Jane Austen's Emma Beautiful dresses, passionate romances, elegant parties, a general state of leisure and happiness – these are only a few of the idealistic views of the nineteenth century. In her novel, Emma, Jane Austen paints a much more realistic picture of the ins and outs of high society in England of the 1800’s. Through the presumptions and pride of the characters of heroine, Emma Woodhouse, and secondary character, Mrs. Elton, Austen presents a stark critique of the social assumptions and diplomatic maneuvering so common of the society of her time, however, by the end of the novel, Austen’s critique is made clear by a subtle foil of these two characters – Emma having been the only one of the two to learn her lesson. Both of these two ladies, each high in status, display somewhat of a god-complex, taking it upon themselves to partially assist, but mostly re-mold, women whom they view as inferior to themselves. Though Mrs. Elton does this in a much less tactful and more forceful way, she and Emma both view their respective pupils as a pawn to be toyed with and, ultimately, a display of their superiority. Emma’s fancies of becoming a puppet-master begin when she is in the company of Harriet Smith, a girl attending Mrs. Goddard’s boarding school. Austen tells Emma’s thoughts, writing, “She would notice her… improve her… detach her from her bad acquaintance, and introduce her into good society; she would form her opinions and her manners. It would be an interesting, and certainly a very kind undertaking; highly becoming her own situation in life, her leisure and powers” (37-38). This passage makes clear Emma’s intentions of whittling Harriet into what Emma deemed best, not just to better Harriet’s situation, but to compliment her own. Mrs. Weston, Emma’s former governess, refers to Harriet as Emma’s “new object of interest” (47), further showing Emma’s lordship over Harriet. This concept of Harriet being Emma’s toy is made even clearer when Emma paints a likeness of Harriet. Austen tells that Emma embellishes the painting “as she meant to throw in a little improvement to the figure, to give a little more height and considerably more elegance” (55). In doing this, Emma completes her re-creation, for now she has formed Harriet’s demeanor and given her a new physical image as well. As if this were not enough, Emma also reigns over Harriet’s love life. After Harriet is proposed to by Mr. Martin, whom the reader is left to assume that she actually does love, Emma talks her into refusing the proposal and denying her feelings for him. It may be said that Harriet is too submissive in all matters with Emma, but certainly Emma’s class superiority to Harriet’s demanded respect. But this is the very thing that Emma takes advantage of as she tells Harriet that in marrying Mr. Martin, she would be forfeiting Hartfield, Emma’s home, because Emma could not stoop so low as to be in acquaintance with a farmer and his wife. This near dictatorship over Harriet is a constant theme of their relationship for the majority of the novel. The relationship between Emma and Harriet is in many ways paralleled in that of Mrs. Elton and Jane Fairfax, who, like Harriet, has no roots to claim, and is viewed by Mrs. Elton as being in great need of a superior lady to guide her. Of Jane’s situation, Mrs. Elton says to Emma, “We must bring her forward.... One can see that she feels the want of encouragement…. I am a great advocate for timidity – and I am sure one does not often meet with it. – But in those who are at all inferior, it is extremely possessing…. We have carriages to fetch and convey her home, and we live in a style which could not make the addition of Jane Fairfax, at any time, the least inconvenient” (29). This speech can so easily be looked upon as mimicking the aforementioned thoughts Emma had of Harriet. Even in demanding an authoritative voice in her “creation’s” life, Mrs. Elton resembles Emma, though she is not met with as passive a manner of Harriet’s. Upon hearing that Jane walked to the post-office in the rain, Mrs. Elton says, “It is a sign I was not there to take care of you” (238), showing the extreme amount of importance she believes to carry in Jane’s life. This incident makes Mrs. Elton feel the need to offer Jane her oh-so-mighty assistance. She tells Jane, “The man who fetches our letters every morning (one of our men, I forget his name) shall inquire for your’s too… from us I really think, my dear Jane, you can have no scruple to accept such an accommodation” (238). Despite Jane’s insistent refusal, unwilling to give up her early walk and, perhaps, unwilling to be domineered, Mrs. Elton will not relent. Though it made very clear that Mrs. Elton is really of no importance to Jane and Emma is to Harriet, she, as well as Emma, considers herself to be utterly essential to her inferior. Though this quality cannot be seen as expressly in Mrs. Elton, Emma’s matchmaking is very important to Austen’s critique of the presumptuous clout and prideful scheming of upper-class women. Austen gives Emma this persona from the very beginning of the novel as Emma commends herself on successfully marrying-off her former governess. Emma says, “… I made up my mind on the subject. I planned the match from that hour; and when such success has blessed me in this instance, dear papa, you cannot think that I shall leave off match-making” (29). Emma arrogantly sees her “talents” as being of utmost importance to the happiness of others. In these schemes, she is nearly delusional and twists the emotions of others based merely upon conjecture. In Harriet’s case, Emma advises her not to marry Mr. Martin, whose class is, in actuality, equal if not better than that which Harriet’s rootless background gives her claim to, simply because Emma wants Harriet to marry Mr. Elton. In doing this, Emma convinces both herself and Harriet of Elton’s love for Harriet by creating Mr. Elton’s intentions to be something which they actually are not. She tells Harriet that Harriet’s likeness, which Mr. Elton took to frame, “is in his companion all this evening, his solace, his delight. It opens his designs to his family, it introduces you among them, it diffuses through the party those pleasantest feelings of our nature, eager curiosity and warm prepossession” (62). Harriet believes Emma’s affirming speculations to be truth, and it serves to strengthen her feelings for a man who does not really love her. Emma herself knows that these are merely guesses, and this is made clear when, upon seeing Mr. Elton and Harriet together, she “felt the glory of having schemed successfully” (88). The word “schemed” her points clearly to the fact that Emma knows she is working with assumptions. Mrs. Elton does some scheming of her own, though not in the same way that Emma does. While Emma attempts to create romantic ties, Mrs. Elton attempts to create social ties. She too considers herself quite the expert in her field of matchmaking, just as Emma does in hers. Austen writes that Mrs. Elton had “so little judgment that she thought herself coming with superior knowledge of the world, to enliven and improve a country neighborhood” (227). Mrs. Elton’s firm belief of the influential connections she could create