Essay about Emma by Jane Austen

2325 Words Jul 19th, 2011 10 Pages
Societal Affects of Love

Emma, by Jane Austen, is a classic comedy that took place in the nineteenth-century near London, England. Emma tells the tale of a heroine attempting to be the matchmaker for everyone, and ultimately herself. Emma Woodhouse, the main character, loses her dear friend and governess, Miss Taylor, to Miss Taylor’s marriage, in which she becomes Mrs. Weston. Emma, in search of another cherished companion, comes across Harriet Smith. Although Harriet comes from a lower class in society, Emma admires her beauty and takes it upon herself to improve Harriet in order to make her acceptable to the upper class. For instance, Mr. Martin, a local farmer, seems to have fallen in love with Harriet, yet Emma suggests that she
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This act offends the Martins because Harriet had stayed with them for a couple of months and they think the least she can do is stay and chat. I agree with Julia Brown in that, “Her greatest sin in the novel is cutting off Harriet's warm attachment to the Martins; as Lionel Trilling has said, she is a reactionary, out to stop social mobility” (Brown). Emma thinks that if you are high in society then you need to associate with the higher classmen and if you are lower, only associate with lower classmen. Another instance in which class ranking dominates is when Emma wants Harriet to marry Mr. Elton. She thinks he is in love with her because of all the little gestures she notices. Brown writes, “As always in Jane Austen, the smallest detail of behavior can justify the most definitive judgment” (Brown). For example, Emma is painting a portrait of Harriet and Mr. Elton watches her the whole time and offers to go get it framed in London when she is done. Goodheart thinks: Emma ignores both the temperamental disaffinity and the social distance between them—and more grievously she misunderstands the desires of Mr. Elton. He is a vicar from a good family with social ambitions; Harriet… wholly in thrall to Emma's matchmaking machinations. (589-590) Mr. Elton doesn’t want to marry Harriet because she is low in society and he doesn’t want to degrade himself by marrying her. Mr. Elton

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