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Misconception Of Others In Jane Austen´S Emma

840 words - 4 pages

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is and the tree is the real thing” (Good Reads). According to the President, people often mistake things for what they appear to be not for what they actually are, yet this quote also can be interpreted as to saying that people are too often judged by their reputation instead of their character. The misconception of others is a reoccurring theme in many works of literature as well as the themes of marriage and confinement of women, and society. In Jane Austen’s novel, Emma, the themes of appearance versus reality, marriage and confinement of women and social status are seen in her ...view middle of the document...

Martin, as Emma thinks. Emma proves to be wrong about her assumption that since Elton is of a higher class that he is better than Mr. Martin; which proves to be inaccurate for Elton does not love Harriet, whereas Mr. Martin never let go of his love despite her rejection. Mr. Elton is once more an example of appearance vs. reality through his false affection to Harriet and intentions to secure Emma’s hand in marriage (Knowledge Notes). Although he appears to be in love with Emma, Mr. Elton “pretended to be in love…no real affection either in his language or manners…he only wanted to aggradise and enrich himself; and if Miss Woodhouse of Hartfield, the heiress of thirty thousand pounds, were not quite so easily obtained as he had fancied, he would soon try for Miss Somebody else with twenty or with ten” (Austen, Emma 121).
Similar to Mr. Elton, Harriet also exemplifies the theme of appearance vs. reality for although she appears to benefit the most from their friendship, Harriet teaches Emma many valuable lessons critical to Emma’s growth. Austen introduces Harriet, as a girl who is of the lower class, who is not only sweet, but also guileless; and easily manipulated while Emma is independent, strong and wealthy. While Emma seems to provide Harriet succor by giving “Miss Smith all that she required…made her beautiful and easy…the attractions you have added are infinitely superior to what she received from...

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