between her new and former friends is also revealed as she speaks to Emma about going to Bath. Mrs. Elton says, “It would be a charming introduction for you, who have lives so secluded a life; and I could immediately secure you some of the best society in the place. A line from me would bring you a little host of acquaintance” (223). Mrs. Elton also presumes to find Jane a job being a governess, despite Jane’s arguments of waiting: …it was with a cousin of Mrs. Bragge, an acquaintance of Mrs. Suckling, a lady known at Maple Grove. Delightful, charming, superior, first circles, spheres, lines, ranks, every thing – and Mrs. Elton was wild to have the offer closed immediately… and positively refused to take her friend’s negative, though Miss Fairfax continued to assure her that she would not at present engage in any thing… (287-288). Just as Emma persists in her plans with Harriet, so Mrs. Elton does with Jane, though Mrs. Elton reveals a much more tacky manner in doing so, especially in spite of all Jane’s resistance. Through these two characters, Austen has revealed a most deplorable side of nineteenth century Britain’s upper-class, and the ending of the book continues in this critiquing fashion, only it is through the women’s differences, rather than similarities. Emma comes to see her faults and claims them, as Austen tells, “With insufferable vanity had she believed herself in the secret of everybody’s feelings; with unpardonable arrogance proposed to arrange everybody’s destiny. She was proved to have been universally mistaken; and she had not quite done nothing – for she had done mischief” (327-238). Every laments her wrongdoing and accepts the credit due her for Harriet’s unhappiness. Later, in a manner quite unlike her, Emma tells Jane Fairfax, “Oh! if you knew how much I love everything that is decided and open!” (363), further revealing her character change, as Emma is usually one to indulge her imagination and presume her own truths. Mrs. Elton, however, undergoes no such change, as is seen in her visit to Jane Fairfax. When Emma enters the room, Mrs. Elton does everything possible to reveal to Emma that she knows a secret that Emma, she thinks, does not. This scene is one the last in the novel, indicating that Mrs. Elton’s character, unlike Emma’s, will be static. Emma’s response to this situation is highly commendable, as she makes no hint that she knows the very secret Mrs. Elton refers to. It is after this that Emma tells Jane her preference of having things in the open. These two situations, back to back, serve to foil the two characters of Emma and Mrs. Elton – Emma coming away the more respectable of the two. Through Emma and Mrs. Elton, Jane Austen makes clear her vast understanding of the society in which she lives, and she shakes her finger to it. The heartache that both characters cause, Mrs. Elton in Jane Fairfax and Emma in Harriet, serves as a reproach to the gossipy, haughty, conspiring women in her society. Mr. Knightly, who serves as Emma’s conscience through most of the novel, best portrays the lesson by telling Emma, “Mystery; Finesse – how they pervert the understanding!” (352), and it is this advice that Austen makes clear throughout her novel. Works Cited Austen, Jane. Emma. Ed. R.W Chapman. Rev. Mary Lascelles. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006.
Views of Marriage in Jane Austen's Emma The dominant theme that constantly runs through this novel is that of marriage. All of the important activities of the novel are focused around various attempts from Emma, to arrange them, prevent them, or hinder them; this idea is empathized in both chapter 1, where Emma replies in discussion to Miss Taylor's marriage "I made up my mind on the subject. I planned the match from that hour", and in chapter 7 when Emma is told by Harriet of Mr Martins proposal and uses clever manipulation over Harriet to influence her rejecting decision: "You think I ought to refuse him then?...Ought to refuse him! My dear Harriet, what do you mean? Are you in doubt as to that?...I lay down a general rule, Harriet, that if a woman doubts as to whether she would accept a man or not, she certainly ought to refuse him". This in itself instantly portrays the idea of Emma and her interfering nature of marriages and relationships which is quite obviously going to increase as the novel moves on. The novel itself actually begins on the wedding-day of Miss Taylor to Mr Weston; something significant in introducing the theme of marriage to the novel early. This particular engagement is another one from which as been set up by Emma. This marriage and idea of Emma loving match-making being introduced so early in the novel brings a certain impetus into the reading, and expands the readers imagination into how and why the three major couplets; Knightley and Emma, Robert Martin and Harriet and Frank Churchill could all end up being close. Other than these major couplets, most of what happens in the novel is generally to do with people proposing and being accepted or rejected, marriage plans falling through, and various well-meant attempts at match making from Emma. The importance of marriage as a theme in this novel has to be judged against the background of ideas on the subject in Jane Austen day. For middle class women such as Emma and Jane Fairfax, making a suitable marriage was an important matter. Emma's great wealth which she appears to have control of produces her reasons in which she does not need to be married, and should stay independent: Emma acknowledges this in chapter 10, "I must see somebody very superior to anyone I have seen yet, to be tempted". Here Emma is beside herself and highlights almost a snobbishness of a class society that continues to run though the novel. It is this idea of a class society that Emma tends to use as her framework for her match making. Within chapter ten, the whole conversation between Harriet and Emma is particularly based upon the subject of marriage. Emma declares that she has "non of the usual inducements of women to marry". Apart from love, which is the only thing that Emma says would induce her to marry, she mentions three reasons why a middle-class women might be anxious to change her single state; to increase her material property, to increase her social importance, and to have an occupation has mistress of the house. Each one of these Emma already withholds in some way or another, introducing an idea that Emma may never actually marry. This builds up a structure of reaction for when Emma is later proposed to by both Mr Elton and then Mr Knightley. In the world of Austen, marriage depended a great deal upon two fundamental factors; equality of social class and background and equality of fortune. It is true that Jane Austen does not allow these two considerations to dominate to the leaving out of all others. Jane Fairfax, for example, although she has no personal fortune, marries Frank Churchill, the heir to a great property. In spite of all Emma's efforts, Harriet Smith does not eventually marry outside of her social sphere. Jane Fairfax, in spite of her lack of fortune, is in every other way Frank Churchill's equal, particularly in birth and breeding, and the marriage of Emma and Mr Knightley