Theme of Transformation in Emma

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Emma also transforms into a proper woman through correcting her original neglect. Trollope states that “[i]n every passage of the book she is in fault for some folly, some vanity, some ignorance, or indeed for some meanness” (7)19. Because of her ignorance toward attitudes of her neighbors, Emma interferes through their lives in a way that makes them unhappy, for “she had often been negligent” (Austen 359)20. Mr. Knightley predicts the outcome of Emma’s plans in the beginning of the novel when he states that “[y]ou are more likely to have done harm to yourself, than good to them by interference” (Austen 8)21 and also that “[v]anity working on a weak head produces every sort of mischief” (Austen 53)22. Not only is Emma stubborn toward her actions, but she is also negligent to herself when she convinces herself “I cannot really change for the better” (Austen 73)23. On other matters about her plans for others, Emma’s consideration falls short through her own selfishness and withholding of her pride, for “[t]he longer she considered it, the greater was her sense of its expediency” (Austen 27)24. Another form of Emma’s neglect is one of manipulation, mostly through her control over Harriet Smith. Emma is “willful, manipulative, an arranger or rather a misarranger of other people’s lives. Much of the time she fails to see things clearly and truly, and her self-knowledge is uncertain” (Goodheart)25. “One significant effect of harping on Emma's snobbery is to set in relief her romantic notions of Harriet's origin and destiny” (Brooke)26. Although to Harriet, Emma’s “help” to her is one that will reveal optimistic results and a proper husband, Harriet is incapable to taking up for herself against Emma, but if “[s]he would form her opinions... ... middle of paper ... ...ourth Edition (2010): 1-9. Literary Reference Center. Web. 15 Jan. 2014. Howells, William D. “Heroines of Nineteenth Century Fiction.” Harper’s Bazaar XXXIII-26 (1900): 516-23. Rpt in Nineteenth Century Literature Criticism. Ed. Janet Mullane and Robert Thomas Wilson. Vol 19. Detroit: Gale, 1938. 8. Print. Kohn, Denise. "Reading Emma As A Lesson On "Ladyhood”": A Study In The Domestic Bildungsroman." Essays In Literature 22.1 (1995): 45-58.Literary Reference Center. Web. 15 Jan. 2014. Paris, Bernard J. "Critical Readings: Emma." Critical Insights: Jane Austen (2010): 69-104. Literary Reference Center. Web. 15 Jan. 2014. Trollope, Anthony. “Trollope on ‘Emma’: An Unpublished Note.” Nineteenth Century Fiction, Vol IV, No. 3 (1949): 245-47. Rpt. in Nineteenth Century Literature Criticism. Ed. Janet Mullane and Robert Thomas Wilson. Vol 19. Detroit: Gale, 1988.7. Print.
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