Understanding And Perception In Jane Austen'S Emma

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In Jane Austen’s Emma, Austen expresses the importance of not judging others based on class, their employment, or events of the past. This belief of Austen’s, is shown throughout the novel: from the opening when Emma discourages Harriet to marry the wonderful Mr. Martin, based on his employment, to insulting the kindly Miss Bates because of her tendency to speak dully. Ironically, Emma judges others so harshly, when she does not heed nor take criticism aimed at her lightly. Austen employs motifs to further show this tendency to judge others in the form of reoccurring insight to the judgmental mind of Emma. This parody, set in the early nineteenth century, shows the constraints of culture in England, and the tendency to judge others, but not one’s self. In Jane Austen’s Emma, the protagonist influences others into making decisions that fit her beliefs, because of her lack of perception to other’s beliefs, and her disposition to think highly of herself. Emma’s lack of perception that a person could possibly think different than she, ultimately leads to several great mistakes that affect the lives of others. From the start of the novel, Austen explicitly states the character flaws of the perceivably perfect Emma: “The real evils indeed of Emma’s situation were the power of having rather too much of her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself; these were the disadvantages which threatened alloy to her many enjoyments” (4). This revelation made by Austen hints at the future: though Emma appears to be consistently right, her opinions do not always have other’s best interests at heart. Mr. Knightley realizes this, and upon finding that Emma influenced Harriet to refuse the perfectly agreeable Mr. Martin, Emma explains her understandable reasoning: “She must abide by the evil of having refused him, whatever it may be; and as to the refusal itself,
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