Kyle Newby October 22, 2000
AP English Emma essay
A tale of an illegitimate child cast in the path of a rich and well to do socialite. How would their paths cross? What are they like, how do they act, and how are they characterized? Many times in literature authors use characters in their stories to characterize and evaluate other characters in the same story. In this excerpt the main character Harriet is treated as a puppet and is manipulated by Emma. Although the base of the story is about the character Harriet, through Emma s views and manipulation of Harriet, the author evaluates and characterizes Emma more thoroughly than Harriet.
The story adequately characterizes and evaluates Harriet. What is known of her past is limited to the facts that she was an illegitimate child and had been placed in the school by someone. In the present we see that she is a very pretty girl, She was a very pretty girl and her beauty happened to be the sort which Emma particularly admired. She was short, plump, and fair, with a fine bloom, blue eyes, light hair, and regular features, and a look of great sweetness. Altogether she was a very engaging person who, in Emma s opinion, could be made over into a better person and brought into society. However everything we see and learn about Harriet is tainted because it is only Emma s opinions of Harriet, not hard fact, and seen only through Emma s eyes.
However what we learn about Emma through her judgment of Harriet is comparably larger than that which we learn about Harriet herself. In the beginning of the story we learn that Emma is of a rich family and has had most everything given to her. From the very beginning we can see that she has a sense that she is above everyone. We see that Emma knows Harriet well by sight. This tells us that Emma is a person that is superficial and quick to judge others by their clothing and appearance, not by getting to know them personally She was a very pretty girl, and her beauty happened to be the sort which Emma particularly admired. She returns a gracious invitation to the party because she decided that Harriet was beautiful enough to be allowed to come. Later on in the story we see Emma as even more superficial. She admits to, not finding anything clever in Harriet s conversation , and yet because of her looks, mannerisms, and the fact that she seemed to act grateful towards Emma and Hartfield, she decides to keep her around. At this point Emma decides to take it upon herself to notice and improve her and detach her, from what Emma decided were Harriet s bad acquaintances , and introduce her to a good society. She would be the one to form her opinions and her manners. Emma thought that it would be an, interesting, and certainly a very kind undertaking ; highly becoming her own situation in life, her leisure, and powers. Which ultimately shows Emma as a manipulative brat-like person, who, with little regard for the opinions and feelings of another, is willing to make a game of changing a person to fit her likings.
Emma has been characterized as superficial, conceited, and truly haughty. She allows a young girl to come to one of her parties because of the way she looked and dressed, and then decided that she could take Harriet and shape her. Emma would make her give up her poor friends and Emma would introduce her to what she thought of as a good society. We can see that Emma really had no compassion and was only toying with Harriet, but in a na ve way.