• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Emma Woodhouse and Mr. Woodhouse Analysis.

Extracts from this document...


Emma Woodhouse and Mr. Woodhouse Analysis Both Emma Woodhouse and her father have a good deal of sway over the lives and affairs of the other members of their community. In the first scene of the book, we learn that Mr. Woodhouse finds homes for maids in other households, while Emma does essentially the same for her acquaintances, in attempting to pair them off with husbands and wives. The narrator presents this overzealous concern for other people's well being as an entirely harmless characteristic, in Mr. Woodhouse at least. While his intrusions into the personal lives of even non-family relations and frequent effusions of worry are bothersome to readers and characters alike, Mr. Woodhouse never actually does anyone the slightest bit of real or lasting harm. Even Mr. John Knightley cannot stay mad at him for very long. Emma, on the other hand, is capable of doing real personal damage, and her wilful intrusions into the lives of her acquaintance are presented as arrogant presumption - her character's major flaw: "The real evils of Emma's situation [are] the power of having rather too much of her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself." (4) The key difference between her acts of presumption and those of her father is that she has a stronger will and mind than he. ...read more.


(46) Even in comparison to her sister, Emma has the "stronger hand." (241) In truth, Emma is wholly worthy of most of the praise bestowed upon her throughout the book. The most obvious example would be her "ready wit," (66) which Mr. Elton cites in his charade. The obvious problem with Emma's ready wit, though, and all her other powers, is that they are so often put to bad use. Where Mr. Woodhouse's social power is always proved to be harmless, Emma is the one with the potent hands that can at times wreak havoc. At the party at Box Hill, Emma "cannot resist" (342) making a derisive comment to Miss Bates, simply because it is too "clever" to be kept in. The sole extenuating circumstance here (though it is one based on Emma's arrogance) is that she may not have anticipated its full effect - "I dare say she did not understand me." (346) But Emma's misuse of her own power of understanding is evident. The remark is both consciously derisive and deliberately aimed, and the evident pain it causes Miss Bates brings home the reality that Emma's understanding at that moment has become more limited than Miss Bates'. Moreover, the impact of the harm extends both beyond the present moment and beyond the single personal relationship, revealing that unlike her father, Emma has the power to do real lasting damage. ...read more.


Emma's ability to reflect and feel powerfully is what fuels her self-transformation once she directs that power inwards to observe her own heart instead of outwards to mold other people and events. It takes only the right catalyst, namely Mr. Knightley, for Emma to become able to realize her own wrongdoing. She responds to his reprimands about her treatment of Miss Bates, not with the defensiveness of someone truly arrogant but with "anger against herself, mortification, and deep concern." (347) A similar moment of realization and self-chastisement comes at the first big climax of the book, when Emma learns of Harriet's love for Mr. Knightley and realizes her own: "with insufferable vanity had she believed herself in the secret of everybody's feelings; with unpardonable arrogance proposed to arrange everybody's destiny." (383) Emma proves herself capable of the character revolution which her father is not when she gives up her own pretensions to judge the best interests of others. The fact that it is Knightley who sparks Emma' reformation of character might seem to give ultimate power to him rather than to Emma herself. After all, his intrusion into her personal life ends up being the most positive force of the book. But it is important to keep in mind that Knightley is only a catalyst, a stand-in for the author's criticism of Emma's flaws, while Emma shares something like the role of the author herself. Like the playwright or novelist, she learns through trial and error the limitations of power exercised in trying to create and dictate the course of other people's lives. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Jane Austen section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Jane Austen essays

  1. How does Jane Austen present the themes of love and marriage in the novel ...

    This is a turning point in Emma's behaviour. Although she has thought ill of a number of Highbury residents, this is the first time in which Emma does not behave politely to one of them. This parallels the events of the last chapter, in which Mr Knightly acts as the voice of propriety and good manners.

  2. An exploration of Jane Austen's use of the outdoors in Emma

    She then tries to leave the two alone together as they walk home by pretending to break her shoelace, perhaps hoping that the beauty of the countryside and the comparative solitude it affords might bring her friends' feelings into the open.

  1. Jane Austen said of Emma 'she is a character who no-one but myself will ...

    it to the time the book was written; over the years women have grown more independent and it is seems clearly in our society. Women are seen to be more head strong and focused for what they are aiming for in life, and the character of Emma enforces this.

  2. The Character of Emma in Jane Austen's Emma: How she has a "mind delighted ...

    is not aware of even her own emotions and intentions (for example she does not realise that she loves Mr. Knightley until Harriet starts showing feelings towards him), so how can she be aware of the intentions of others? One instance of Emma's misconception is her belief that she can

  1. How does Emma's management of Harriet's affairs reveal the important issues in Jane Austen's ...

    In this sense, Emma is very na�ve and shows how she misjudges situations. Mr Martin is of a higher social class than Harriet and also has more money. Here Emma is misusing her patronage. A further theme of the novel is patronage and how Emma abuses it.

  2. Argue that the theory of common sense structures provides an important and hitherto unappreciated ...

    phenomena', of `physical bodies' and of `physico-scientific reality' and which draw not only on Carnap and others in the Vienna Circle but also on K�hler.(12) And they include the formal theories of temporal and biological concepts developed by Woodger, and the various systems of realistic formal ontology that have been developed on a Leniewskian or Husserlian basis in subsequent decades.

  1. Jane Austen (1775 -1817) Emma (1816) Jane Austen wrote of 'Emma'; "I am going ...

    This does not improve one's view on Emma. I think Austen considers Emma; overall to be a good, kind hearted person, who just happens to make some mistakes. When Mr. Martin proposes to Harriet, Emma pretends to be 'uninvolved' but she is actually putting pressure on Harriet not to marry him, by refusing to visit them if she

  2. show how you respond to Austen's presentation of balls and other social events in ...

    Conversely, when Emma and Mr. Elton are alone in the carriage, returning home, the change in conduct insights readers to the true colours of the character concerned. Previously, Mr. Elton seemed "so anxious for" Emma, demonstrating agitating behaviour, explaining the true exposition of Mr.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work