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Austen, Jane. Emma. New York: Bantam Books, 1981.

Emma takes place in Hartfield, which is a part of Highbury, England. Highbury was a large and populous village, but Hartfield was much quieter and secluded. The story is in a time where you only married people of your own social status. Therefore, the story probably takes place in the Eighteenth century but there is no direct reference to the time at which the story takes place. It was a romantic time where women were concerned with marrying their true loves, but only if they were of their same class. The importance of the village in which Emma lives is that to entertain herself she engages herself in matchmaking activities.

The main character of the story is Emma Woodhouse. She is "handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and very little to distress her or vex her." (Austen, 3) Emma was the youngest of two daughters and she was spoiled by her old, affectionate father. Her mother had died when she was only a child and her sister, Isabelle, had married at an early age. This made her mistress of his house from a very early period. Emma’s self image is very strong and she is doubly pleased with her match-making skills, which turn out to be disastrous for her friend Harriet. Harriet Smith is a young girl of an unknown background, but she was a student at Mrs. Goddard’s School. Emma challenges herself to reform and refine Harriet. She becomes to aspire to see Harriet marry a person in a higher social station. Harriet is very pretty. She was "short, plump, and fair, with blue eyes and light hair, and a look of great sweetness." (Austen, 20)

The other main character of the story is Mr. Knightley. He is a sensible man of about thirty-seven. He is the elder brother of Isabelle’s husband and a friend of the Woodhouse family. Mr. Knightley had a very cheerful manner which pleased Emma. He was also one of the few people that could see faults in Emma and he didn’t hesitate on telling her of them. In addition to Mr. Woodhouse, Emma’s father, the other character’s in the story are Isabelle, her husband, Miss Taylor (now Mrs. Weston) and her husband.

From the start of the story, Emma’s willful and determined imagination give way to the plot of the story.

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