Hi everyone, I chose to focus about Emma’s difficultly to know herself and her own feelings through her difficulty to understand the others’ feelings. The two excerpts I’m going to introduce highlight the fact that, regardless of her intelligence, Emma is unable to penetrate the other people’s feelings.
I am going to bear comparison between two passages of Emma. The first excerpt is chapter X, volume 1, during Emma, Harriet and Mr. Elton stroll. Emma is persuaded she should let Mr. Elton and Harriet on their own, and pretends she broke her shoe lace. Mr. Elton’s reaction is clearly understandable, he is really happy that Emma has to stop by his house: “Mr. Elton looked all happiness at this proposition…” (p.65). But she doesn’t pay attention to that, and still tries to leave her friends together for a little while. Then, when she realizes no progress has been made, she thinks: “Cautious, very cautious […] he advances inch by inch and will hazard nothing till he believes himself secure” (p.66).
The second passage that is an echo to the aforementioned one occurs on chapter XIII, volume 1, when Harriet caught a throat ache. Mr. Elton is clearly alarmed for Emma’s possible contamination, whereas he never mentions any complain towards Harriet’s state of health. He starts by a sentence one could think devoid of ambiguousness, when he speaks to Emma: “Indeed you should take care of yourself as well as of your friend” (p.79). But then he doesn’t seem to be very worried about Harriet, and when it’s time for him to leave Emma, we can read this sentence: “Mr. Elton was to go, and never had his broad handsome face expressed more pleasure than at this moment; never had his smile be stronger, nor his eyes more exulting than when he next looked at her” (p.79).
Actually, I think Emma might understand his feelings but doesn’t want to admit to the idea of someone being in love with her. The narrator hinted to the readers throughout the book that we can understand Emma’s situation. Whereas Emma is either naïve or blinding herself. I hope my hypotheses will be confirmed in the 3rd volume.