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June 03, 2020, 07:35:42 am

Author Topic: English Advanced - Module B - Emma Response  (Read 417 times)

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English Advanced - Module B - Emma Response
« on: October 08, 2019, 08:16:29 pm »
Hi, this is my rewritten response to the 2019 Catholic Trials paper. I would like it to be marked, thankyou.

Central to prose fiction is narrative perspective
To what extent does this statement reflect our understanding of the prose fiction text you have studied?

The importance of narrative perspective and how it greatly helps our understanding of certain prose texts, is highlighted in Jane Austen’s 1815 novel ‘Emma’. ‘Emma’ is set in the fictional setting of Highbury, whereby its protagonist Emma is a high contributor to the many occurrences and misunderstandings which happen throughout the novel. Through the prose fiction’s narrative perspective, the audience is given a greater understanding of these events.  The importance of this narrative perspective is exemplified by Austen using it as an experiential didactic tool for her audience. By presenting subjective & objective perspectives to her readers simultaneously, these conflicting perspectives portray multiple realities that challenge readers’ assumptions about how to relate to certain characters and how characters relate to one another. Three techniques which Austen utilises to convey narrative perspective, and hence improve our understanding throughout the novel are omniscient narrator, irony and the manner of free indirect discourse.
The narrative of ‘Emma’ is driven through Austen’s effective use of free indirect discourse as a form of narrative perspective. Through this technique, the narrator details the story from different characters’ points of view, which subsequently allows the reader to follow the novel through different perspectives. The changing perspectives enhance the audience’s understanding of the different characters as we are given an insight into their personal thoughts and feelings. As the protagonist, much of the narrative is driven through the character Emma, whereby the reader is privy to Emma’s thoughts & fantastical determination to ignore facts. Through free indirect discourse, the narrator remains in the third person to comment on Emma’s thoughts and feelings, whilst speaking them.
Within the novel, free indirect discourse is first used to arouse suspicion and make the narrative debatable, however, as the plot unfolds readers may generate emotions and pay more attention to characters like Emma who demand it. Its centrality to the prose fiction novel is highlighted by Austen’s consistent use of it throughout, especially to comment on the thought processes of the protagonist Emma. An example is seen in Emma’s initial evaluation of Harriet, as she describes her to be “a very pretty girl, and her beauty happened to be of a sort which Emma particularly admired.... Emma was as much pleased with her manners as her person, and quite determined to continue the acquaintance.”  In this excerpt, the reader learns of Harriet's beauty of which Emma admires, as these thoughts are said through Emma’s own point of view. However, as Emma continues her evaluation of Harriet the reader is given even greater insight into Emma’s personality whereby she perceives herself to have a higher social status than Harriet, and therefore thinks she is better than her, in “...that she must have good sense and deserve encouragement. Encouragement should be given.” Therefore, through this depiction of Emma’s consideration, via free indirect discourse, Austen slowly leads the reader to understand Emma’s way of thinking.

As Austen focuses on Harriet’s misfortunes in Emma’s thoughts, through free indirect discourse, the reader better understands the motives of Emma in befriending Harriet, and how Emma places emphasis on social status due to the fact she perceives herself as a higher class. However, Emma’s perceived standard of ‘help’ does not necessarily impact Harriet in a positive way, as Harriet is already content with her character and doesn’t need social improvement. Therefore, this further enhances the audience’s understanding of Emma as someone who priorities social status over internal happiness, with the use of free indirect discourse puzzling the readers as while Emma interferes in Harriet’s potential marriages, the readers must have no objection or say.
Paragraph 2 - omniscient  narrator (base this paragraph on the narrator’s perspective basically)
In Emma, Jane Austen uses mixed modes of narrative perspective. In particular, she uses an omniscient narrator, a traditional novelistic technique allowing her to comment on other characters’ thoughts and feelings, and on their characters. Through this, the audience is able to better understand and observe the details of each character, particularly Emma, and sometimes Knightley.

Throughout the novel, Austen allows the narrator to offer deep thoughts when a character acts shallow or torpid. These moments of description give a sense of broader social consensus.  An example of this is when the audience is introduced to Emma’s initial impression on Jane Fairfax’s appearance , where she comments "Her height was pretty, just such as almost every body would think tall, and nobody could think very tall; her figure particularly graceful; her size a most becoming medium, between fat and thin, though a slight appearance of ill-health seemed to point out the likeliest evil of the two." Through this clear use of humorous wordplay, Austen’s narrator is able to convince the audience of both Emma’s opinion of Jane, and Emma’s opinion about what society as a whole considers to be beautiful. This wordplay also gives the audience a chance to separate Emma’s opinion, with those of Highbury society as a whole.

Additionally, Austen’s use of an omniscient narrator can be observed in the introduction to the protagonist Emma, “The real evils.. 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….The danger, however, was ...so unperceived, that they did not by any means rank as misfortunes with her.” Here the narrator exercises heavy control, analyzing Emma’s character, her “disposition” and the dangers which threaten her happiness. The narrator is also able to comment on Emma in an indirect way, by the employment of an ironic tone. The audience is informed of Emma’s power of having her own way, not being a misfortune to her. However, later on, this is revealed as an understatement, as we eventually come to learn that Emma’s entire happiness depends on having her own way constantly.
Finally, the technique of irony is used within ‘Emma’ to enhance the readers’ understanding of this prose fiction. It is created throughout the novel by the narrator speaking Emma’s thoughts and feelings, however, remaining in the 3rd person in order to comment on them. Additionally, this form of irony is often used in Emma to establish the reader's double vision of the heroine, as it is dependant on readers feeling they understand more than the narrator, or the characters themselves.

Following on, in ‘Emma’, irony, as a form of narrative perspective, is interwoven within many events occurring within the novel, in order to make commentary on the character’s thoughts and feelings.
 This is made evident after Emma argues with Mr. Knightely over the suitability of Mr. Elton to be Harriet's husband, “Mr. Knightely could not have observed him as she had done.. nor (she must be allowed to tell herself, in spite of Mr. Knightley’s pretensions) with the skill of such an observer on such a question as herself… he had rather said what he wished resentfully to be true”
Here the narrator dives into Emma’s consciousness, using her words to describe the situation. However, the irony present at this point is that the reader has witnessed Mr. Elton constantly complimenting and paying attention to Emma, as signs of his preference for Emma. For example, when Elton saw Emma’s portrait of Harriet, he promptly states “I cannot keep my eyes from it”, which Emma falsely interprets as admiration towards Harriet. However, the irony lies beneath/within this false interpretation, as the audience comes to understand his compliment was directed at Emma’s artistic skills, not Harriet's appearance. Thus, it is Emma who has “pretensions” over her own ability to perceive the intentions of others. It can be seen as extremely ironic that Emma believes herself to be astutely describing Mr. Knightley when she’s actually describing her own shortcomings, especially since the word “pretensions” not only means to lay claim to something but also to adopt ‘pretentious’ airs and graces and snobbish affectations, which more accurately describes Emma and not Knightley.

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