Characters who make mistakes and learn from them are almost as much fun to read about as characters who say and do foolish things all the time –and never learn anything. Emma contains a good balance of both: Austen creates a social world chock-full of romantic missteps, social gaffs, and just plain silly social conventions. In so doing, she points out the ways that society constructs ridiculous expectations of people – but she also emphasizes the fact that people depend upon social conventions in order to make it through life. No one is free from folly. Perhaps that’s what makes almost everyone in Emma so likeable.
Emma never really learns from her mistakes. She’s as irrational at the end of the novel as she is at its start.
Mr. Knightley’s utter lack of foolishness makes him a rather uninteresting character – a fact that Austen herself seems to ignore.