How does Jane Austen employ irony at different levels in Emma?
This irony is compounded with her indecision in how to respond to the news of Mr. Churchill's secret engagement...
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The greatest irony in "Emma" is that Emma herself does not see reality, which Austen allows the reader to see. The humour comes when she is caught out in her own fancy and reality intrudes. A good example of this is the episode about Emma’s portrait of Harriet. At no point does Emma realise the Mr. Elton is interested in her, rather than Harriet. She is oblivious to even the most obvious clues about his motives, yet we can clearly see what is happening. From the manner in which Mr. Elton behaves it is obvious to the reader that he is much more interested in Emma Woodhouse than in Harriet Smith. Ironically, Emma believes that he falls in love with Harriet due to her scheming. As readers we are fully aware of the real situation and the humour comes from the tension that builds up from here to the final climax of Mr. Elton’s proposal to Emma.