results in the perfect match from Jane Austen's point of view, founded correctly on social, material and moral equality. The various efforts from Emma for match making, some successful, some not, are a way in which Jane Austen has provided unity and interest throughout the novel and are the source of most satisfying ironies. As already said, the initial promotion of match making is highlighted in chapter 1 in relation to the marriage of Miss Taylor and Mr Weston. Of this marriage we are told that "Emma had always wished and promoted the match". This chapter is dominated with thoughts such as this, ending with Emma showing determination to continue her activities in the match making field. Throughout the novel, Mr Knightley is the character that shrewdly observes that Emma and her match making is more likely to do more harm than good. With this in mind, there is an irony in what immediately follows, as Emma declares her resolution to find a match for Mr Elton the vicar. In this particular activity she will do even more harm to herself than even Mr Knightley could foresee. Her attempts to match Harriet and Mr Elton ends abruptly in chapter 15 after Mr Elton's proposal of marriage to Emma, and results in a huge embarrassment from Emma. Overall therefore, throughout this novel, each chapter is vigorously based upon marriage in one way or another, and in the whole is attempting to represent the views and opinions of people in Jane Austen's time, in particular in the light of gender, class and material differences.
Jane Austen's Emma belongs to a period in English history known as the Regency (1811—1820). But as a literary figure writing at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Austen can be considered a descendant of the Age of Reason. It was a time of economic revolt, political unrest, and change. Marriage is a main theme in almost all of Jane Austen’s works and it is always shown in the woman’s point of view. Marriage, in that time, is not about love but social standards. Lack of choice is one of the factors why woman married in Jane Austen’s time. Women didn’t have education. They learnt only basic responsibilities. Young girls were taught that they had to get married and have children when they get older. The education is received at home, the parents taught them about domestic duties only and it is how to become wives and nothing else. A woman was not expected to work unless she was poor and had no choice. If she didn’t married, she could work as a governess or a companion lady. So as a result of a lack of education women have to find a husband to support them. These social and financial pressures results in women getting married. The parents used to search for a man that had a title and could advance the family social status. Marriages of daughters were used to secure family business deals, increase wealth and raise status. It was like if women were as objects that could be bought and sold. If a woman were engaged and break it off she would risk living the rest of her life as a spinster and lose social position. Marriage was as complicated in that time as it is today. There were many social rules dictating how a wedding should happen and it was the ultimate goal of every young woman. By the time they were 18, marriage was a priority for them. There were a few rules involving marriage. For example, that marriage was encouraged to be with someone of the same class, or that a woman had to have a dowry that the family used to provide etc. Only a few marriages started with love. Emma has a dowry of £ 30,000. Of course she was an excellent match, that’s why Mr. Elton wanted to court her and why Emma considers the courtship an insult. She could look for a husband much richer. He had to find another bride. So money was always a very important consideration in any marriage, or the social order could not continue. “Emma’s” story is centered on a lot of marriages. These marriages are defined according to the social standing of each character; an important factor is Austen’s time. In that time, the effect of social status on women is well presented in the novel, which were denied the opportunity of improving their position by hard work. On the contrary, the men were encouraged to become successful businessmen, so women hat to put their hopes on matrimony. Their charm and beauty were essential to get a “good” marriage, it is emphasized in “Emma”. The first marriage in the novel is between Miss Taylor and Mr. Weston; Emma and her father discuss it. Miss Taylor used to be their governess, so the weeding is deemed as “a sorrow” to the Woodhouse family. Mr. Woodhouse who doesn’t like changes, says “ what a pity that Mr. Weston ever thought of her!” showing that he does not approve the union. As a “match-maker”, she tries to put together coupes based only that they are single, ignoring the social “rules”. An example is the attempt to join Harriet, “daughter” of no-one in particular” and Mr. Elton, “standard of perfection in all Highbury”. But the difference between Mrs. Elton and Harriet Smith teaches Emma an important lesson that helps her to grow. She understands that matrimony is relationate to social status, and she is able to accept that beauty and character can exist without influence by a low position in life. We realize that even before Emma met Frank Churchill she already imagines that he is a perfect candidate to her husband vacancy, because of what she heard from the people of the town. Marriage was a planned move in Austen’s time, it meant to increase wealth and to grow the social standard. Status was very important to her. That’s why Emma was so interested in what people think of. She is guided by practice not by her heart. More than romance, marriage is meant to give security. Mr. Kinghtley describes one of the fundaments of a good marriage: "'A man would always wish to give a woman a better home than the one he takes her from; and he who can do it, where there is no doubt of her regard, must, I think, be the happiest of mortals.” (Chapter 49, pg. 393) The progression from Jane Austen’s marriage to modern marriage was a slow process. Women began to work more outside of the houses and during the war had to take care of the jobs that their husbands had left when they went to war. Women today have a lot more control in their marriages than they used to. The freedom to marriage who they want is the most part. She can choose to be married as well as have a career. Society does not have control in the lives of married couples as it had in the past time. People have choices and the society have to accept their choices. Women are now free to choose any profession they want and they are becoming highly educated and respectable. Women nowadays marry for different reasons than the women in the Austen’s period. Women seem to marry now for love and physical attraction. It appears that women “Emma’s” time had to fall in love with men that their parents choose for financial or social reasons. A woman these days do not have to be married at a very young age. The institution of marriage will continue to change. The world is different than it was during the Reason period and marriage is not the same. Women have taken control on their life as should be.
