Emma makes it her business to make “other people happy” by socially-arranging their lives. After a degree of success in matching up her sister Isabella to John Knightley, she then pairs up her governess with a wealthy local widower, resulting in a match made in heaven. Though Emma feels lonely after this, she soon adopts into her fold Harriet Smith, whom she decides she will match up with the local vicar. Despite everyone else telling her to leave well enough alone, she persists in seeking to advance Harriet’s social standing and position, her income and future prospects, through her matchmaking skills. A woman unable to tolerate “different opinions,” Emma often winds up arguing fiercely with Mr. Knightley over her good deeds. She, when questioned, insists that she is doing good in Harriet’s life. She often stifles her own feelings to keep others content, putting aside her desire to visit the seaside to keep her father happy (he’s neurotic about falling ill), diffusing tension at the family dinner table, tolerating Miss Bates, and attempting to be kind to Jane Fairfax, even though Emma cannot stand hearing her name. She voices her opinions fiercely to anyone who will listen, and even rants and raves to herself when out for a walk (“She called him Knightley! Barely knew him five minutes! I have known him my entire life and even I don’t call him Knightley!”). Emma’s truest blind spot comes from her inability to question her own decisions; when pushed, she becomes quarrelsome rather than self-analyzing, defending her position rather than rethink it. It is not until she fails miserably with Harriet on several levels that she atones and amends her ways or dares to acknowledge her mistake. She in every way wants to ‘improve Harriet,’ since Emma foresees a far different outcome to her life than anyone else has imagined. Various people in her life complain that she is ‘often right’ in predicting outcomes, and Mr. Knightley claims that instead of her looks, Emma’s vanity ‘lies in quite another direction’ – that is, in arranging things and matchmaking. But she can be so set upon the desired end result (Harriet and Mr. Elton) that she refuses to notice the evidence right in front of her face (Elton has his sights set upon her) and it only becomes apparent later to her, in hindsight, as she ‘flashes back’ and sees what happened in another way. Emma is quick to make up things in her mind and to see potential outcomes, such as when she imagines Jane almost falling off a cliff only to be caught in a handsome man’s arms and stare longingly into his gaze. She trusts her own narrow views so completely, she mistakes Harriet’s talking about Mr. Knightley for her falling in love with Frank Churchill. She can be opportunistic and want to enjoy herself and have a good time (such as the picnic at Box Hill, where she insists upon ‘being merry’ while everyone else is complaining about being hot), but mostly Emma’s tert-Se shows up in her short attention span and inability to not stay ‘active.’ She would much rather work on a project than read a book, and Mr. Knightley mocks this, for he says she is good at compiling lists of them, but not in ever finishing them. But then, why would she read, when she has so much else to do!?

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Emma prides herself on being talented, beautiful, and above all, helpful and needed. She confesses herself a little disheartened, though, when she realizes that in helping others, she often places them ‘out of her life’ (her sister moves to London after marriage, and Mrs. Weston is no longer in the house to be around her). She wins over Harriet by intrusive ‘helping’ – teaching her manners, politeness, introducing her as her ‘special friend,’ making sure she is well-looked after, bringing her along on charitable errands, and doing her best to get Harriet to think better of herself and her prospects. Alas for Harriet, this ‘helping’ is also manipulative and seductive. Emma often gets her to change her mind, just so she is agreeing with Emma herself, then reaffirms her, by saying that is the advice she would have given, if asked. Though Emma hates to ask for it, she is in desperate need of compliments and affirmation and prides herself on being right. Her 1 wing ‘sees room for improvement wherever she looks,’ and directs itself toward, at times, unrealistic standards of accomplishment. Emma often does the opposite of what she feels, in an attempt to prop up her 2ish desire to look good (such as throwing a party for Mrs. Elton, and allowing her to make many of the arrangements, even if Emma feels annoyed by it).