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'Emma' Essay- "In the world of 'Emma' the women are shallow and the men are wimps"

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Year 10 English Semester 2 Writing Task Topic: 'In the world of Emma the women are shallow and the men are wimps' In the novel Emma (1816) by Jane Austen, the female characters are conceited and the male characters are timid. It is clearly recognisable that the female protagonist as well as other prominent characters in the text, adhere to these negative gender stereotypes. These particular traits are most noticeable in the characters Emma Woodhouse, Augusta Elton, Emma's father Mr Woodhouse and Frank Churchill. The novel's central character Emma Woodhouse is a selfish "rich girl" who has been brought up in a world of luxury 'with very little to distress or vex her'. She has grown up with a father who refuses to see any fault in his daughter and Mrs Weston, her childhood governess, who has catered to her every need and want. Being brought up in this environment has encouraged Emma to hold a high opinion of herself in her home of 'Highbury, the large and populous village almost amounting to a town', which according to Emma, 'afforded her no equals'. In her constant pursuit of matchmaking Emma chooses Harriet Smith ('a girl of seventeen whom she knew very well by sight and had long felt an interest in, on account of her beauty') ...read more.


During the meeting, the narrator illustrates Emma's views on Mrs Elton: '...the quarter of an hour quite convinced her that Mrs Elton was a vain woman, extremely well satisfied with herself, and thinking much of her own importance; that she meant to shine and be very superior' Despite Emma's flaws and bias, we are encouraged to share her opinions on other characters in the text, thus we form the same judgement. Mrs Elton explains in their first conversation that it did not matter to her how much Mr Elton owned or could supply her with as her own qualities were sufficient: "Blessed with so many resources within myself, the world was not necessary to me... to those who had no resources it was a different thing; but my resources made me quite independent." To deem oneself complete without materials or the company of others, is to be vain and snobbish. Mr Woodhouse, Emma's father, is shown to be overcautious, unconfident and wimpish. He regularly frets that anyone who is outdoors or near a breeze should catch a cold even if the weather is fine. The idea of someone standing a likelihood of becoming the slightest bit ill is enough to make Mr Woodhouse feel quite uneasy. ...read more.


Frank openly flirts with Emma, particularly at the Box Hill picnic, later claiming it was a decoy to keep his engagement confidential: 'Frank Churchill grew talkative and gay, making her (Emma) his first object...in the judgement of most people looking on it must have had such an appearance as no English word but flirtation could very well describe. "Mr Frank Churchill and Miss Woodhouse flirted together excessively." They were laying themselves open to that very phrase.' In a letter to Mrs Weston towards the end of the novel, Frank says that his playfulness with Emma was unacceptable: "In order to assist a concealment so essential to me, I was led on to make more than an allowable use of the sort of intimacy into which we were immediately thrown." Frank's actions lead me to see him a coward. That he would not admit to his aunt his love or engagement to Jane, let alone flirt with another woman (Emma) in front of his fianc´┐Że, claiming it to be a "concealment", demonstrates not the slightest strength of character or masculinity. Frank Churchill is a wimp to hide behind a red herring, only injuring another's (Jane) feelings in the process. In the world of Emma the male characters defy their racial stereotype, demonstrating less than masculine attributes while the female characters are openly overconfident about their importance in society. Word Count: 1 290 Natalie Meyer ...read more.

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