Jane Austen’s ‘EMMA’ [novel] as a comedy of Errors.
Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’ is full of characters both men and women, who played the role of lovers to one another. They commit blunders, but their actions do not lead to tragic results, instead they lead to happy unions between the couples. This fact makes the novel a regular comedy of errors, like some Shakespearean plays. The errors of the pairs of lovers contribute with large amount of laughter and humour.
Emma, the heroine of the novel commits the greatest blunder when she prevented Harriet from marrying Robert Martin thinking that Harriet belongs to a gentle family while Robert to a common farmers family. Then Knightly revealed that Harriet was the daughter of a tradesman, who could not be regarded as someone superior to a farmer in social status or in blood.
Emma pushed Harriet on Mr. Elton, the Vicar of Highbury, who had an eye on Emma herself, as Emma was a maiden of £30,000 a year. Knightly knew that Elton would never marry a portionless girl. Emma took all his charades lightly and when in the carriage, returning from the dinner at Randells, he proposed to Emma, but she rejected. So Elton ran away to Waymouth and got in touch with Augusta Hawkins and married her as a woman worth £ 10, 000 a year.
Also Emma’s understanding that Harriet was in love with Frank, too was wrong. He was playing a double game with three girls, Emma, Harriet and Jane. He was secretly engaged to Jane. Emma’s blunder was that she failed to understand Harriet. Emma was misled by Harriet’s report about Mr.Knightly’s behaviour towards Harriet. Thus this provides great material for a good comedy of Errors.
Another serious blunder that Emma committed was to believe that Mr. Dixon who was married to Miss Campbell was in love with Jane and Emma imagined that Dixon loved Jane as she was far more beautiful, who could sing and play on piano much better than miss Campbell; but all her doubts and miscalculations meet into the air when she comes to know that Jane is engaged to Frank.
Emma again commits blunder as she thought that Frank is in love with her because he made cutting remarks about Jane, and also he behaved most gallantly towards Emma in the presence of Jane. However, he made it clear about Emma’s misunderstanding in his letter to Mrs.Weston.
Emma did not really understand either Harriet or Mr.Elton or Frank or Jane or George Knightly, even she was unable to understand her own mind and this makes the novel a great comedy of Errors.
It is not only Emma who committed blunders but every one of the lovers did commit the same, and then came to realize his or her own foolery. The beauty of the blunders in ‘Emma’ is that no character feels shocked, but recovers quickly from it, and in the end feels quite happy when united in marriage with the lover or beloved. ‘Emma’ is not a tragedy but a comedy of errors, and the errors of the characters create comic situation and provide hearty laughter.