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Emmais often said to be about the "education" of its central character. Choose one or two episodes and consider ways in Which it / they contribute to her "education"

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Introduction

Emma is often said to be about the "education" of its central character. Choose one or two episodes and consider ways in Which it/they contribute to her "education" Jane Austen introduces us, the reader to a certain aspect of Emma's character right as the start, she says Emma, "seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence." The word "seemed" shows us that Emma has some lessons to learn. Not lessons in the sense of schooling, but how she develops and matures. During the novel, Emma goes through many changes in her personality. I think she is growing up, helped along by a chain of events which change her outlook on life, and on people. Almost every character in the novel helps Emma on her way along the path to becoming an adult rather than a spoilt child. However, I think the only person in the novel who takes Emma seriously is Mr. Knightly. Though she defies him on many occasions, she has a "sort of habitual respect for his judgment" and her willingness to be guided by good principles helps her to change. Life for women at the time of Emma's existence was very different to life as we know it today. For a woman then, education was about how to become a good wife and mother. There were no career women. ...read more.

Middle

Mr. Knightley is also put off by Emma's inappropriate behaviour with Frank Churchill at Box Hill. Here Emma and Frank "flirted excessively", breaking social convention, and because Mr. Knightley takes Emma seriously he believes that she is in love with Frank. Emma's cruel remark to Miss Bates, prompted by the high spirits of Frank, brings out a strong reaction from Mr. Knightley, who tells her off for this because Miss Bates is poor and has less social status. This shows his strong sense of duty and good judgment. Miss Bates also, at this point, takes Emma seriously, but has the generosity and openness to forgive her. Though at the time, Emma says it was done in jest, she later feels Mr. Knightley's words "at heart", and responds by visiting Miss Bates the next day to make up for her cruelty. The language used in the chapter is used to make Emma feel like a sinner, and she has never felt so bad. Emma's encouragement of a romance between Mr. Elton and Harriet nearly wrecks the prospective marriage between Harriet and Mr. Martin, the match which is socially right. The unfortunate illegitimacy of Harriet encourages Emma's imagination about Harriet being the daughter of a gentleman, because she is beautiful. Mr. Knightley, like the narrator, knows "Harriet is the "natural daughter of Somebody", and lucky that Mr. ...read more.

Conclusion

Knightley, and her own self scrutiny, Emma experiences a movement of psyche, from arrogance and vanity through the humiliation of self knowledge to clarity of judgment and ability to be a good wife. As the novel progresses, the reader comes to take her seriously, because of the nature of the issues addressed in the novel, and while at times we may be put off by her snobbery, Jane Austen has written in such a way so as to make us feel sorry for her. "Emma is a character neither so good as to be uninteresting, nor so wholly cruel as to forfeit our sympathy." By presenting things from Emma's point of view for the most part of the novel, the reader gets an insight into her inner thoughts and unexpressed feelings. Despite Jane Austen declaring that she would create a heroine "whom no one but myself should much like", the reader does like Emma by the end, and appreciate her ability to change for the better. There is a clear difference between Emma's character at the beginning and at the end of the novel. The main lessons Emma learns, and that are clear to the reader from the outset, are that she is like everyone else in the sense that she needs love, and companionship, to be found in marriage, and that Mr. Knightley is always right. He is her morality and keeps her on the right track. Samantha Margetts 12JST 1 ...read more.

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