The Maturation of Emma in Jane Austen's "Emma"

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Jane Austen's Emma is a novel built on contrasts and contradictions. Mr. Martin's humble sense is the antithesis of Mr. Elton's foolish pride; Harriet's retiring sweetness is set against Mrs. Elton's vulgar conceit; Mr. Knightly's consideration for others compares with Frank Churchill's insensitive use of Emma.


Deception is a device that Austen uses to great advantage. Emma deceives herself that Mr. Elton’s attentions are for Harriet. Frank Churchill’s attentions to Emma are a deception and a misdirection (which leads one to wonder if Austen named this character with tongue in cheek). Austen then juxtaposes these deceptions against the forthright manner of both Mr. Knightly and Mr. Martin. The angst, which grows from Emma’s self-reflection, is expressed in terms of her self-deception, “ .The blunders, the blindness of her own head and heart”! Furthermore, her self-knowledge comes at a price. She realises that she may lose Mr. Knightly because of her own doing—her arrogant meddling. Deception plays here, too, as Emma believes Mr. Knightly wishes to speak of Harriet as his future wife and begs him to leave the words unspoken. ...
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