Was I supposed to hate Emma Woodhouse?


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The novel “Emma” is a farcical account of one young woman’s attempts to get another married off well. At it’s heart is the titular Emma, a extremely intelligent and proactive young woman who delights in flitting about her social circle.

I really didn’t like Emma. Not the book, the character. She was vain, too vain of her own cleverness and supposed perceptiveness. She destroyed her friend’s life. She caused far more pain and heartache than happiness.

I got why she did all this: she was possessed of the desire to make. Her entire world was “society”–the social interactions of her neighborhood peers. She wanted to make, and her realm was that of relationships. Thus, she tried to make relationships. Except that she discounted the fact that these were people, not objects, and she could not make anyone do or feel what she wanted them to do or feel. The result was havoc.


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