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					Amanda Powers                                                                 FYSE 1144

                                     Changes for Emma

       Throughout the course of the story of Emma she encounters many problems. Most

of Emma’s problems occur when she attempts matches for people, but some also arise in

other places. Often Emma’s problems lead to trouble, not just for her, but also for other

characters. This causes distress for many different characters, and allows for insight into

their minds, something which Emma desperately needs. In order for Emma to ease her

problems, she must overcome the ignorance that she suffers from, and learn more about

other people and their thoughts.

       Emma lives very much a sheltered life. Her education was conducted by a

governess, eliminating the need to leave home, but the larger “problem” in her life is her

father. Mr. Woodhouse has many fears, most of them completely irrational. He often

gives well-intentioned advice to others, but usually his thoughts are insignificant and get

ignored by almost every other character. Nearly every time he is depicted on the novel, or

in the films he is complaining about something, or is giving advice, such as the decision

to serve cake at the Weston’s wedding, or suggestions about painting a shawl on Harriet,

since she might get cold from sitting outside. His many fears make him hard to deal with,

and his needs somewhat demanding. Emma found herself left alone with her father early

in life, putting her almost solely in charge of his care. This prevents Emma from getting

out of the house, as her father often feels that going outside would be detrimental to the

health of all involved. Although this situation seems one-sided Emma does get some

benefit from it, since in return for her love and care her father constantly dotes on her.

These circumstances lead Emma to the predicament she faces throughout the course of

the story. Essentially, she can not help but to be ignorant. Her ignorance comes directly

from the way she lives and the course that her life has taken.

         Even from the beginning of the story evidence of Emma’s ignorance can be seen.

She quickly makes up ideas about the thoughts and intentions of others, especially Mr.

Elton. Her ideas often revolve around the matchmaking plans in her head, and she seems

to think that her ideas are absolute fact. This may possibly stem from the way her father

treats her. Since her father seems to feel that everything she says is right, Emma’s

inability to recognize the thoughts of others becomes reinforced. Soon it becomes clear

that Emma does not know how to “read” people, or how to distinguish what she makes

up in her head from what proves true in life. This only sets Emma up for disappointment

and shock when her thoughts turn out false. She seems to lack the ability to understand

her rejection, and then she ends up upset and distraught over how she could have been so


         Although Emma experiences many situations in which the things she predicts or

thinks happen to be wrong she does not seem to grow and learn from her mistakes. After

she thinks that Mr. Elton and Harriet will fall in love, she discovers that Elton has no

feelings for Harriet. Most would leave the situation alone, but Emma persists, trying to

find another suitable match for Harriet. Nothing works out, but soon Harriet tells Emma

that she does have feelings for someone. This elates Emma, and she tries to help facilitate

the match, only to find out that the love is Mr. Knightley, not Frank Churchill. This

revelation again causes Emma great shock and distress, especially once she realizes the

she love Mr. Knightley too. If Emma had known when to quit she never would have had

to deal with the pain she feels, and she never would have been put into a situation where

her protégé suddenly falls in love with her love interest. If she had stayed out of it,

Harriet would have married Mr. Martin, and Emma could have gone after anyone she

wanted, without conflict from Harriet.

       Even though Emma has problems like these throughout the entire course of the

story she finally starts to change after the trip to Boxhill. After insulting Miss Bates, and

being reprimanded by Mr. Knightley, Emma ends up emotional, and pensive about the

wrong she has committed. This thought allows Emma to see some of her errors, and leads

her to feel truly sorry for her actions. At this point Emma starts to change, and she starts

to back off the matchmaking front. Although it is possible that the only reason Emma

changed and felt sorry could have come about because she got reprimanded by Mr.

Knightley she seems to genuinely fell bad, and tries to make things right by apologizing,

something she rarely does in the beginning. Emma finally starts to realize that she does

have some flaws, and she discovers that she is not always right. This comes as a huge

moment for Emma, and from that point on she tries to be a better person, one who thinks

of the feelings of others, not purely for her own enjoyment, but also for the other people’s

happiness. She tries to live a different, better life without trying to arrange marriages, and

spending time helping others in parts of their lives that don’t involve love and marriage.

The effects of this chance come somewhat quickly, as Emma’s first response to this

change comes in the way she thought about Frank Churchill. After the Boxhill trip, and

all Frank’s actions towards the party, especially toward Jane, it seems that Emma finally

starts to see him for the person that he really is, not the one he appears to be on the

outside. This marks the first time that Emma has read someone more or less correctly,

even if the reading only took place after the two had been acquainted.

       Emma’s problems are a common thread throughout the story, with some being

worse than others. Although these problems do not seem to be helpful, in the end they

prove almost invaluable. Without Emma’s problems and the ignorance that causes them

Emma would be a rather uninteresting character, one who has very few flaws. The

problems add much to the story, and keep it interesting, allowing for greater connection

with the character, and the overall plot, which both help to build a better story.


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