Jane Austen's "Emma" - Character Analysis of Protagonist
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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In addition, Emma’s almost pretentious regard for her imaginative conjectures causes her to unfairly abstain from a well-suited friendship with Jane Fairfax. Due to her status and the closeness in their age and position, Jane fits the description of an ideal friend for Emma. However, Emma’s vanity causes her to get jealous of the praise and esteem Jane receives from those around them. As Mr. Knightley puts it, Emma “saw in [Jane] the really accomplished young woman, which she wanted to be thought herself” (107). For example, Emma is envious of Jane’s superior musical talent and “unfeignedly and unequivocally [regretted] the inferiority of her own playing and singing” (150). Furthermore, Emma does not like the praise and attention Mr. Knightley so willingly gives Jane. These vain concerns lead Emma to make unfair assumptions and comments about her used to justify her lack of friendliness. Emma succeeds in contriving a story about Jane’s interaction with the Dixons, something she has no knowledge about. Her imagination leads her to believe that Jane “seduced Mr. Dixon’s affections from his wife”, a serious presumption to make (108). It becomes clear later in the novel that this elaboration of Emma’s is very untrue. These comments, another blurring result of Emma’s vigorous imagination, distract her from the true nature of Jane’s character. For it is later learned that