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Theme Of Transformation In Emma Essay

1178 words - 5 pages

What makes someone change? The world is filled with people who transform into a better self, either through changing corrupt ways or realizing mistakes. Jane Austen’s Emma is a Victorian novel analyzing the evolution of the once prideful and arrogant Emma Woodhouse into a more humble and respectable woman who is capable of marriage and adulthood. Harold Bloom describes Emma as “immensely likeable, because she is so extraordinarily imaginative, dangerous and misguided as her imagination frequently must appear to others and finally to herself”1. Through her mistakes as an unreasonably imaginative woman, the theme of transformation is clear in Emma through the evolution of Emma’s initial pride, neglect, and understanding into a sudden period of realization.
Emma Woodhouse’s pride is one of the most noticeable flaws in her original state. In her time period, it is rare for an educated woman to be openly independent in high-class society, and the Emma’s acknowledgement of this makes her pride “herself on her own elegance and ‘understanding’” that she becomes “obsessed with her superiority and importance” (Paris)2, and her misunderstood superiority becomes deceptive in a way that affects her general behavior. Because of her supposed “superiority”, Emma “overrates her capacities and is too confident of her knowledge, judgment, and perception” (Paris)3. This high-class behavior also affects her arrogance that makes “her vanity [lie] another way” (Austen 31)4. This behavior, however, is not entirely at Emma’s fault because her father, her tutor, and her society deem her as excellent. Emma Woodhouse has the opportunity to become disciplined, but “Emma has not been encouraged by her lot in life to acquire the discipline and self-knowledge that, augmenting her innate intelligence and taste, would help her to choose wisely” (Graham)5. Harold Bloom states that Emma “[h]aving rather too much her own way is certainly one of Emma’s powers, and she does have a disposition to think a little too well of herself” (Bloom 10)6. One of her closest friends, near the beginning of the novel, establishes that “[w]ith all dear little Emma’s faults, she is an excellent creature” (Austen 31)7. Because of her own behavior and society’s behavior towards her, Emma becomes a woman “in which seriousness and vanity are so intertwined in her thoughts and behavior” (Goodheart)8 that she misinterprets others’ actions into a more narcissistic perspective.
In order to feel useful and remain a dominant figure in her social hierarchy, Emma Woodhouse’s narcissism reflects her general excuse to become a matchmaker. “In her wish to be useful she is patronizing and a little presumptuous; herself sufficiently early appears, and there are hints of her willingness to shape the future of others without having past enough of her own to enable her to do it judiciously” (Howells 8)9. This narcissism is clear in all of her actions for “[h]er need to reinforce and to protect this pride leads her to be...

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