Character Essay on Emma by Jane Austen

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Jun 26th, 2020


Emma by Jane Austen is a masterpiece exploring dangers of misconceived romance. The main character is Emma Woodhouse, a beautiful, ingenious, moneyed young woman (Aiken para. 2). The story opens with Emma attending a wedding of Miss Taylor after which she introduces Mr. Weston; her suitor to Miss Taylor. At this point, the issue of Emma’s overestimation regarding her matchmaking skills comes out clearly.

Even though, Mr. Knightley advises her strongly, she statically sticks to her ego and moves on with her new pursuit; she matches Harriet Smith, her new friend, to Mr. Elton. Disregarding the dangers of meddling with other people’s affairs, Emma thinks that Mr. Elton is interested in Harriet and she has to do everything to make sure that Harriet rejects a marriage proposal from Mr. Martin (Austen-Leigh 69). To Emma’s triumph, Harriet rejects Mr. Martin’s proposal. There is no point Emma is letting go of her beliefs, and what is right to her; it is right to others.

Emma’s Character

Static and somewhat uncreative; Emma is not prepared to adapt to change or compromise her principles for the sake of others (Millar and Machichan 56). For instance, even though her neighbour Mr. Knightly warns her of her ‘meddling’ behavior, she doe not take heed. She blandishes herself that she is the person behind the matching of Miss Taylor and Mr. Weston. She goes to meddle with Harriet’s affairs who gives in to her advances.

She says to Harriet, “I lay it down as a general rule, Harriet, that if a woman doubts as to whether she should accept a man or not, she certainly ought to refuse him. If she can hesitate as to “Yes,” she ought to say “No” directly’” (Austen 47). This is a true depiction of her static nature.

She lays down rules and everyone has to follow them. Her static nature comes out clearly through the description that the author gives her, “She did not always feel so absolutely satisfied with herself, so entirely convinced that her opinions were right and her adversary’s wrong, as Mr. Knightley” (Austen 23). If Emma were creative and dynamic, she would at least understand other people and let them do things their way. The static nature blinds Emma from appreciating that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion and it does not have to be right always.

Her static nature is fostered further by her insensitivity, which comes out clearly in the character of this young woman. Apart from meddling with other people’s affairs, she asserts, “’I have no faith in Mrs. Elton’s acknowledging herself the inferior in thought, word, or deed; or in her being under any restraint beyond her own scanty rule of good breeding.

I cannot imagine that she will not be continually insulting her visitor with praise, encouragement, and offers of service; that she will not be continually detailing her magnificent intentions from the procuring her a permanent situation to the including her in those delightful exploring parties which are to take place in the barouche-landau” (Austen 264).

She does not seem to care about other people’s feelings. To her, it does not matter if Harriet is in love with Mr. Martin; she has to marry Mr. Elton (SparkNotes Editors para. 6). This has to happen for Emma to get the credit of matchmaking the relationship.

To affirm her insensitivity she says, “Silly things do cease to be silly if they are done by sensible people in an impudent way” (Austen 36). This may be true; however, people have to have their way in doing what they do. This character stems from the fact that Emma is not exposed to the real world where not everything works for the good of somebody. Dynamism would come along with sensitive and caring nature. Dynamism makes one realize that other people have feelings that calls for respect.

Lack of dynamism still comes out in the way jealousy and immaturity stands in Emma’s character. For instance, after Emma realizes how successful Jane is in music world, she envies this talent and consequently hates her. Her immature and static nature of meddling with other people’s issues leads her to speculate and conclude that Jane is in love with Dixon. The reader thinks that Emma would change her behavior as she grows up; unfortunately, she is not set to accept dynamism and accept people the way they are, more so accepting the way she is.

Instead of taking time to evaluate herself and know what she wants, she falls in love with Frank because everyone else thinks that theirs is a perfect couple (DailyLit para. 5). Because of her static nature and inability to make mature decisions, she only loves Knightly after realizing that he likes Harriet. “It darted through her with the speed of an arrow that Mr. Knightley must marry no one but herself” (Austen 375).


Emma by Jane Austen is an interesting story of how misunderstood love may turn out to be. Due to misconceptions about love, coupled with insensitivity and static mindset, Emma does not seem to understand other people. Hers is a selfish ambition of a perfect matchmaker.

However, she fails utterly in matchmaking relationships that never came to be. If only Emma were dynamic, she would have realized that this life does not depend entirely on ones opinions; it is wise to listen; heed advice and change with changing times; that is, be dynamic.

Works Cited

Aiken, Lorraine. “Emma.” 2009. Web.

Austen, Jane. “Emma.” Banes and Noble classics: New York, 2001.

Austen-Leigh, Edward. “A Memoir of Jane Austen.” 1926. Ed. R. W. Chapman. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967.

DailyLit. “Emma.” 2009. Web.

Millar, Martin and Mackichan, Doon. “Jane Austen’s Emma.” 2001. Web.

SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on Emma.” SparkNotes LLC. 2003. Web.

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