Jane Austen once referred to the title character of Emma as "a heroine whom no-one but myself will much like." She was wrong and right all at once. Emma Woodhouse is thoroughly enjoyable not because she is pleasant or good, but because she is so relatable. As landed gentry, this rural English heiress has no aristocratic title. She is a medium-sized fish in a small pond, yet Emma considers herself a social leader, and her failures as a matchmaker form the novel's plot. This petty tyrant in petticoats nevertheless contains a good deal of human nature in her girlish heart, and two centuries of readers have smiled to see Austen oh-so-gently lead her character through paths of humiliation and into maturity.