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Using evidence from Volume 1, discuss Emma's strengths and weaknesses in relation to those of her family, Mr. Knightly, Harriet Smith, Mrs. and Miss Bates, Mr. Elton and the Martins.

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Introduction

Using evidence from Volume 1, discuss Emma's strengths and weaknesses in relation to those of her family, Mr. Knightly, Harriet Smith, Mrs. and Miss Bates, Mr. Elton and the Martins. Emma Woodhouse has many different qualities, both good and bad, to her disposition. The people around her instigate a number of these characteristics, while others are brought out by the society in which she lives. Jane Austen reveals these traits by using irony in situations with other characters and by building their personas alike to Emma's own, or by portraying them as the extreme opposites. Austen opens her novel with "Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition," drawing a great deal of interest to Emma's characteristics. Handsome, clever and rich can easily be perceived as good and bad traits of Emma's character. Being handsome and rich does not instantly make a person likeable. In fact, they are most likely to make a person exceedingly arrogant and selfish. Being clever can also make a person very manipulative. These are likely perceptions of her character as Emma's father is later on described as a "most affectionate, indulgent father" indicating that Emma was probably spoilt as a child. ...read more.

Middle

Austen uses a lot of irony, in situations with Harriet, to show how na�ve and unintelligent Emma can be at times. For example, Emma believes Mr. Elton to be infatuated with Harriet, when in fact he is in love with her. She never picks up on this, and any signs that Mr. Elton throws her way (for instance, telling her how beautiful her painting of Harriet is) she takes as a sign that he loves Harriet. An additional state of affairs with Harriet that uses irony to show how unintelligent Emma can be is when Harriet says to Emma "You understand everything. You and Mr. Elton are one as clever as the other." This is ironic because at this point in the novel, Emma and Mr. Elton are really being quite stupid. Emma cannot see that Mr. Elton is in love with her and not with Harriet, but Mr. Elton cannot see that Emma is not the least bit interested in him. So, Austen reveals the truth through the eyes of Harriet, by using irony once again. When Emma first meets Harriet, she thinks about how Harriet is "so artlessly impressed by the appearance of everything in so superior a ...read more.

Conclusion

He sees the real person for who they are. Mr. Knightly is almost like Emma's moral guide. He tells her the faults that she has and makes things more obvious to her. Though Emma rarely listens to him, and tries to set herself straight by telling herself that she is right. Once again Austen points out Emma's weaknesses by contrasting her to Mr. Knightly. Mr. Knightly is more mature than Emma, at thirty-seven/thirty-eight, his thoughts continuously make sense and his intentions are always honorable. By using such extreme contrasts like this, Austen outlines Emma's strengths and weaknesses throughout the whole of the first volume. She uses some characters, like Mr. Elton, to compare Emma to, as they are very similar; they are both social climbers and completely oblivious to situations around them. At the very outset of the novel where Austen presents Emma as "handsome, clever and rich" she is seen as perfect. Though after further reading of the novel it is discovered that there are more weaknesses to Emma's character than strengths. Whether Austen intended to do this or not is another matter altogether, but her portrayal of Emma's character through situations with others is highly amusing and thoroughly entertaining. Charlotte Jackson ...read more.

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