriend of Harriet.

Mr. and Mrs. Coles—Tradespeople of the village of Highbury, rising in fortune and rank to the upper middle class.

Mrs. Goddard—Mistress of a boarding school.

Mr. and Mrs. Cox—Lawyer family.

Mrs. Ford—Shopkeeper.

Mr. Perry—Pharmacist.

Emma Characters

The major plot of Knightley's pursuit and mentorship of Emma is set against the subplot of Frank Churchill's pursuit of Jane, creating a...

(The entire section is 1134 words.)

Emma Characters Discussed (Great Characters in Literature)

Emma Woodhouse

Emma Woodhouse, the younger daughter of the wealthy owner of Hartfield and the most important young woman in the village of Highbury. Good-hearted, intelligent, but spoiled, she takes under her protection Harriet Smith, a seventeen-year-old girl of unknown parentage who is at school in the village. Given to matchmaking, Emma breaks up the love affair between Harriet and Robert Martin, a worthy farmer, because she thinks Harriet deserves better; Emma persuades her to fall in love with the vicar, Mr. Elton. To her dismay, Elton proposes to her rather than to Harriet and is indignant when she refuses him. Next, Emma becomes interested in Frank Churchill, an attractive young man who visits his father in Highbury, and thinks him in love with her; but it develops that he is secretly engaged to Jane Fairfax. Emma had never really cared for Churchill, but she thinks him a possible match for Harriet. She becomes really concerned when she discovers that Harriet’s new interest is in Mr. Knightley, an old friend of the Woodhouse family. She now realizes that Knightley is the man she has always loved, and she happily accepts his proposal. Harriet marries her old lover, Martin, and the matrimonial problems are solved.

George Knightley

George Knightley, a landowner of the neighborhood, sixteen years Emma’s senior, and an old family friend. Honorable, intelligent, and frank, he has always told Emma the truth about herself. When she thinks that he may marry someone else, she realizes that she has always loved him and accepts his proposal.

John Knightley

John Knightley, George’s brother, married to Emma’s older sister.

Isabella Knightley

Isabella Knightley, nee Woodhouse, John Knightley’s wife and Emma’s sister, a gentle creature absorbed in her children.

Henry Woodhouse

Henry Woodhouse, father of Emma and Isabella, kindly and hospitable but an incurable hypochondriac.

Mr. Weston

Mr. Weston, a citizen of Highbury who has married Anne Taylor, Emma’s former governess.

Anne Weston

Anne Weston, nee Taylor, Emma’s former governess, a sensible woman whom Emma regards highly.

Frank Churchill

Frank Churchill, Mr. Weston’s son by a former marriage. He has been adopted by and taken the name of his mother’s family. His charm attracts Emma briefly, but she is not seriously interested. He is secretly engaged to Jane Fairfax.

Jane Fairfax

Jane Fairfax, a beautiful and accomplished orphan who visits her family in Highbury. Emma admires but cannot like her, finding her too reserved. The mystery of her personality is solved when it is learned that she is engaged to Churchill.

Mrs. Bates

Mrs. Bates and

Miss Bates

Miss Bates, grandmother and aunt of Jane Fairfax. Poor but worthy women, they are intolerably loquacious and boring.

Harriet Smith

Harriet Smith, the illegitimate daughter of a tradesman. Young, pretty, and impressionable, she is taken up by Emma Woodhouse, rather to her disadvantage, for Emma gives her ideas above her station. She is persuaded to refuse the proposal of Robert Martin and to believe that Mr. Elton, the vicar, is in love with her. When Elton proves to be interested in Emma, Harriet is deeply chagrined. After considering the possibility of Harriet as a match for Churchill, Emma finds to her dismay that Harriet is thinking of Knightley. This discovery makes Emma realize how much she has always loved him. After Emma and Knightley are engaged, Harriet is again proposed to by Robert Martin; she happily marries him.

Robert Martin

Robert Martin, the honest young farmer who marries Harriet Smith.

Reverend Philip Elton

Reverend Philip Elton, vicar of the parish. A conceited, silly man, he proposes to Emma Woodhouse, who has thought him in love with Harriet Smith. Emma’s refusal makes him her enemy.

Augusta Elton

Augusta Elton, née Hawkins, the woman Elton marries after being refused by Emma. She is vulgar, pretentious, and officious.