About the Author Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775 at Steventon, England. She was the seventh child of the rector of the parish at Steventon, and lived with her family until they moved to Bath when her father retired in 1801. Her father, Reverend George Austen, was from Kent and attended the Tunbridge School before studying at Oxford and receiving a living as a rector at Steventon. Her mother, Cassandra Leigh Austen, was the daughter of a patrician family. Among her siblings she had but one sister, Cassandra, with whom she kept in close contact her entire life. Her brothers entered a variety of professions: several joined the clergy, one was a banker, while several more spent time in the military. Although her family was neither noble nor wealthy, Rev. Austen had a particular interest in education, even for his daughters. Although her novels focus on courtship and marriage, Jane Austen remained single her entire life. She died in Winchester on July 8, 1817. Jane Austen published four novels anonymously during her lifetime: Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1815). Two novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published posthumously in 1817. These novels are prominent for her satiric depiction of English society and manners. Summary of Emma Jane Austen's Emma is a novel of courtship. Like all of Austen's novels, it centres on the marriage plot: who will marry whom? For what reasons will they marry? Love, practicality, or necessity? At the centre of the story is the title character, Emma Woodhouse, an heiress who lives with her widowed father at their estate, Hartfield. At the beginning of the novel, she is a self-satisfied young woman who feels no particular need to marry, for she is in the rather unique condition of not needing a husband to supply her fortune. At the beginning of the novel, Emma's governess, Miss Taylor, has just married Mr. Weston, a wealthy man who owns Randalls, a nearby estate. The Westons, the Woodhouses, and Mr. Knightley (who owns the estate Donwell Abbey) are at the top of Highbury society. Mr. Weston had been married earlier. When his previous wife died, he sent their one child (Frank Churchill) to be raised by her brother and his wife, for the now-wealthy Mr. Weston could not at that time provide for the boy. Without Miss Taylor as a companion, Emma adopts the orphan Harriet Smith as a protégé. Harriet lives at a nearby boarding school where she was raised, and knows nothing of her parents. Emma advises the innocent Harriet in virtually all things, including the people with whom she should interact. She suggests that Harriet not spend time with the Martins, a local family of farmers whose son, Robert, is interested in Harriet. Instead, Emma plans to play matchmaker for Harriet and Mr. Elton, the vicar of the church in Highbury. Emma seems to have some success in her attempts to bring together Harriet Smith and Mr. Elton. The three spend a good deal of leisure time together and he seems receptive to all of Emma's suggestions. The friendship between Emma and Harriet does little good for either of them, however. Harriet indulges Emma's worst qualities, giving her opportunity to meddle and serving only to flatter her. Emma in turn fills Harriet Smith with grand pretensions that do not suit her low situation in society. When Robert Martin proposes to Harriet, she rejects him based on Emma's advice, thinking that he is too common. Mr. Knightley criticizes Emma's matchmaking, since he thinks that the dependable Robert Martin is Harriet's superior, for while he is respectable, she is from uncertain origins. Emma's sister, Isabella, and her husband, Mr. John Knightley, visit Highbury, and Emma uses their visit as an opportunity to reconcile with Mr. Knightley after their argument over Harriet. The Westons hold a party on Christmas Eve for the members of Highbury society. Harriet Smith, however, becomes ill and cannot attend. During the party, Mr. Elton focuses his attention solely on Emma. When they travel home by carriage from the party, Mr. Elton professes his adoration for Emma, and dismisses the idea that he would ever marry Harriet Smith, whom he feels is too common for him. Mr. Elton obviously intends to move up in society, and is interested in Emma primarily for her social status and wealth. Shortly after Emma rejects Mr. Elton, he leaves Highbury for a stay in Bath. Emma breaks the bad news to Harriet Smith. As of this time, Frank Churchill has not yet visited his father and his new wife at Randalls, which has caused some concern. Emma, without having met the young man, decides that he must certainly be a good suitor for her, since he is of appropriate age and breeding. Another character who occupies Emma's thoughts is Jane Fairfax, the granddaughter of Mrs. Bates, an impoverished widow whose husband was the former vicar, and the niece of Miss Bates, a chattering spinster who lives with her mother. Jane is equal to Emma in every respect (beauty, education, talents) except for status, and provokes some jealousy in Emma. Jane will soon visit her family in Highbury, for the wealthy family who brought her up after her parents had died has gone on vacation. There is some indication that Jane might be involved with Mr. Dixon, a married man, but this is only idle gossip. Mr. Elton returns from Bath with news that he is engaged to a Miss Augusta Hawkins. This news, along with an awkward meeting with the Martins, greatly embarrasses poor Harriet Smith. Frank Churchill finally visits the Westons, and Emma is pleased to find that he lives up to her expectations, even though Mr. Knightley disapproves