Emma was an independent woman who stood her ground as she tried to stand tall in the upper class society that she belonged to. She made it a point to help those that she felt needed help when it came to love and marriage. She thought that she was very accomplished at being a matchmaker. She never intended to cause harm or illusion just pleasure and self-fulfillment. Austen portrayed her as confident, not selfish and showed how a person could grow individually. Even though Emma was strong willed and strong minded she had a lot of growing up to do. She had to learn how to love and to let love in. In the end, the Emma who was always in control of her feelings did what she finally felt was right and accepted it.
Emma fell in love. It was new to her and she quickly had to adjust. At first she felt that since she was an independent woman that she did not need to marry. She honestly believed she did not need a man to take care of her financially so she had no desire to marry. At one time she felt that she was in love with Frank Churchill but realized these were not honest feelings. She found herself constantly contradicting herself about him. Love is not love if it is doubted. His flattering her kept her interested but only for a short time. She even grew concerned of his lack of interest in her “she had no doubt to his being less in love but neither his agitated spirits nor his hurrying away, seemed like a perfect cure; and she was rather inclined to think it implied a dread of her returning power, and a discreet resolution of not trusting himself with her long” (206). She wanted to know what it was like to be in love and to have that love returned. She thought that she could get that from Mr. Churchill but she was wrong. They could only be friends since he was secretly engaged to another. It was when she was at the Ball and Mr. Churchill was gone that she realized that she was in love with someone else.
She developed a conflicting relationship with Mr. Knightley. “She hoped they might now become friends again. She thought that it was time to make up. Making-up indeed would not do. She certainly had not been in the wrong, and he would never own up that he had” (64). He always revealed Emma’s faults to her. Even though it would anger her sometimes she still took his comments into consideration sometimes expecting an apology from him but knowing she would never get one even though she wasn’t in the wrong. This kept Emma in control of her relationship with Mr. Knightley. He would never admit to being at fault. This was the basis of their relationship all through the novel. She knew what to expect and what not to expect. Austen used this sort of relationship to show that women can maintain independence about themselves against dominant males by using thinking and logic. Emma was allowed to remain strong and valid with her viewpoints, thoughts, and ideas even when a man who likes to challenge and contradict her argues them.
Emma and Mr. Kightley were the couple that fights with one another on certain issues; a couple that may not like each other externally but loves each other internally. It was meant to grow from conflicting to connecting. She needed him so that she could contradict herself at times. He helped her to grow and learn as a person. Their love, hate relationship continued to grow and Emma took more notice of him. “He could not have appeared to greater advantage perhaps anywhere, than where he had placed himself. His tall, firm, upright figure, among the bulky forms and stooping shoulders of elderly men, was such as Emma felt must draw everybody’s eyes” (212). Everything that she had negatively felt about him before was dismissed at the Ball. For “when she caught his eye, she forced him to smile; but in general he was looking grave. She wished he could love a Ball Room better, and could like Frank Churchill better” (212). She found him more attractive than the man she thought that she was in love with, Frank Churchill. She found Mr. Knightley more appealing and attractive that night and didn’t feel bad about it at all. Austen chose a pivotal moment for Emma to realize that she was in love with Mr. Knightley.
The fact that she noticed him standing in the Ball Room and the force with which she got him to smile proved her love for him. At the end when Mr. Knightley professes his love for Emma her reaction “was almost ready to sink under agitation of this moment. The dread of being awakened from the happiest dream was perhaps the most prominent feeling “(282). He couldn’t believe what he was saying anymore than she could believe what she was hearing. It was then that Emma let go of all of her inhibitions and let love in. Austen waited until the end of the novel to build the anticipation. She did this on purpose to build tension between a strong woman and an authorative man.
The tension turned into love. In the end “what totally different feelings did Emma take back into the house from what she had brought out! She had then been only daring to hope for little respite of suffering;–she was now in an exquisite flutter of happiness and such happiness moreover as she believed must still be greater when the flutter should have passes away” (284). Emma accepted these feelings. Even though she was still in control of her feelings she accepted them which made her genuinely happy enough to let herself go. Emma was a romance novel with comedy reliefs. The power struggle wasn’t love, it was acceptance. Emma’s intentions always were to help and not hurt anyone. She needed to learn how to love and to be loved honestly. When Emma let go and accepted love from Mr. Knightley that is exactly what happened.