Emma Woodhouse is the heroine of the novel. She is twenty-one years old and "handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition" (Austen 1). One would expect her to be somewhat mature, because she has been the head of the household since her mother died long ago and her sister Isabella had been married. Nevertheless, only when taking care of her father she truly appears grown-up, since she is aware of the behaviour that is expected from her. Even though she herself deeply regrets that her old governess Miss Taylor, "who had fallen little short of a mother in affection" (Austen 1), had married Mr. Weston, she does not show her sadness but "happy was she, for her father's sake" (Austen 13). Besides this, Emma's action seem rather immature in the beginning of the novel. She overly praises her own abilities in matchmaking and thus her abilities to know and understand people.
Moreover, her self-confidence is anything but low and as Mr. Knightley explains, she "is spoiled by being the cleverest of her family" (Austen 23). Her inability to understand people and the thusly resulting conflicts are the heart of the novel. The three biggest mistakes Emma makes are for once, when she tries to set Harriet up with the gentleman Mr. Elton although Harriet's social position would rather suit the local farmer Mr. Martin. Yet Emma is firm in her viewpoint and states that, "Mr. Martin may be [richer than Mr. Elton], but he is undoubtedly [Harriet's] inferior as to rank is society. The sphere in which he moves is much above his. It would be a degradation" (Austen 40). Her second big mistake is to not see through Mr. Frank Churchill's little game with her but keeps flirting with him...