of him. Emma and Frank begin to spend time together, yet he seems somewhat insubstantial and immature. He makes a day trip to London for no other reason than to get his hair cut. Soon afterward, Jane Fairfax receives a pianoforte from London, and Emma assumes that Mr. Dixon sent it to her. As Frank and Emma spend more time together, Mr. Knightley becomes somewhat jealous, while Emma in turn becomes jealous as she suspects that Mr. Knightley might be in love with her rival Jane Fairfax. Frank Churchill must abruptly leave Randalls when he learns that his aunt is unwell. His aunt is an insufferable woman, proud and vain, and she exercises great authority over her nephew. Thinking that Frank was ready to profess his love for her, she convinces herself that she is in love with Frank, but is unsure how to tell that she actually loves him. Finally, she realizes that she must not be in love with him, for she is as happy with him absent as she is with him present. Mr. Elton brings his new wife back to Highbury. She is an insipid name-dropper, who compares everything to the supposedly grand lifestyle of her relatives, the Sucklings and addresses her new aristocrats in Highbury with a startling lack of formality. Emma takes an instant dislike to her, and upon realizing this, Mrs. Elton takes a dislike to Emma. When Frank Churchill returns, he and Emma sponsor a ball at the Crown Inn. During this ball, Mr. Elton openly snubs Harriet Smith, but Mr. Knightley, who graciously dances with her, saves her from his social slight. After the ball, when Harriet and her companions are walking home, they are assaulted by a group of gipsies, but Frank Churchill saves the girl, a situation which becomes the talk of Highbury. This leads Emma to believe that Frank Churchill, whom Emma is sure she does not love, would be a suitable match for Harriet. When discussing what happened the next morning, Harriet does admit that she has some feelings for the man who saved her the night before yet she does not explicitly name Frank. Thanks to this new passion, Harriet finally gets over Mr. Elton. At an outing at Box Hill, Frank Churchill, whose recent behaviour had been questionable, proposes a game for entertaining Emma, and during this game Emma makes a rude comment to Miss Bates. Afterwards, Mr. Knightley severely reprimands Emma for doing so, since Miss Bates is a poor woman who deserves Emma's pity and compassion, and not her scorn and derision. When Emma goes to visit Miss Bates the next day to apologize, she learns that Jane Fairfax has taken ill. She was preparing to leave for Maple Grove to become a governess for a family, a situation that she earlier compared to the slave trade. Emma now begins to pity Jane Fairfax, for she realizes that the only reason that Jane must enter into a profession is her social status. Otherwise, she would be as highly regarded as Emma herself. There is shocking news for Emma when Mrs. Churchill dies. Freed from his overbearing aunt, Frank reveals to the Westons that he has been secretly engaged to Jane Fairfax. Mr. Knightley begins to show a greater romantic interest in Emma, but when she attempts to break the bad news to Harriet Smith about Frank Churchill's engagement (the second heartbreak for Harriet), Emma learns that Harriet in fact had fallen for Mr. Knightley, who saved her socially at the Crown Inn ball. Emma now realizes that she is the only one who can marry Mr. Knightley, and that she has done Harriet a great disservice by making her think that she can aspire to such unreasonable elevation. Mr. Knightley soon professes his love for Emma, and they plan to marry. Yet there are two obstacles: first, if Emma were to marry she would have to leave her father, who dotes on her; second, she must break the news to Harriet Smith. Emma and Mr. Knightley decide that, when they marry, he should move to Hartfield, for Mr. Woodhouse cannot be left alone and would not bear moving to Donwell Abbey. Harriet takes the news about Mr. Knightley well, and soon after she reunites with Robert Martin. The wrongheaded aspirations that Emma encouraged in Harriet are now gone, and she becomes engaged to her original and most appropriate suitor. She even learns of her parentage: her father is a respectable tradesman. The novel concludes with marriage: between Robert Martin and Harriet Smith, Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax, and between Mr. Knightley and Emma Woodhouse, who has grown to accept the possibility of submitting some degree of her independence to a husband. Emma Woodhouse - The novel's title character and protagonist, she is beautiful, charming, quick-witted, and intelligent. "Handsome, clever and rich," Emma is a twenty-one year old daughter of a wealthy gentleman accustomed to "having her own way" and cursed with a "disposition to think a little too well of herself." Although a meddler who demonstrates a maddening self-confidence, Emma is generally well intentioned. The novel is essentially a story of how Emma matures from a clever young woman to a more modest and considerate woman, able to accept the idea of love. Austen declared her to be "a character whom no one but me will much like." Emma is certainly immodest and somewhat self-absorbed, but her missteps and confusion are what make her human. She lives alone with her father and participates with great pleasure in all the village's social events--not least because they provide ample opportunity for matchmaking and flirtation. She does not have many friends her own age, and enthusiastically takes on Harriet Smith as a new project, happily serving as an example of lady-like perfection and