Jane Austen's "Emma" - Character Analysis of Protagonist

1665 Words Feb 3rd, 2011 7 Pages
Emma Woodhouse: Awake or Dreaming?

A dream. A world where ideas run wild and imagination is the primary mode of thought. Reality is a faraway distance. Eventually, the dream comes to an end as reality creeps into sleep and the fantasy finishes. The story of Jane Austen’s Emma is one of a similar account. Emma Woodhouse, the main character, has an active imagination that causes her to loose sight of reality like getting lost in dreaming. Her imagination and “disposition to think a little too well of herself” causes Emma to be emotionally arrogant and skews her perception of other characters (Austen, 1). Throughout the novel, Emma struggles to develop emotionally because her dream-derived visions of those around her and her obsession with
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She even goes so far as keeping Harriet from marrying Mr. Martin, who both truly loves her and is closer to her in social status. While it is ultimately Harriet’s choice to decline Mr. Martin, Emma uses her popularity to influence the decision. “[T]hough Emma continued to protest against any assistance being wanted [from Harriet], it was in fact given in the formation of every sentence” (34). Caught up in her self-appointed role as cupid, Emma ignores the possibility that Harriet and Mr. Martin could ever live happily together. Upon hearing of Harriet’s rejection to Mr. Martin, Knightley suspects Emma’s attempt to produce a match between Harriet and Mr. Elton. He warns Emma about the unlikelihood of Mr. Elton reducing himself to Harriet’s inferior position through marriage. While his warning causes Emma to momentarily doubt herself, she quickly erases these thoughts with “a satisfaction which settled her with her own mind, and convinced her… she had done nothing which woman’s friendship and woman’s feelings would not justify” (43). Evidently, Emma is easily able to dismiss Mr. Knightley’s rational suggestions, satisfied with her own more amusing ideas. She remains confident in her own imaginative schemes, letting that govern her conduct. As the novel progresses and Mr. Elton reveals Emma as the true object of his affection, Emma’s prediction and meddling proves to be a failure. In reflecting on her behavior, Emma notes,
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