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

Jane Austen - Emma"I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like" How does this comment by Jane Austen fit with your reading of her presentation of Emma?

Extracts from this document...


Jane Austen: Emma "I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like" How does this comment by Jane Austen fit with your reading of her presentation of Emma? Today, we can interpret this remark as the recognition of a problem that was to be successfully overcome, instead of looking at it as an accurate prediction. Readers like the author's niece, Fanny Knight, who could "not bear Emma herself" have been in the minority. Most readers, myself included, have liked Emma Woodhouse and the novel that bears her name. It is an intricate, complex and perfectly achieved work that takes an apparently trivial matter - "3 or 4 Families in a Country Village", in Austen's famous phrase - and makes it captivating, involved and rich with meaning. During this essay I intend to outline what Jane Austen means by "heroine", and explain how Emma fits this title. I shall explore why Austen feels her character will not be liked, and yet what defies these intentions and regardless encourages the generally felt affection towards Emma. Jane Austen nurtures many issues during her novel, I need to examine them, and decide on their relevance to the characters position. Jane Austen's use of 'heroine' in her comment outlines who the chief character of the story is, in this book we immediately discover its Emma Woodhouse. The book is justly named Emma, as the whole thing is Emma. There is only one short scene where Emma herself is not on stage; and that one scene is Knightley's conversation about her with Mrs Weston, proving she has a very dominant role. ...read more.


There is a special element of irony in this statement. Even as Austen has Emma relinquish the strategies of matchmaking, Austen condemns her heroine to continue thinking social relationships over and over again, repeating her misreading of sexual relations throughout the book. This is to emphasis the dislike we should be feeling towards Emma. Her complacent manner should evoke a feeling of frustration, instead, in my opinion, we see the funny side, predicting the outcome of Emma's actions, and knowing it's destined to go disastrously wrong. Emma's exclusive attention to marriage plots of her own devising is consistent with her inability to enter into a relation of equality with other women. Her obsession with arranging marriages distorts the relationship with her good friend Harriet Smith, and blinds her from other relational possibilities. The connection with Mrs Weston was never based on equality, she is grateful to her governess/friend for her guidance and education, the relationship is lacking in true parity. The great attraction of Harriet, beyond her blonde beauty and easily swayed temper, was that "everything" could be done for her. Emma's failure to bond with Jane Fairfax (her exact equal in age, abilities and sense) could also to a certain extent be due to her preoccupation with the marriage plot. Friendship between women is necessarily difficult in this period where the aim is to accomplish a husband. Rivalry for a husband of authority and worthiness is visible. Mrs Elton's marriage puts her into competition with all other women in her society and gives her precedence even over Emma Woodhouse; this makes her liable to judgement: "She did not really like her. ...read more.


Her constant strength and vitality are alluring, and bring energy to the book. Emma's an imaginist "on fire with speculation and foresight", giving her a playful, fun appearance, another beneficial quality. Lastly, Emma is bright girl, meaning we don't question her intelligence when things go wrong, just her naivety. She was never deceived about her sexual feelings during the book, and never deceived herself into feeling emotions that weren't there like Harriet seemed to. This emphasised her maturity, and made me, as the reader, value her actions and opinions more then, for example, Harriet's. In the book Emma seems to get everything and everyone wrong, yet her vulnerability is strangely attractive, and is one reason for my approval of her. The much irony directed at her is setting her up to be judged, irony in itself, as she is usually the one doing the judging. What she often thinks of other people is commonly true for her, and therefore classes her on the same level as everyone else. She is the heroine of the book, and proves so with conviction and success. However, to be a disliked heroine is mistaken. Because the book is told from her view constantly, allowing us to understand the character, and sympathise with her wrongdoings instead of judging her for them. Despite foreseeing when something is going to go wrong, we assume it will all turn out okay in the end, and predict there can only be a happy conclusion. Her officiousness and capacity for deluding herself only bulk out the story to make it more exhilarating, while also making Emma a fully rounded character, one which most readers cannot deny, like very much indeed. ...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 ...

    he loves her though Emma disagrees, she does not fully understand and produces misguidance. She suspects that one of his sisters must have written the letter for him. Emma's interest is not in Robert Martin's manners, but his status, again status being important when concerning marriage.

  2. Katherine Mansfield's Presentation of Happiness 'Bliss' and 'The Little Governess' are two short stories ...

    Bertha has not recently enjoyed sex with her husband, and has probably never had pre-marital sex, which is another way in which Katherine Mansfield explores happiness, with 'sex as bliss'. Bertha also obtains sensual pleasure from hugging her child. She describes physical happiness in her 'exquisite toes' and her 'neck as she bent forward'.

  1. Each of the 4 settings in the novel persuasion by Jane Austen holds a ...

    Emphasising the content atmosphere At Uppercross many of the attitudes of the characters develop but in particular the character of Anne is most evident. She from an unacknowledged charter has become everyone's confidant and mediator 'she was only Anne', 'Miss Anne you shall be able to set things right'.

  2. In Emma Jane Austen exposes the limitations of the role of women in her ...

    Though she is attempting to join Mr. Elton and Harriet together, her plan goes dreadfully wrong, ending with a proposal from the vicar, to Emma herself. She refuses his proposal, and hurts Harriet greatly. She does not truly see of her wrong doings, and continues to load her friends head with nonsense of her being socially worthy to gain an admirable, respectable husband.

  1. Discuss the function of setting in the presentation of Jane Austen's main concerns in ...

    However for Emma, a member of higher class this was different, as it is shown, she was educated by Miss Taylor as would all member s of upper class be tutored at home. Through out the novel there are marriage agreements and suitors made and discussions between characters of "equal

  2. How far do you agree with the critic that argues there are two Darcys?

    with whom any intercourse a few months ago would have been a disgrace'. His proposal scene, though perhaps partly excusable, does limit our sympathy towards the man however, as it was dealt with in such an insulting manor. He clumsily opens with the confession 'in vain I have struggled ...

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

    I hope to be able to make some conclusions about the use and importance of the outdoors in the novel. For many of the novel's characters, there seems to be a parallel between their attitude towards the outdoors and the way they relate to themselves and others.

  2. How successfully does Jane Austen use different styles of writing to convey a range ...

    which accentuates the need, in the late 18th and early 19th century, for women to find a wealthy man in order to have a stable future.

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