Learn From Your Mistakes In Jane Austen's Emma

Submitted By shelnutt412
Words: 1002
Pages: 5

Learn from your Mistakes It is often said that when a mistake is made, dwelling on it will do no good. Rather than letting it affect the present and the future, learning from that mistake will be beneficial. Emma Woodhouse makes many mistakes throughout Jane Austen's Emma. Emma attempts to match her friend, who is decidedly of a lower class, to a gentleman. Emma also allows herself to lead on Frank Churchill, even though she is not genuinely attracted to him. Last, Emma publicly claims that she will never marry. As Emma progresses, Miss Woodhouse learns from these mistakes and develops her emotional characteristics. Harriet Smith becomes a sort of project for Emma. Despite the fact that Harriet's lineage is unknown, Emma attempts to match her with a gentleman. The fact that Emma thinks the match is an actual probability shows that Emma is not entirely in touch with reality. Her imagination and hopeful nature lead her to make unwise choices. Emma makes the mistake of influencing Harriet into thinking she can capture a man of a higher class. Harriet is naive, and without question she begins to hold Emma's opinion in the highest regard. Because Emma makes the choice of drawing Harriet away from her true object of affection, Mr. Martin, Harriet's feelings are put in jeopardy. Had Emma not assumed that Harriet's beauty and charm could make up for her lack of fortune, Mr. Martin and Harriet could have settled much earlier. Emma's imagination causes trouble in the novel as well. Had Emma not imagined Elton so in love with Harriet, she might have been able see his affection towards herself. Emma's mistakes cause herself, Harriet, Elton, and Martin emotional distress. The heartache caused by the rejection of Harriet by Mr. Elton makes Emma realize that she should stop her match-making business. Emma learns that she is not always right when it comes to reading people's emotions. "Can you trust me with such flatterers? Does my vain spirit ever tell me I am wrong" (Austen 739). However, Mr. Elton's affections toward Emma give her a sense of superiority. Before the acquaintance is made, Frank Churchill appears to be a potential suitor for Emma. Frank seems perfect upon first appearance. He is physically attractive, he has a way with words, and he is generally polite. He tends to be over pleasing at times. Because Emma sees him as a match with an acceptable social status, she begins to make it obvious that she has a sort of claim over him. Later, when Churchill is shown as irresponsible and deceitful, she continues to flirt with him. "Emma's very good opinion of Frank Churchill was a little shaken the following day, by hearing that he was gone off to London, merely to have his hair cut" (Austen 680). Emma wants the Highbury society to believe that they are a potential match, despite the fact that she has ruled him out completely. Emma also resorts to gossip as a way of flirtation. She continuously jokes with Frank about Jane Fairfax. Frank plays along with Emma, all the while secretly engaged to Jane. This goes to show that Emma still has not learned her lesson. Her assumption that Frank Churchill is actually falling for her is completely wrong. Once Emma hears of the engagement, she is given a reality check. The character of Emma develops emotionally upon hearing the news because she is once again shown that she is not always right. The unexpected engagement also shows Emma that she could not have had Frank Churchill even if she wanted him. Therefore, the superiority she felt after receiving Mr. Elton's affections is lost. Despite her faults, a reader must admire Emma for her independence. During the early nineteenth century, it was not common to find a woman that was