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Born Into Blindness

Good Essays
Judgment, reason, and clarity of perception; these are all qualities that contribute to blindness within Jane Austen’s Emma; a blindness that Austen herself feels can be avoided. This form of blindness ultimately yields unhappiness due to an inaccurate perception of human situations and feelings. With Emma’s inability to perceive the truth and her lack of self-understanding, she becomes the victim of her own imaginative world of matchmaking and false happiness induced by Mr. Woodhouse, her father. This inducement is caused by his angst towards marriage and constant obsession of keeping his daughter close. Emma Woodhouse is practically born into blindness when she is left with one parent’s negative connotations toward the reality of the world she resides in, but breaks free from this irrational blindness when happiness is found in the form of Mr. Knightley, thus transforming Emma’s lack of sight into a necessity of insight.
Mr. Woodhouse “is no companion for [Emma]” (2) and “no friend of matrimony” (187). This results in Emma’s blindness and subsequently causes her to feel “marriage, in fact, would not do for her” because it is “incompatible with what she owed to her father” (280). With this induced moral, Emma lacks true happiness due to misconstrued thoughts towards marriage solely to please her father. Mr. Woodhouse’s refusal to lose Emma to marriage as he did his elder daughter, Isabella, blinds her to the real world. By negatively referring to married female characters as “poor Isabella and poor Miss Taylor” (315), Mr. Woodhouse hopes to keep Emma blind to her future happiness that will be found with Mr. Knightley, thus instilling the idea of matchmaking into Emma versus allowing her to recognize her own match. The negativ...

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... her reclusive and selfish father. The removal of Mr. Woodhouse as Emma’s main influence and replacement by Mr. Knightley results in insight and understanding to replace blindness which, in turn, results in true happiness for Emma. With the acceptance of Mr. Knightley, Emma finally “[understands] the deceptions she had been practising on herself…and the blindness of her head and heart” (277), allowing her to find happiness within a world she now sees lucidly and understands. In a sense, Emma’s personal dilemma is also one of the human situation as one continues to find himself and overcome blindness through maturation and humanistic actions in finding truth within building relationships.

Works Cited

Austen, Jane. "Affection." Letter to Fanny Knight. 30 Nov. 1814. MS. 23 Hans Place, London, England.
Austen, Jane. Emma. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1999. Print.
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