Theme of Transformation in Emma

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Emma also transforms into a proper woman through correcting her original neglect. Trollope states that “[i]n every passage of the book she is in fault for some folly, some vanity, some ignorance, or indeed for some meanness” (7)19. Because of her ignorance toward attitudes of her neighbors, Emma interferes through their lives in a way that makes them unhappy, for “she had often been negligent” (Austen 359)20. Mr. Knightley predicts the outcome of Emma’s plans in the beginning of the novel when he states that “[y]ou are more likely to have done harm to yourself, than good to them by interference” (Austen 8)21 and also that “[v]anity working on a weak head produces every sort of mischief” (Austen 53)22. Not only is Emma stubborn toward her…show more content…
Eugene Goodheart views Emma’s imagination as a “bending predilection in the antithesis of the romantic sympathetic imagination”36 because Emma chooses to live in a world that she creates around herself, such as the fantasy that she can marry Harriet Smith off to Mr. Elton. “She has come to realize to the full how her romantic attempts to marry Harriet such fantasies as to imagine Mr. Knightley in love with her; that the ideas of social hierarchy which Emma had fostered are fantasy” (Brooke)37. Emma’s immaturity only reforms when “Emma finds through her love of Mr. Knightley that much of her snobbery is false and superficial” (Brooke)38, and Emma is forced into the reality of the hierarchical Victorian society, where she “is instructed not only by Knightley but also by reality, which crushes her pride and forces her to abandon her delusional system” (Paris)39. Her misunderstandings of people are also seen in her obsessiveness, for “Emma’s ‘humors’ or obsessions are many, and they give rise to a variety of mistakes and illusions” (Paris)40. Her obsessiveness within her own fantasy leads her to attempting to find a husband for Harriet, which fails. When Emma finally realizes her mistakes, she is able to marry Knightley because “Emma has learned to balance power and propriety,” which reveals “Austen’s ideal of a lady as a woman who is strong but not manipulative” (Kohn)41. Another sign of Emma’s original misunderstandings of her society are clear in her judgment. “Emma
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