The Representation Of The Truth In Emma

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Jane Austen’s Emma sparks a representation of truth in the pursuit of knowledge and growth through showing the eponymous’ ironic use of manipulation. In the growth of Emma through recognition towards her misjudgements towards herself and her heart, Austen presents an ironic study of the bildungsroman of her central character, Emma Woodhouse to show that only on truth secure and fulfilling relationships can be built.

At the centre of the text is the heroine whose actions largely determine the course of the plot that which stem from the society she lives in; Highbury. Highbury is a hermetic microcosm of a larger english world that bounds Emma through its patriarchal and “gendered” nature. Emma is constrained, even defined by the society she belongs to. Her dreams, do not go outside it, showing the “enveloping intimacy” (John Bayley). This gives the novel its power to highlight the dilemmas and problems of her immature perspective, given to her by her father’s neglect of allowing her to travel. Emma Woodhouse has never been to the sea “I must beg you not to take of the sea. It makes me envious and miserable; – I who have never seen it” [technique and analysis] Due to this, Emma has a myopic view of the world. It is only when Emma steps out of the isolated community of Highbury on the excursion to ill-fated Box Hill, that this view is altered. Austen’s precise location of the isolated community Highbury causes Emma to retract the same genty values of those that surround her thus a compassionate behaviour is lacking. At Box Hill Emma insults Miss Bates “Ah! ma’am, but there may be a difficulty. Pardon me, but you will be limited as to number—only three at once.” With these words, Emma has reaffirmed her lack of maturity. It is only through Knightleys recognition of this disparity that Emma feels remorse “Her situation should secure your compassion”. It is through the omniscient voice that Emma’s is immediately concerned of her moral growth, as shown in Austen’s descriptions of Emma’s emotions through her use of free indirect speech “so agitated, so mortified, [so] grieved” It is through the ascending tricolon, Austen enables readers to explore the psychology of the flawed but essentially good-natured emma in such a convincing and profound way. This marks the climax in her moral education as she has become aware of her “insufferable vanity” and “unparadoxicable arrogance”. Thus, through the change of geographical location it forces Emma to face a representation of the truth that is vast from her common reality. It is for this reason Box hill is a moral nadir for Emma as it enables her to mature as she becomes aware of her actions and the implications it has towards others emotions. 

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The duplicitous side of Emma Woodhouse is on full display from the very beginning of Jane Austen’s novel. Emma is from the beginning, a matchmaker. In the very first chapter she claims credit for the marriage of Mrs Taylor and Mr Woodhouse “I planned that match from the hour: and when such success has blessed me in this instance, dear papa, you cannot think that I shall leave matchmaking” Emmas perception of the role is the core of the misconceptions that breed more meddling due to her deluded belief in status. This delusion is the basis of her manipulation of Harriet Smith. The aura of legitimacy which surrounds Harriet encourages Emma’s imagination about Harriet being the “natural daughter of somebody”. It is from this delusion Emma determines that Mr. Martin is not the right man for Harriet “The misfortune of your birth ought to make you particularly careful as to your associates” This is central to show Emma’s misunderstanding towards her encouragement of a romance between Mr Elton and Harriest nearly wrecks the prospective marriage between Harriet and Mr Martin, the match which is ironically right. These delusions probably born out of boredom and an overdeveloped sense of own importance and power has the potential to have disastrous consequences, it is only when Emma is forced to address these delusions that the truth is given. This comes only after she fully succeeded in making Harriet as conceited as herself, by the centrialian on the perspective of the heroine through internal monologue and complex use of free indirect speech the reader is forced to identity with Emma’s truth; the affection she has for Mr Knightley “she acknowledged the whole truth…..It darted through her with the speed of an arrow that Mr. Knightley must marry no one but herself!” In this narrative climax, the metaphor of a ‘speed of an arrow’ Austen shows us that love can be a discovery of what a person has unknowingly felt for many a long month or year, demonstrating Emma’s representation of learning and growth to stem from the plot of her own story. This representation of the truth is the greatest growth of Emma as she matures through her discovery of the truth about love that up ends her previous conviction that “it is not my way, or my nature”.


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