over the course of the novel, Emma has several epiphanies about herself and her behavior. which one is the most significant to the narrative and why?
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Although Emma is well-meaning in the novel, she is also surprisingly blind to her own desires and emotions. It is only after she faces the prospect of losing Mr. Knightley to Harriet that she realizes that she has feelings for him. After all of her mistakes with Mr. Elton, Frank Churchill, and Miss Bates, it is this error in judgement that is most unexpected for Emma: the realization that all of her vows against love and marriage have distracted her from the truth of her emotions. Significantly, just as Mr. Knightley guided Emma in her other mistakes, he serves as the catalyst for Emma's epiphany about herself,
A few minutes were sufficient for making her acquainted with her own heart. A mind like hers, once opening to suspicion, made rapid progress; she touched--she admitted--she acknowledged the whole truth. Why was it so much worse that Harriet should be in love with Mr. Knightley than with Frank Churchill? Why was the evil so dreadfully increased by Harriet’s having some hope of a return? It darted through her with the speed of an arrow that Mr. Knightley must marry no one but herself! pg 387