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The Character of Emma in Jane Austen's Emma: How she has a "mind delighted with its own ideas".

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Introduction

Chantal Fauconier 36304808 Due Date: 28 February 2005 Modular Code: ENN203-J (Please note that I was granted an extension for this assignment by Dr MJ Williams until the 28th February 2005) Assignment 01: The Character of Emma in Jane Austen's Emma: How she has a "mind delighted with its own ideas". Contents Page: Page No: Introduction 2 Main Body of Essay 2 - 6 Conclusion 6 Bibliography 7 This essay shall explore Jane Austen's novel, Emma. Jane Austen's writings were greatly influenced by the society she came from. She grew up in the Victorian era whereby the status of women was very limited. Women could not vote, they received inferior education to their male counterparts and were limited to domestic occupations (Williams in Marshall & Williams 2002:5). This is the context in which Emma was written. Emma highlights the idea that women have only two good choices in society - to get married or become a governess (Parkinson in Cookson & Loughrey 1988:24). This essay shall examine the character of Emma with particular reference to the idea that Emma has 'a mind delighted with its own ideas' (Austen 1994:19). The characters of Harriet and Jane will be used to show how Emma's ideas are often not based on reality but on her own preconceived ideas. This essay will also show how Emma later matures into a more unassuming and thoughtful woman who is able to love. ...read more.

Middle

Similarly she did not think that Harriet was of equal social standing to Mr. Martin. This shows Emma's lack of judgment and the double standards that she sets. Mr. Elton's proposal should not have been a surprise to Emma as Mr. John Knightley had indicated to Emma that he thought Mr. Elton liked her (Austen 1994:89). She had dismissed this claim and it is now proved to be true. In this instance, Emma's "elaborate suppositions" (that Mr. Elton likes Harriet) are once again proved to be false (Gibson in Cookson & Loughrey 1988:70) as they are not based on actual observations of Mr. Elton's behavior (Gill & Gregory 2003:270) . Emma's mistakes with regard to Harriet Smith lead her to examine herself. For the first time Emma begins to consider and assess her own faults. "It was foolish, it was wrong, to take such an active part in bringing any two people together. It was adventuring too far, assuming too much, making light of what ought to be serious, a trick of what ought to be simple. She was quite concerned and ashamed, and resolved to do such things no more" (Austen 1994:105). Despite this awareness however Emma has only partly learned her lesson (Williams in Marshall & Williams 2002:46). She still misperceives people's feelings, forms prejudicial attitudes about people and convinces herself that her ideas are correct (Gill & Gregory 2003:268). ...read more.

Conclusion

& Mrs. Weston. He feels that having Mr. Knightley around would lesson his fears. Emma & Mr. Knightley can thus finally get married and we see how Emma has now grown as a person. She used to interfere in other people's lives and try to make her ideas a reality. However, at the end of the novel she has now grown as a person and has finally realised the error of her ways. She even accepts the match between Harriet and Robert (something she would never have done if she had not changed). Not only has her perception changed in that she realises not to meddle anymore, she also tries to correct her faults (for instance by becoming friends with Jane and making amends to Miss Bates). She has thus learnt to be a better person - one who is worthy of the respect she is given by everyone at Highbury. This essay showed how Emma grew as a person to the point where she eventually recognised the errors of her ways, tried to correct them and finally found true happiness. Emma had to learn to accept the world as it is and not to meddle in other people's lives before she could find happiness herself. She had to let go of the ideas in her mind and realise that she cannot control people's emotions, thoughts and feelings. We thus see how Emma has transformed, learnt from her mistakes and become a better person who is no longer enchanted by the ideas of her own mind. ...read more.

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