Trivia Quiz for “Emma” by Jane Austen

Trivia Quiz for Emma by Jane Austen (1815)

For “Classic Novels (and Movies)” book club held at Paper Boat Booksellers, Seattle, WA 3/1/20. Our first meeting.

A. History of the Novel and its Author

1. Emma: A Novel, Three Volumes in Two was published in December 1815, though the year 1816 is printed on its title page. Who was named author of the novel in that first printing?

a. Jane Austen

b. Sir Walter Scott

c. Reverend George Austen

d. Anonymous

2. Of all the characters in Emma, which family most resembles Jane Austen’s own family situation?

a. The Woodhouse family, who has “been settled for several generations at Hartfield, the younger branch of a very ancient family”.

b. The Cole family, who are “unpretending” about their “low origin” and aware that they are “only moderately genteel”.

c. The Bates family, led by the widow of Highbury’s former clergyman, Mrs. Bates, who lives with her spinster sister Miss Bates, who has “sunk from the comforts she was born to”.

d. The Martin family, members of the “yeomanry” who are not well-bred enough to deserve notice.

B. Emma: Plot and Style

3. What is the big secret revealed at the end of Emma?

a. Mr. George Knightley secretly loves Miss Emma Woodhouse (and she loves him too)

b. Mr. Frank Churchill and Miss Jane Fairfax have been secretly engaged for months

c. Mr. Martin still loves and wants to marry Harriet Smith (and she loves him too)

d. All of the above

4. Which of the following phenomena existing in 1815 are described as motivating fear and stress among the characters in Emma

a. potential of a maternal death in childbirth

b. financial ties to slavery and moral debates over abolitionism

c. bad weather

d. political and personal turmoil caused by the Napoleonic wars (1793-1815)

5-8.  Maxims, rules of conduct and value judgments

Precepts of “common-sense” and judgments are voiced by many characters, and the narrator, in Emma. Match the speakers with the statements.  The speakers include: a. Miss Emma Woodhouse; b. Mr. Woodhouse (her father); c. the narrator; d. Mrs. Elton

5. “I always say a woman cannot have too many resources—And I feel very thankful that I have so many myself.”       

6. “It may be possible to do without dancing entirely. … but when a beginning is made—when the felicities of rapid motion have once been, though slightly, felt—it must be a very heavy set that does not ask for more.”

7. “The sooner every party breaks up, the better.”

8. “I think they are, without exception the most vulgar girls in Highbury.”                 

9-10. Misunderstandings and Turning Points. Who says the following key quotes?

Characters include: a. Miss Bates; b. Harriet Smith

9. “Service! Oh! It was such an inexpressible obligation!—The very recollection of it, and all that I felt at the time—when I saw him coming—his noble look—and my wretchedness before.”

10. “’Three things very dull indeed.’ That will just do for me, you know. I shall be sure to say three dull things as soon as ever I open my mouth, shan’t I?”  


1. d. Anonymous

2. c. The situation most resembling the author’s own life is the Bates family, led by the widow of Highbury’s former clergyman, Mrs. Bates, who lives with her spinster sister Miss Bates, who has “sunk from the comforts she was born to”. That helps us grasp why the author had such deep understanding of class privilege, and what it feels like to be resourceful and worthy, yet not have privilege or rank in society. Ridicule ever haunts these characters, and social exclusion.

3. d. All of the above.

4. c. bad weather

5. d. Mrs. Elton is the one so pleased with her good fortune or “resources.” Emma thinks of her as “pert and familiar… if not foolish she was ignorant, and her society would certainly do Mr. Elton no good.” (p. 217, Penguin classics).

6. c. the narrator voices this praise of dancing, a constant theme in Austen’s novels.

7. b. Always anxious for everyone’s health, the aged Mr. Woodhouse says, “The sooner every party breaks up, the better.”                                                

8. a. Alas, it is the heroine, Miss Emma Woodhouse, who claims that a farm family, the Martins, is beneath contempt. (She will eat crow later, as is Austen’s way… though she will also break ties with her friend Harriet for marrying Mr. Martin.)       

9. b. Harriet Smith says these words, referring to the ball where Mr. Knightley danced with her. Emma thinks she is referring to the gypsy attack in the woods, where Mr. Churchill came to the rescue of Harriet and escorted her home.

10. a. Miss Bates. Knowing this character may resemble the author’s own family members, makes her blunder—and Emma’s snub—all the more painful, and she is portrayed to perfection in the recent film Emma by Miranda Hart.

After this quip, one reads: “Emma could not resist. ‘Ah! Ma’am, but there may be a difficulty. Pardon me—but you will be limited as to number—only three at once.” (300). Funny, yes, but not to poor Miss Bates. After that, everyone is upset: Miss Bates is mortified, Mr. Knightley is disgusted, and Emma must be taught a lesson before the happy ending may ensue and order be restored.


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