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Emma By Jane Austen Essay

1378 words - 6 pages

Emma is more unpleasant than appealing. Discuss with reference to the
first 9 chapters

Essay: ‘Emma’

The first line of the novel ‘Emma’, by Jane Austen, claims Emma to be
‘handsome, clever, and rich’, this sums up Emma’s character
completely. It is important to list these first of all, for fear of
the reader to immediately dislike her. Indeed, later on-on the first
page, Emma’s faults are listed, claiming her to have too much of her
own way and herself thinking very highly of herself. Emma’s
stubbornness and vanity is mostly the centre of a majority of the
novels conflicts, as throughout the novel, Emma attempts to develop
emotionally. Austen also portrays Emma’s weaknesses in more subtle
ways, she says although befriending Miss. Smith as good for Emma
because she has someone to talk to and to keep her company, but then
hints that it would have been better for Emma to have had a governess,
or a friend that met her intellectually, because Miss. Smith cannot
meet her in intellect, it is, Emma’s ability to mould her new friend.
This is one of Austen’s techniques; this will be discussed later in
this essay.

In the first chapter, when her governess leaves the household when she
marries, Emma has mixed feelings on the subject, on one hand, she
feels she has lost a best friend, as the person who has acted more as
her mother, than any other, has left; Miss Taylor’s attitude towards
Emma, was as quoted,

“…and who had such an affection for her as could never find fault”

This just goes to show where Emma would get her selfish mannerism
from. It was a very close relationship the two shared, secrets were
told and friendship and trust was passed between the two. This would
show Emma as being human, at least, although, later on in the chapter
her faults are described, she is shown by Austen to have genuine
feelings, and it’s only natural for one to feel upset when they lose
the total devotion of a friend. Apart from feeling upset that Miss
Taylor has left, Emma is also upset for her own sake, she is upset
that she has no companion in the house and, believes that her
father-the only other person that lives in the house-cannot stimulate
Emma in conversation mainly because he is senile and doesn’t meet Emma
at an intellectual level.

The description of Emma in the beginning of this novel can instantly,
for the reader, decide whether they are going to like her or not,
obviously as her mannerisms are unveiled throughout the first three or
so chapters, but the first description of Emma is enough to decide
ones mind of her instantly. The fact that she is beautiful, clever and
rich leads the reader to image Emma Woodhouse as being fairly high in
society, but yet, her real self is not revealed. Emma’s real self
however, is described perfectly with the line

‘…did not by any means rank as misfortunes with her’

Here, Austen uses her subtlety to tell the audience that, Emma, for
all her graces, cannot see her...

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