In Emma by Jane Austen, it is visible to readers that Emma uses her matchmaking skills and overconfidence to hide the fact that she is scared of failure and hides behind others’ relationships to make up for her lack of romantic interaction. This is clear through Emma’s various attempts at ‘matchmaking’ which all end with consequences that would have been easily avoided if Emma was not so overconfident and careless. After Emma takes credit for her governess, Miss Taylor’s, marriage, she becomes obsessed with finding a match for her new friend, Harriet. Through these various efforts, Emma becomes delusional and ignores whatever is happening in the real world, as she is set on a goal, which is to find a man for Harriet, and she will not do anything else besides that until she succeeds. This is Emma’s major flaw, that she is so wealthy and spoiled, she believes that anything she wants is achievable, no matter if it harms others or there are other negative results. Emma is so confident about her matchmaking skills that she does not realize that she might be harming other people’s relationships and lives by forcing her own opinions upon their personal romantic relationships. An example of this is when Emma attempts to break off Harriet and Mr. Martin’s relationship so that Harriet can be with Mr. Elton, who by Emma’s viewpoint is a better man because he is more wealthy and has more class. However, this turns into a disaster as Emma is so closed minded to the fact that others may not always like people just because of their social status and amount of money, which is the case here. Mr. Elton is a rich priest with a high social status, but he only dates and marries for money, which is a problem since Harriet is an orphan with a much lower social status. Emma initially thought this was a good idea because she thought she herself was good enough for Mr. Elton, so she automatically assumes Harriet is also good enough for him. This was all caused because Emma’s ego is so high that she does not think of the consequences or of anyone else who may be affected by her decisions. Emma is so delusional to what goes on around her she refuses to believe that Mr. Elton actually likes her and not Harriet, even after Mr. Elton drunkenly proposes to Emma. Yet she continues, because she is so privileged she is used to things going her way and she believes she can make a relationship between Mr. Elton and Harriet work. After failure to bring Harriet and Mr. Elton together, Emma says: “It was foolish, it was wrong, to take so active a part in bringing any two people together. It was adventuring too far, assuming too much, making light of what ought to be serious, a trick of what ought to be simple” (Austen 78). Here it is clear to see that Emma believes it was wrong of her to do that to Harriet. However, Emma still refuses to stop after this and continues to try and find a man for Harriet. It is not specified for sure as to why Emma does not stop and enjoys matchmaking so much, but one theory is that it is one of the only things in her life she has control over, and it is shown here and in many other examples, she plays with people’s lives as if they are puppets, and she seems to be obsessed with it.After the incident with Mr. Elton, Emma still attempts to find a man for Harriet. Although Emma promised herself to stay single forever, she begins to show interest in Frank Churchill, who is wealthy and a perfect gentleman. Emma decides to try and match Harriet with Frank, even though she is the one who is interested in him. This may be because she does not want to be in a relationship but she is curious and wants to play out the relationship with Harriet instead of herself. Emma is quite confident in herself but is scared and refuses to make mistakes, which is why she does not get into a relationship herself. Mr. Knightley, who at this point is mad at Emma, states: “How can Emma imagine she has anything to learn herself, while Harriet is presenting such a delightful inferiority?” (54). Here we see that even Mr. Knightley is able to see past Emma’s act and even he can see that she uses and manipulates others so that she will not make any mistakes herself. Emma is hiding behind Harriet to experiment with a relationship so that she will not embarrass herself if and when she decides to be in a relationship herself. This works out even better for Emma as Harriet is of a much lower social status than Emma so Harriet will believe almost everything of what Emma says, which is exactly what Mr. Knightley is claiming. He is correct of course, as Harriet listens to Emma when she tells her to reject Mr. Martin even though she really does not want to, and when Emma makes Harriet date Mr. Elton and Mr. Churchill. Harriet will listen to Emma no matter what, which leads Emma on even more, as no one tries to stop her. Emma does not realize that this is ruining Harriet’s relationships and is also harming Harriet and Emma’s friendship. It is also encouraging Emma so that she will become even more delusional and have bigger goals. Emma then falls for Mr. Knightly, who is mad at her for being rude to Miss Bates. Miss Bates is very sweet but does not have very much money since she grew up with no man to be the moneymaker in her home because of the death of her father and brother. This part shows that even though Mr. Knightley is wealthy, he is also a gentleman as he cares for others, such as Miss Bates. Harriet however, also admires Mr. Knightley and so Emma tries once again to bring those two closer. However this time it does not last long as Mr. Knightley is interested in Emma and not Harriet, so Emma finally learns from her previous mistakes. Emma agrees to date Mr. Knightley and he later proposes to her. Meanwhile, Harriet goes back to Mr. Martin and agrees to marry him. After all this, Emma says: “I would much rather have been merry than wise” (232). This is a short but very important part of the book, as it shows that Emma finally understands that life is about new experiences and not being so careful all the time. Throughout the entire story, Emma tries to match people up, from Ms. Taylor and Mr. Weston, to Harriet and Mr. Elton, Frank Churchill, and John Knightly. All these end up with terrible outcomes that would have been very easily avoided if only Emma would not have been so proud. Emma has been focusing so much on Harriet and finding a man for her, she was not considering herself or her own happiness, which is ultimately what lead to the consequences. Emma finally admits that instead of trying to manipulate other’s lives, she should have been focusing on her own life, and focusing on her own happiness. All of these problems that Emma faced could have been avoided if she was not so delusional and was not so closed minded to possibilities that she did not think were possible. Throughout this book, it is clear to see that Emma is very delusional and ignorant to the world outside her imagination, and that she uses others to feel some sense of control in her life by manipulating their relationships. By the end, she learns from her mistakes and learns to take care of herself before hurting others. From this book, individuals learn that it is more important to focus on their own relationships and happiness rather than focus on and try to change what others are doing. Although it is important to focus on other people, an individual must look after themselves first before interfering in others’ relationships as there are many consequences that are easily avoidable. It is also important to look after one’s self happiness before ruining another person’s happiness with self insecurity and fear.
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