Novel and Emma

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The Imperfect Heroin in Prose Fiction

There is one particular feature that sets the novel apart from any other literary genre. Literature has the ability to transport you into a world that is a product of individual imagination yet the realism expressed in the novel serves as a tool or road that leads to the emerging of conceived images. It is a time travel that has the ability to restore any period of growth in society and humanity in general. Many times we refer to the novel when deciphering morality and lifestyles of earlier centuries. Philosophers and writers hypothesized on the definition of this genre and how it differentiates from earlier works. Jane Austen wrote several books that have been studied for their content of realism. Emma depicts domestic realism that is expressed mainly through the heroin of the novel.

Ian Watt, author of an acknowledged theory written on the novel, The Rise of the Novel wrote: "it (the novel) surely attempts to portray all the varieties of human experience, and not merely those suited to one particular literary perspective: the novel's realism does not reside in the kind of life it presents, but in the way it presents it" (Watt 364). Earlier works portrayed the lives of kings, gods, and heroes. Most aimed to serve with a moral or were of metaphysical value. There was a sense of transcendence into eternity. Philosophers of the aesthetics claimed only that which can transports us beyond time and space is a true work of art and this was what most writers of early literary works aspired, immortality. What sets the novel apart from this romantic view is its imitation of reality. The novel rejects the universal and embraces the particular; "the study of the particulars of experience by the individual investigator, who, ideally at least, is free from the body of past assumptions and traditional beliefs; and it has given a peculiar importance to semantics, to the problem of the nature of correspondence between words and reality." (watt 365).

The character of Emma Woodhouse in Jane Austen's novel depicts the realism in prose fiction. The novel Emma recounts the story of a twenty one year old woman in the Regency of England who is beautiful and intelligent yet very self-conscious and overindulged. The pursuit of marriage to attain higher social standard serves as the main plot. The audience is presented a world of the wealthy social class through the life style of the books heroin, Emma. There is a struggle in the development of her character and a comedy in the errors she makes. Although written in third person point of view, we comprehend the occurrences through Emma's point of view. She is a particular character with a unique account of experiences. As the reader, one is often bemused about Emma's apprehension of morals and her predominant concern of etiquette and rules of society. Emma Woodhouse is introduced as "handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition". (Austen 55) Her world is described as carefree and untroubled. She roams in a high-class society where she is greatly respected. Above all her father holds a very high opinion of Emma. There is downside to all this fortune: "The real evil indeed of Emma's situation were the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself: (…)" (Austen 55). This portrayal of Emma's character foreshadows that her high self-consciousness will be the cause to several complications in her life. Throughout the novel, one gets acquainted with Emma's most personal contemplations. This allows comprehension of her way of thought. Her observation of occurrences is always present impelling the reader to occasionally doubt her reflections. Emma is the heroin of the novel. The influence of realism changed the portrayal of the hero in the literary work essentially. No longer was this character flawless. The hero became a character of imperfections in prose fiction. M. M....
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