pointing out similar exemplars of the perfect gentleman among their male acquaintances. She is a young woman too intelligent for her time; finding no adequate vehicle for her talents, she must put them to use in matters of courtship, gossip, and matchmaking. Quote 1: "doing just what she liked; highly esteeming Miss Taylor's judgments, but directed chiefly by her own. The real evils, indeed, of Emma's situation were the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself...." Chapter 1 Mr. Knightley - A sensible man of thirty-seven, his brother had married Emma's elder sister, Isabella. He is an old family friend. He is the only character who is openly critical of Emma, pointing out her flaws and foibles with great frankness. At the same time, he clearly possesses great affection for her, and all of his advice is aimed at improving Emma's character and behaviour. He lives at Donwell Abbey and rents property to the Martins, a family of wealthy farmers whom he likes and advises. He marries Emma at the end of the novel. Quote: "Mr. Knightley, in fact, was one of the few people who could see faults in Emma Woodhouse, and the only one who ever told her of them...." Chapter 1, pg. 8 Mrs. Isabella Knightley: Emma's elder sister, a pretty, elegant woman of amiable disposition. She is delicate and pales in comparison to the more sharp-witted Emma. Harriet Smith - A short, plump and fair girl of seventeen, she is of somewhat dubious origins. Emma is mostly responsible for bringing Harriet into Highbury society and constantly instructs and advises her, although not always to her benefit. Emma fills her with a pretension that is inappropriate for her status. She exalts Emma and obeys her every suggestion, even casting aside her relationship with Robert Martin because Emma implies that it is beneath her. Supported at school by an unknown sponsor, Harriet's parentage is unknown and she is therefore of a lower class than Emma herself. She is beautiful but not very accomplished, and Emma introduces her to a social circle higher than what she is accustomed to and encourages her to marry into it. In the end, she marries Mr. Martin, a farmer that Emma considers too coarse but is more appropriate in status for Harriet. Frank Churchill - The son of Mr. Weston, he was brought up by his uncles, the Churchills, who could better support him at the time. Highbury society enthusiastically anticipates his visit to his newly married father, but he consistently delays. Frank Churchill is somewhat superficial, more interested in pursuing pleasure than any concrete pursuits, but he is also handsome and charming enough to attract Emma. He is secretly engaged to Jane Fairfax, but cannot reveal this because the aunt who raised him would energetically object. Jane Fairfax - An orphan, the only child of Mrs. Bates' youngest daughter. Upon her mother's death, she was taken in by Colonel Campbell, who served with her father in the army. The same age as Emma, she is equally talented, charming and well-regarded, a fact that quite vexes Emma. She is secretly engaged to Frank Churchill. They naturally become rivals in Emma's mind, though the two maintain a loose friendship. Mr. Woodhouse - Emma's father is a wealthy man possessed of a large estate, Highbury. A hypochondriac, he does not like to keep late hours and panics at the thought of sitting out-of-doors or walking "past the shrubbery." He wants Emma to remain unmarried and keep him company, and he encourages her in all of her pursuits, even matchmaking. Isolated in his estate, Mr. Woodhouse has few enjoyments. Although he dotes on Emma, he also indulges her more selfish tendencies and is largely unpleasant. His complaints and lack of activity make him appear a much older man than he actually is. Mrs. Weston and Mr. Weston - The former Miss Taylor, she raised Emma and remains her adviser and close friend. She left Hartfield to marry Mr. Weston, a local widower, but continues to entertain the young people of the village and encourages an association between Emma and her stepson Frank. He is from a respectable family that has been progressively moving up in society, and amassed a modest fortune. Mr. Elton - Vicar of the church in Highbury whom Emma chooses as a possible suitor for Harriet Smith but who only has interest for Emma herself. After Emma quickly rejects him, he marries the pretentious and rude Augusta Hawkins. Mrs. Elton - She is the daughter of a rich merchant in Bath. She is unpopular in Highbury due to her poor manners and arrogance, but becomes good friends with Jane Fairfax. Her status in society rests only on the fact that her sister married very well. She refuses to treat others with the proper respect they are accorded, including even Mr. Knightley. Mr. John Knightley - A tall, gentleman-like, clever man, respectable and reserved. Emma dislikes him somewhat for his severity and lack of patience. He is Knightley's brother and Woodhouse's son-in-law. He is married to Isabella, Emma's sister. They live in London and visit only occasionally. Mr. John Knightley is given to complaint and bad humour; his wife is submissive and devoted entirely to him. Mrs. Goddard: The mistress of a Boarding school where girls might be sent to receive a little education. Her school was in high repute. One of her former students is Harriet Smith, who now assists Mrs. Goddard. Miss Bates: The daughter of Mrs. Bates, she was neither young, married, handsome nor rich. She is a pitiable character with the worst predicament. She lacks all distinguishing traits such as intellect or cleverness, yet she was mostly happy and treated others with great goodwill.
