Saturday, November 24, 2012

Jane Austen's Emma: Emma's Character

Emma's Character (K.K):

One of the most important things that make Austen's novel, Emma, stands out as one of the most famous English classics is its characterization, especially the way she drew the character of Emma, the heroine. She made Emma a perfect round character, showing her advantages and disadvantages. In other words, Austen made a blend of good and bad traits and embodied them in Emma's character to make a balanced real-life character.

Emma appears from the very beginning of the novel to be kind, charming, clever, rich and highly-connected which are all good features. Her kindness and charity appears in her relationship with her relations  friends and acquaintances, especially her father and Harriet. She surrounds her father with love and care to make him forget that he misses Isabella and Miss Taylor. She is a also kind that she helps her to get into a better society and to be married well. She makes her friend and introduces her to her acquaintances and treats her with the utmost respect and civility although Harriet is much her inferior. In addition to all that, she helps a poor sick family near Hartfield. Emma is also known to be rich and highly-connected which appears as a fact in the first paragraph of the novel. Finally, Emma is also clever and charming. That is why Mr Elton describes her in his charade to have a "ready wit" and a "soft eye". Moreover, Mr Knightley confesses it to Mr Weston saying that he cannot find any fault with Emma's person, considering that she is handsome and witty. However, loneliness and intellectual solitude give a new dimension to Emma's character.

Emma shows her defects when she feels lonely after Miss Taylor's marriage; among these defects are her snobbery, her domineering personality and her self-conceit. Emma appears to be a snob from the very beginning of the novel when the narrator says, ironically, that she has a disposition to think a little too well of herself. She also thinks that every one needs her help, yet she needs no help. She has a domineering personality. For example, she controls Harriet and influences her to refuse Mr Mrtin's proposal of marriage and think of Mr Elton. Moreover, she does not care whether the match between Harriet and Mr Elton is suitable or not; however, she insists on this match. Emma is also highly self-conceited. That is clear when her fancy and imagination deceive her, thinking that Mr Elton loves Harriet when he takes her picture to be framed in London while he does that for Emma's sake.

Emma has other defects. She lacks knowledge and steadiness. That is because her conceit makes her think that she is well-read while her readings never extend beyond the first chapters of each book as her want of steadiness makes her unable to complete any work she has begun; even her drawings are all incomplete. Facing real life, Emma shows even more judgement of people. This is because she lacks insight. For example, she thinks that Mr Elton loves Harriet when he loves her. She also misguided Harriet, overestimating her and reckoning her as as equal to Mr Elton. 

Emma's hierarchical view is seen through her attitude towards Frank Churchill. She sees that if she thinks of marriage, Frank Churchill will be the best suitor for her. Although she has never met him, she thinks highly of him. Her judgment on his character is based on hierarchical values. She sees that he suits her because he belongs to the same social class. Both of them are aristocratic. The reader sees that she does not admire him because of his morals or virtues but because of his social class. Her first impression about him is favorable. She admires his cheerful conduct and vitality. Yet, she changes her attitude towards after she knows that he has suddenly gone to London merely for a haircut. Here, Emma condemns his foppish behavior  He goes down in her estimation. Then, Emma gradually loses her interest in Frank and decides not to think of him as a suitor. Later, Emma makes up mind not to encourage Frank in making any advance to court her. She discovers she is not in love with him.

Theme of irrationality + Character

When Jane Fairfax recieves a piano as a present, Emma uses her imagination in order to guess who sent this present. She guess the identity of the man who has bought this present. Emma believes that the gift of the piano must have been made by Mr Dixon. Emma expresses her suspicion that although Mr. Dixon is married to Miss Eambell, he has actually been in love with Jane. Later, she will realize that her guessing in this matter has been wrong. The reader sees that her thinking and guessing are based on fancy and unjustified reasons  Moreover, she always appears confident in her conclusions though they are baseless and devoid of rational thoughts.

Later, Emma matures gradually. She realizes her faults and flaws and admits her mistakes. She realizes that Mr. Knightley' opinions and views proves to be true. She feels ashamed of her irrationality. Her character witnesses a great change at the end of the novel. She has become more mature and rational. This is seen when she goes Miss Bates to apologizes for insulting her. She also receives a shock when Frank declares his love for Jane. She also tries to make reconciliation with Jane. 

As has been previously mentioned, Austen could successfully make a fully-round character out of Emma. This is clear throughout the novel as she manages to prove that Emma has advantages and disadvantages. In other words, she has the good and the evil, First, her good features lie in her beauty, wit, wealth and charity. Then her evils reside in her snobbery, her domineering personality and her self-conceit or deception in addition to her want of knowledge, steadiness and insight which all lead to a poor judgement of people and situation. Finally, no one can deny that Austen is a talented novelist, especially through her ingenious characterization which makes us bow respectfully to her works whenever we read them.

Emma's Character (M.K):

Emma stands apart from the other novels in at least one respect. Whereas the heroes of the other novels are to some extent disadvantaged in a worldly sense, Emma Woodhouse starts with every worldly advantage. She is 'handsome, clever, and rich,' and she has other advantages as well. One of them is that she has a high family.

The death of Emma's mother have happened too long to even to be a sad memory. Her semi-invalid father so dates on her as to resemble an amenable child. Her elder sister, Isabella, is a gentle and pliable as Mr Woodhouse and is in any case out of the way. So is her former governess, Mrs Weston, who have been a substitute mother of a kind but have always indulged Emma rather than guided her. Thus, at the age of nearly twenty-one, Emma rules her parental household and all her immediate circle. There is no one in it, except Mr Knightley, to challenge her strong will and good intelligence and on one who does not love and admire her. In addition, she is the queen of local society.

Emma , in the enjoyment of Frank's flirtation, responds to him, though never quite to the point of losing her heart. That is, she has been sure that she has succeeded in attracting Mr Elton to Harriet Smith whereas she has unintentionally attracted him to herself. Now, she is sure that Frank is drawn to herself,, when all the time he is using her as a cover for Jane Fairfax. He relies on her insight of which she is so proud to arrive at the truth. However, when he gets so far as to hint to her the real state of affairs, the attempt only confirms her in her misunderstanding. (chapter 30) 

Emma's fancy view is seen through her attitude towards Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax. She sees that if she thinks of marriage, Frank will be the best suitor for her although she has never met him. Also, when Jane Fairfax receives a piano as a present, Emma uses her imagination to guess who has sent it. Emma believes that the gift of the piano must have been from Mr Dixon who is actually married to Miss Campbell.