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Jane Austen said of Emma 'she is a character who no-one but myself will much like.' Examine the idea of Emma as a likeable character.

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Introduction

Emma - Jane Austen~ Jane Austen said of Emma 'she is a character who no-one but myself will much like.' Examine the idea of Emma as a likeable character. On deciding my opinion of Emma from what I have perceived of her, I took into account the different influences when reading it. In the period when the book was written, the character of Emma would have been disliked by the audience whoever read it in Austen's time would have felt she is headstrong and could have been seen as a woman who rebels against society. This is shown in the novel when she is speaking to Mr. Elton and refusing his proposal, "believe me, sir, I am far, very far, from gratified in being the object of such professions." In this time women were influenced by society to marry for wealth in order to secure their future. The author's opinion on Emma is "she is a character who no-one but myself will much like." However these very same characteristics would be viewed by the modern world as acceptable because more women in today's society are found to be more independent and are headstrong. Reading through the book at different points, we can see the many flaws and strengths Emma has a character. As a reader we notice how she is a loyal friend and considerate both towards Harriet and her father Mr. woodhouse. But we also see how she can be manipulative to Harriet and thoughtless to miss bates "it was as much as Emma could bare without being impolite." The idea of the author describing the situation by using the bare would suggest to us that the predicament she is in; to her is something very bad and difficult to get out. The reason the author chose this was to get the readers to understand what Emma's feelings are at that point, being there and listening to miss bates, at this point I empathize with Emma, she is being patronizing but polite towards miss bates. ...read more.

Middle

The position of Emma's character in the social hierarchy is that she is a daughter from a father who is a substantial land owner. She has been brought up in a well to do family, who has a history of wealth which they are flourishing in. It is from this situation that Emma has formed her opinions, on the 'old' times and is distasteful to people who have recently come into money, due to the society shake up. When a woman, such as Emma is born into high society, she is expected to help the less fortunate, by attending to them and giving them food, which improves her character and it, is thought by doing this, it will help her have a better profile when marrying. Readers in Austin's period would agree with Emma helping the less fortunate, however in our society we would respect this charitable act. Although, the mentioning of the poor and needy, conditions in their time were largely missed out of the novel. But Austin writes of one visit to the poor, which is to heighten Emma's charity due to her command of the narrative. This is shown when Emma and Harriet pay a visit to Miss Bates house and offer help, also the topical issues such as social structures are held to irony and exaggeration. Because Emma is expected to be charitable she is also predicted to be nice to those lower in the social status such as Miss Bates. However, because of Emma's view on the resent monies and the people who have reaped the benefits and become rich, Emma acts pleasantly towards them, but in our society we would class that as an insult and snobbery. "With the father who is affectionate and indulgent" towards Emma. Would help us to understand Emma's view on certain things; possibly it is the father who has enforced the established ideas on Emma. ...read more.

Conclusion

Harriet smith is seen as Emma's project and a "lady of unknown birth." She is more in charge of her heart then Emma. Throughout the novel the readers can clearly see that both Emma and Harriet are close friends; Emma is very considerate of Harriet and loyal. In chapter 7 Emma influences Harriet on rejecting Mr Martin's proposal because Emma fears for Harriet's financial situation when marrying Mr Martin. This could be seen in two different ways as it shows emma trying to good friend as she thinks of Harriet's future however some readers may think this hypocritical of Emma; after reading the book and looking back at this point once Emma has declared she will marry for love and not money but advises Harriet to marry for money and not love. Austen is trying to comment on a society interested in social structures not values and personality. With mrs Elton she marries for money even though she is quite wealthy whereas mr martin who doesn't seem to care about the social structures or the social statuses involved he wishes to marry for love. Emma has many flaws and weaknesses and suffers from humility (chapter 43, criticism from mr knightly) and self knowledge both of which she lacks at first but through the novel she gains in her journey in adulthood. One of her weaknesses is that she manipulative in chapter 7 on influencing harriets decision but could be seen as caring for harriets future. She is shown to be thoughtless towards miss bates but might be turned into emma being headstrong and not following a trend with others. I generally think emmas character means well in what she does throughout the novel. I see emma as a genuine character because she has flaws in her personality which are resolved but because they are I don't find her as interesting in towards the end of the novel. From a person of 100 years ago when the book was written I would say that they would've have liked emmas character because of her flaws and the way they are displayed to the reader. ...read more.

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