Emma by Jane Austen Setting Emma took place in small town called Highbury in 18th century England. During the time period set in the novel, there was a definite social rank, or hierarchy. Almost all of the scenes in the book take place in or around the estates of the characters. Their property mostly determined their social status. This setting has significance to the storyline, because of the social rank. Emma, who is constantly trying to play matchmaker, tries to convince her friend Harriet to marry someone of a higher class than her current love, a farmer. The characters are very aware of their status, and can be discriminating towards people of a lower class, such as the farmer. The book was most likely set in this place and time in order to include the conflicts of a hierarchal society. Character Analysis Emma Woodhouse: Emma is the main character of the novel. She is a beautiful, smart, and wealthy 21-year-old woman. Because of her admired qualities, Emma is a little conceited. She is the daughter of Henry Woodhouse. Since her mother has died, Emma has taken the role of taking care of her father, who is old and often sick. Because she feels she is obligated to stay by his side, Emma decides not to marry. Emma believes that she is a good matchmaker, and tries to put together several couples throughout the novel. Emma believes that social classes are very important and refuses to see anyone cross over to marry someone lesser than themselves In chapter 8-page 52, Emma is talking about Harriet’s situation with the farmer with Mr. Knightley. She says, “Mr. Martin is a very respectable young man, but I cannot admit him to be Harriet’s equal. As the novel progresses, Emma becomes more mature, and realizes how silly she had been in the past. In the end, she finally stops matchmaking others and marries Mr. Knightley, who was perfect for her all along. Mr. Knightley: Mr. Knightley is another main character of the novel. He is quite a bit older than Emma, at 38. He is also Emma’s brother in law. He often visits the Hartfield estate to play cards. He is a little protective of Emma, and often gives her advice to change her prying ways. Mr. Knightley, although high in status, does not fully believe in the hierarchal customs of Highbury. He thinks that people’s actions and feelings are better judges of themselves than their title or property. For example, in the same conversation in chapter 8, Mr. Knightley defends his opinions by saying, “No, he is not her equal indeed, for he is as much her superior in sense as in situation…What are Harriet Smith’s claims, either of birth, nature, or education, to any connection higher than Robert Martin?” Knightley is a very nice gentleman, and when he marries Emma in the end, he agrees to live at Hartfield so Emma can take care of her father. Themes and Conflicts In Emma, one of the major themes is self-deception. Throughout the novel, Emma is arrogant, and thinks that she is better than everyone else because of her beauty, charm, intelligence, and wealth. She also believes that she can control other people’s lives. For example, beginning in chapter 3, Emma takes a new woman to Highbury, Harriet Smith, under her wing. She treats her very well, but is trying to turn her into a different person. As the story goes on, Emma unsuccessfully matches her with Mr. Elton, who has no interest in Harriet. In fact, he has great affection towards Emma, but she is so set in her ways of pairing him with Harriet, that she doesn’t even notice that he is interested in her. This is another example of her self-delusion. Mr. Knightly is a key character in this theme, because he is the one who brings Emma to the realization of her foolishness and self-deception. The novel also touches on marriage as a minor theme. It shows that the characters have very different views on marriage. Emma sees it as a fairytale and tries to match couples as a hobby. Harriet has a lot of money in her name, yet chooses to marry someone below her in the social rank, a farmer. Jane, on the other hand, has very little money to offer a husband, and chooses to marry Frank, who is arrogant, yet very wealthy. Emma had the most suitable marriage as far as class standing, to Mr. Knightley. It seems to be the only marriage in the novel that was based around love and respect. All of the conflicts in the story revolve around Emma. She tries to put couples together, but fails almost every time. First, she tried to get Harriet and Mr. Elton together. Instead of falling in love with Harriet, like he was supposed to, Mr. Elton fell in love with Emma. This crushed Harriet, who was very flattered by the misinterpreted attention. The next mistake Emma made was believing that Frank Churchill was in love with her. In reality, he was only using her to hide his marriage to Jane from the town. Emma also lost the friendships of others by acting so superior. The Elton’s didn’t enjoy her company because she was always the center of attention and looking for the praise of others. Ms. Bates was hurt by Emma’s insulting comments at the Box Hill picnic. In trying to make herself look better, Emma consistently made herself look terrible to others. Key Event A major event in the novel was the picnic at Box Hill. This was a turning point for Emma’s character. At the picnic, Emma was in the company of Mr. Knightley, Ms. Bates, Frank Churchill, and the Eltons, among others. The conversation was not very lively, and in trying to start communication, Frank began playing little games. The games were only making people annoyed and upset with the Frank and Emma. The two were being silly and thoughtless. Then, they suggested that everyone say one clever thing, two somewhat interesting things, or three very dull things to keep conversation flowing. Ms. Bates, who was known for making random ramblings, said in good humor that she could easily say three dull things. To this, Emma replied by saying “you will be limited as to number- only three at once.” Ms. Bates didn’t catch on at first, but when she realized what Emma had meant, she blushed with hurt. When they were all leaving the picnic, Emma found Mr. Knightley by her carriage. He told her that she was wrong for making that comment to Ms. Bates, who is a respectable woman. Emma tried to laugh off his criticism of her actions, but was actually feeling sorry. Mr. Knightley wanted to make sure that she understood what she had done, so he continued to condemn her. After their conversation, Emma felt terrible. She cried at the fact that she had been so rude and cruel to someone who was a friend. For days, Emma was depressed, not only because she realized her own flaws, but also because she was looked down upon by Mr. Knightley who she longed to earn the respect of. This was the turning point for Emma as she became determined to be a better person. Quotes · "If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am.You hear nothing but truth from me. I have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have borne it."