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'The underlying theme of this novel is the education of Emma Woodhouse' (R.E. Hughes). Discuss
As the protagonist, it seems imperative that Emma must undergo form of metamorphosis, to warrant her dominant part in the book.Strikingly, much comment on Emma by Austen primarily is undeniably pejorative,'the real evils indeed of Emma's situation were the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself'. This early remark accentuates the negative aspects of Emma's personality and prepares the reader for the inevitable progression to the feminine ideal (education) that manifested at Austen's time of writing.
Emma's education is largely informal which accounts for the its furtive nature.We are informed that Emma has received limited tuition from her governess Miss Taylor who departs to be married before the onset of the novel,'Emma doing just what she liked' highly esteeming Miss Taylor's judgment but directed chiefly by her own'.This infers further that Emma believes herself to be morally inviolable.In this way we can discount Miss Taylor's instruction from the general subject of education.Moreover the other characters in the book are continually in awe of her judgement and character and would never reproach Emma.The only character to pass vigorous criticism on Emma is Mr. John Knightly,'Mr. Knightly, in fact was one of the few people who could see faults in Emma Woodhouse, and the only one who ever told her of them'.Mr. Knightly as the moral center of the book, and the man Emma finally marries qualified to be Emma's teacher.Emma though learns through her own faults as much as she is guided by others.Mr. Knightly's objective is unequivocally to restore Emma to humility and responsibility but Emma's moral growth is triggered also by spontaneous maturity associated with g


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