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Emma both questions and upholds traditional roles of women held society in in the early 19th century. What message does the novel convey about the role of women in society during Jane Austen’s time?

Jane Austen’s novel Emma follows the lives of the upper class and middle class of Surrey during the early 19th Century. The novel’s main character, Emma Woodhouse, is a clever, quick-witted young woman who passes her time by matchmaking her friends, and compulsively meddling in other people’s lives. There are a number of themes portrayed throughout the novel, such as marriage and social status, with one of the most prominent examples being the confined nature of women in society. Emma shows how upper class women, such as Emma Woodhouse, are exceptionally intelligent, but did not have the authority in society to take part in the business deals as men were expected to. Women were also not trusted in their own marriage affairs, let alone others, and were often not allowed an independent existence, and were often dependent upon adult males, either their fathers or husbands.
The confined nature of women of women in rural England during the early 19th Century is a major theme conveyed throughout Jane Austen’s Emma, and was a common theme depicted in the majority of Jane Austen’s novels, often through strong and intelligent heroines, such as Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice and Emma Woodhouse in Emma. During Emma, pastimes that women took part in appeared to be trivial, as compared to modern pastimes and did not fully make use of the intelligence and strength of character of a young woman in society. In 19th Century England, the ‘perfect woman’ was seen as being a doting mother, devoted wife, loving daughter, a...

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..., she still upholds the trivial pastimes that were common during such times, as social visits and artistic endeavors, as such endeavors were seen to define the moral worth of women during the early 19th century

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