- Mr. Knightley, Chapter 49 page 379 · "Oh! Miss Woodhouse! Who can think of Miss Smith, when Miss Woodhouse is near." Mr. Elton, Chapter 15, page 115 · "Mr. Knightley, in fact, was one of the few people who could see faults in Emma Woodhouse, and the only one who ever told her of them...." Chapter 1, page 8 · She had been often remiss, her conscience told her so; remiss, perhaps, more in thought than fact; scornful, ungracious. But it should be so no more. In the warmth of true contrition she would call upon her the very next morning, and it should be the beginning, on her side, of a regular, equal, kindly intercourse." Chapter 44, page 346 · "It darted through her with the speed of an arrow that Mr. Knightley must marry no one but herself!" Chapter 47, page 375 Symbolism/Technique/Etc. In the novel, Austen uses connections from the story to real life. She shows the different social classes, and in her tone, it seems like she is looking down on the high-class society. She also shows a positive view of women, because all of the women in the novel serve a purpose and are contributions to society. Austen also touches on the views of marriage during this time period. Jane, who was an orphan with little money, married a wealthy man. Mr. Elton married a woman who seemed to be only convenient. The only successful marriage that followed both the rules of class and love was that of Emma and Mr. Knightley. All of this reflected thoughts of the 18th century. Her writing style was very easy to understand, and she didn’t use too many confusing tricks. Personal Response I personally enjoyed this novel. The storylines were amusing because Emma was a kind of character you envy and are annoyed by at the same time. She has everything a girl wants like beauty, charm, intelligence, and wealth…but she is irritating because knows she is all of those things, and is conceited. The novel is easy to read, and was especially easy to follow because I have seen the movie version as well as Clueless. It was really lighthearted and funny. I had already known what was going to happen, but it was still fun to read along and watch as Emma made her mistakes and finally ended up with Mr. Knightley. Summary of two Critical Reviews Emma: by Arnold Kettle Arnold Kettle focuses on the topic of marriage in the novel. He says that it begins with marriage and ends with marriage. Kettle believes that the novel can give the reader a new view on marriage because of the way it is dealt with in the story. When someone reads the novel, they experience what is going on as if it were something happening to a friend, which the reader will always remember. The book is so well written that the reader can actually feel and see what is going on in the town. Kettle says, “When Emma is rude to Miss Bates on Box hill, we feel the flush rise to Miss Bates’s cheek”. In the review, Kettle claims that Austen succeeded in combining intensity with precision, emotional involvement, and objective judgment. He also believes that Emma is not a period piece. It appeals to everyone, at any time. Kettle also touches on morals and standards in the novel, such as the social ranking and aristocratic society that is portrayed. He thinks that when someone is finished with the novel, they will look back and see more than the inadequacies of Hartfield, but of how the men and women matured to work out their problems maturely. Reginald Farrer: On Emma Reginald Farrer talks about the way Emma matures throughout the novel. He states that there is only one scene in the story that does not include Emma, personally, and even that one discusses her. This proves that the novel is focused directly on her life and the ways in which it affects others. Farrer discusses how the reader is first introduced to Emma, a conceited 21 year old who can never be taken seriously throughout her humiliating blunders. Only readers who do not take her lightly do not like her character. She is “a figure of fun”. Although Emma continues to make silly mistakes, the reader is constantly made sympathetic because of Austen’s use of charm. Farrer says that a reader is weighing between “alternate rage and delight at Emma”. In the end, Emma recognizes her faults and changes her behavior. This review is more based on the readers view of Emma than Jane Austen’s techniques.
Research paper: Your final paper should be 10-12 pages—2500 to 3000 words—on some aspect of our reading in Romantic literature. This research paper is worth 40% of your grade. You will choose the topic, but I will be making suggestions throughout the semester on researchable projects. Due on or before midnight, Dec. 15.
Guide for the papers.
* The idea development should be clear, well organized, coherent, logical and persuasive. You must work with the topic, refine it, impose your own ideas on it.
* The paper should be rich in content--with ideas, argument, evidence.
* You should have a strong grasp of the details of the text you're discussing. Summarize and refer to details; use some quotations of important words and phrases, perhaps a few sentences if necessary, but avoid lengthy quotations. Make sure that your key terms are clearly explained.
* Your intended audience is someone who has read the text under consideration and who is also interested in understanding its meaning. Accordingly, extensive plot summary is not appropriate.
* How to get content? You have to think hard about the topic, review key passages in the text, anticipate objections, pursue ideas to their logical conclusions, and work through contradictions and difficulties. Make connections between the parts and the whole.
* Content development is by far the most important aspect of the paper, but you cannot present your content effectively unless the form of the paper is adequate. Accordingly, here is a checklist to assist you:
* Paragraphing: does each paragraph have a topic idea? Is each idea developed adequately? Is the sequence of paragraphs logically coherent?
* Phrasing: be concise, direct, and precise; proofread for wordiness, vagueness, and awkwardness.
* Mechanics: proofread for typos, misspellings, incorrect punctuation, and grammatical errors.
*References to the text (or texts): When you use critical commentary for your paper, use MLA Style of documentation. When quoting poetry, be sure to quote exactly, retaining line breaks: “Mary had a little lamb, / Its fleece as white as snow.” Four or more lines of poetry should be block quoted—again, exactly reproduced.
*Proofreading: it is quite apparent whether you have proofread your paper carefully or not. A paper with numerous mechanical errors will not receive a high grade; if the errors are too numerous, the paper will not receive a passing grade.
TOPIC: JANE AUSTEN’S EMMA. THEME OF EMMA JUDGING ON THE BACKGROUND OF JANE AUSTEN’S DAY.