Choose a minor character from either Emma or The Old Curiosity Shop and explain whether this character falls into the categories of the worker or the eccentric that Alex Woloch argues are the two main types of minorness. How does understanding this character type of minorness help us to understand something about the society in which this character lives? In setting up your argument, be sure to indicate why Woloch believes it is important to conceptualize minor characters in this fashion.

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One important minor character in Jane Austen’s novel is Frank Churchill. He fits Alex Woloch’s characterization of an eccentric in that he disrupts life in Highbury and has a strong negative—although temporary—influence on Emma . He distracts Emma from her customarily generous behavior and misleads her into thinking that...

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One important minor character in Jane Austen’s novel is Frank Churchill. He fits Alex Woloch’s characterization of an eccentric in that he disrupts life in Highbury and has a strong negative—although temporary—influence on Emma. He distracts Emma from her customarily generous behavior and misleads her into thinking that he has honorable romantic intentions. It is his prompting that leads Emma to humiliate Miss Bates (and herself); her later admitting her error is an important step in her maturity. Frank is somewhat outside social boundaries, because he was pushed aside by his father. Moreover, he cannot be a serious contender for Emma’s affections, because he is already engaged to Jane Fairfax; this deceptive behavior reveals him as unethical.

An eccentric character, according to Alex Woloch, is one who plays a disruptive role in the book’s plot; they take an oppositional stance in relationship to society or, frequently, the protagonist. The eccentric is dissatisfied with their social position and makes efforts to change it, often in an irritating, if not outright threatening or illegal, way. The character does not succeed, however; they may be physically or emotionally injured, expelled from their social group, removed from their job, or even killed.

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