Emma is the most forward-thinking person in Lark Rise; she sets out to ensure her daughter has a “better” life by sending her to work for the post office in Candleford, and gently chiding her husband’s desire to let her stay at home as holding her back. When Caroline splurges Alf’s wages on meat and onions, Emma chastises her for thinking so little ahead and not putting money by, buying an expensive meal rather than flour for bread. She tends to trust her hunches, whether they are right or wrong – she often has shrewd insights into her husband, Laura, Dorcas, and the various ladies about the town, but can also be drawn to “fanciful” ideas. When she thinks she may come into money, Emma starts to think about a different life, in Candleford. She also leaps to the wrong conclusion and assumes one of the soldiers who winked at her in town is flirting with and leaving her romance notes on a tree (it’s her husband). She values the truth and is diligent in taking care of her families, in planning meals, in managing their finances, and in taking rational steps to help her children to accomplish future goals (despite not wanting to lose Laura, she sends her away to learn a useful craft; she insists her children all attend school faithfully, and urges Robert to take jobs that pay good wages rather than pursuing art for its own sake). She urges Laura not to allow her feelings to get in the way of her work. Emma sometimes has a harsh tongue and says the wrong thing, but she means well. Emma’s bluntness often gets her into trouble with her family, especially her husband, who takes everything she says personally as an insult. Her emotions do not come out often and when she does address them, her method is to talk about the actions that brought them on (such as learning that Dorcas means to give Laura a beautiful leather journal with her name on it) rather than how it makes her feel (leaving Robert to guess, accurately, her feelings). Emma confesses to Dorcas that she doesn’t know how to interact with Laura after Laura loses a boyfriend, because she has never experienced those emotions. Though kind hearted, Emma prioritizes her family and the people she cares about over everyone else. Emma can be impulsive at times – she cartwheels in fields, she admits to her husband that she has a “wandering heart” that has always wanted more than Lark Rise, and she splurges a lot of money on a fancy dress from the Pratts’ shop over her inheritance.

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Emma is distrustful of strangers and suspicious of their motives. She challenges others frequently, testing their reaction and often pointing out their flaws, but becomes very distressed whenever Robert is angry with her or there is upheaval in her family dynamic. She tends to be fearful, not wanting to take too many chances, and comes down hard on Robert when she fears he is “wasting his time” making the church “pretty” when he could be earning more elsewhere. She chastises him for losing his temper and his position with Sir Timothy, because it further endangers their precarious finances. She is often afraid. Her 5 wing gives her a sense of greater certainty, though, and a romantic streak that manifests in her stories and poetry (things she says are “childish” but secretly indulges with great joy).