Austen’s idiosyncratic punctuation, that system of exclamation marks and dashes, allows for a kind of dramatised thought process. Yet because it is still in the third person, we can judge Emma even as we share her thoughts. She is a person worth our sympathy because she is capable of acknowledging and feeling sorry for her mistakes. But, by the unprecedented subtlety of Austen’s narrative technique, we sense that Emma regrets the scotching of her plans (“Such an overthrow of everything she had been wishing for!”) as much as (or more than?) the impending pain for Harriet. We can even hear her trying to persuade herself (“she would gladly have submitted … ”) of her unselfishness.
But perhaps the most intriguing of the recent updates are the post-colonial Emmas who collectively signal a cultural reinvention of Austen far beyond the Anglophone world. Hanabusa Yoko produced a Manga version of Emma, distributed by Tokyo-based Ohzora Publishing under their Romance Comics imprint. And in Aisha (2010), Indian director Rajshree Ojha relocates Highbury to Dehli to generate yet another contemporary Emma seemingly afflicted by the problem of “Austen-tacious” consumption, pursuing, among other things, an obsession with western fashion labels from Prada to Dior.