Emma’s Transformation in Jean Austen’s Novel “Emma”, Essay Example

Emma’s Transformation in Jean Austen’s Novel “Emma”, Essay Example

“Emma” the best Austen novel, is certainly one of the most memorable. It depicts the turbulent times in England in the Regency Era. The novel is rather interesting to study and read as it is unlike other novels by the same author. The heroine has no problems with money. This is a great way for Austen to concentrate on the inner world of the young, gorgeous, rich, and spoilt young woman. It’s fascinating to watch the transformation Emma goes through throughout the novel. The reader is able to study the effects of society and the other people on Emma’s development. Emma’s behavior is influenced by certain factors in the first chapter of the novel. Some external factors also influence Emma’s personality change. In fact, the novel is an excellent example of how the society has an impact on people, but also demonstrates that there always is a choice, and that anyone can change to better.

Before examining Emma’s transformation, her initial behavior has to be analyzed. Emma, at the beginning of the story is depicted as a typical young lady who was typical of her age. She comes from a wealthy family , and is well-educated and has good manners. She is also arrogant, proud and vain. These traits are typical of the people of the epoch: British society flourished in the Regency Era, aristocrats were satisfied with their high level of living and did not care about anything else. Emma’s story is quite common among the young people who were her age She does not have anything to worry about (she is rich and happy and has never had to face any issues). The attraction to matchmaking in her is easily explained: she is bored. Emma isn’t ready for emotional engagement and has a hard time forming relationships with males, as her studies are mostly finished and she has nothing to do. Emma’s friends become her playmates, and she behaves like an chess player playing chess on the board. This is not normal and cannot be accepted. Austen, however, shows that such games are not in Emma’s nature.

As the story progresses, the reader witnesses tendencies for Emma’s behavior and character. The change in Emma’s character can be traced to Mr. Knightley. He’s twice as old as Emma, more experienced and wise. The attitude of the heroine towards Miss Bates, an elderly spinster, is one of the most destructive. At Box Hill, Emma criticizes and does her a great disservice, not really understanding the harm she caused. Later the following day, Mr. Knightley criticizes Emma and attempts to assist her in understanding the mistake. Knightley states that her remarks are “unfeeling toward Miss Bates” (Austen, 245). Emma doesn’t react to the criticism, but “laughs at it” (245). The actress continues to socialize. But, the reader realizes that Knightley’s words had some effect on Emma and she begins to become more concerned. This is the turning point in the story, when Emma recognizes her weaknesses and begins to work towards improvement. Emma isn’t capable of noticing her flaws and requires Knightley’s help to get better. Once she is pointed at her shortcomings, she begins trying to be the best and strives to make improvements.

Austen’s heroine isn’t perfect. She makes many mistakes in the course of the story through. Miss Bates’ behavior is just one of many examples. Emma is prone to judge people based on their social standing and the level of wealth. This kind of mindset was rather common for Britain of those days. The most important criteria to evaluate the worthiness of a person was their wealth. This resulted in many misperceptions. People with great talents were not considered to be valuable, but the wealthy were considered to possess only positive traits. Emma makes this judgement quite often and thinks it is normal. Only Mr. Knightley’s advice can help Emma recognize that her ways of assessing people are incorrect.

Emma’s feelings undergo a second fascinating change. In the beginning of the story, we are introduced to her as someone who doesn’t want to be with anyone, and doesn’t require to be in love with anyone. Emma declares that she’ll not get married and prefers to remain with her friends. This is an interesting setting, since Emma is the very first Austen heroine who does not display an intense love affair or simple sexuality. This spoiled child is not attracted to love. She attempts to fall for Frank Churchill in the middle as they’re an attractive couple. But their love does not go beyond flirting in public. Emma is envious when she hears that Mr. Knightley may have had a crush on Jane and she then realizes that she’s in love Mr. Knightley. This is the end of the change we see, as Emma eventually becomes a person who is ready to make a contribution.

Emma’s flaws in the beginning are predetermined by her social environment. The heroine of Austen is a reflection of the society of the day. Mr. Knightley’s attentive guidance helps her grow, proving that a person can transform for the better if he/she truly wants to. Emma is a responsible and sensible woman who isn’t shy about committing. The author stresses the significance of emotions and feelings in the growth of a person.


Works Cited

Austen, Jane. Emma. 3rd. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 2000.

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