Who Is The Blunder In Jane Austen's Emma?

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From the beginning of Jane Austen’s Emma, readers have a clear understanding of Emma Woodhouse. She is very well off and enjoys meddling in other people 's love life, although she has no intentions of marrying herself. However, one key sequence of scenes towards the end of the novel changes the reader’s view of Emma. The sequences of scenes relating to Harriet Smith’s disclosure of her love for Mr. Knightley to Emma’s recognition of her love for Mr. Knightley takes what readers know about the plot, characters, and key themes and advances their knowledge. The sequence of scenes involving Harriet and Emma advances our understanding of Emma’s previous blindness and growing feelings toward Mr. Knightley. The sequence of scenes involving Harriet…show more content…
When Emma realizes that she loves Mr. Knightley, she notes the biggest blunder of all is the failure to understand her own heart: “The blunders, the blindness of her own head and heart!” (373). Out of all of Emma’s blunders, this is the biggest. She must find another match for Harriet, secure her own position with Mr. Knightley, and gain her father’s approval for marriage. While this is not unfixable, Emma must take responsibility for her actions for the first time in her life. The word “blunder” is actually repeated many times throughout the novel. At the very beginning, Mrs. Weston tells Mr. Knightley that Emma will not make any lasting blunders: “she will never lead any one really wrong; she will make no lasting blunder” (32). Therefore, readers are under the impression, from the start of the novel, that Emma will create a conflict among the characters. After Mr. Elton proposes to Emma, she is bothered by the “effects of her blunders” and wishes they could be kept to herself, rather than made known to Harriet (121). Emma, “through a series of strange blunders,” believes that Mr. Elton is in love with Harriet (295). Again, the word “blunder” appears during the word game when Frank Churchill attempts to signal to Jane Fairfax that he has blundered by revealing information that she told him in secret (316). After these scenes, readers can see every so clearly that these sequence of scenes serve as a critical moment for Emma as she is able to see something that is right before the reader’s
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