Essay on Capturing Real Life in Jane Austen's Emma

Essay on Capturing Real Life in Jane Austen's Emma

Length: 2782 words (7.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Capturing Real Life in Emma

 
Jane Austen deliberately confined herself to the realistic portrayal of a segment of contemporary English life-upper middle-class society. The heroine, Emma Woodhouse, lives on her father's estate at Hartfield which is in effect an adjunct of the village of Highbury 'in spite of its separate lawns and shrubberies'. Mr. Weston's estate of Randals is in the parish of Highbury, and Mr. Knightley's Donwell Abbey is situated in the neighbouring parish, within comfortable walking distance. Here life is concentrated within itself and separated from London which although only sixteen miles away was 'much beyond...daily reach'. Significantly, Emma has never visited London, never been to the seaside, never visited Box Hill (all of seven miles away!)

The outside world of early 19th century England does not impinge on this essentially self-sufficient society, of which Emma Woodhouse is the central figure. Here is no mention of contemporary historical events such as the Napoleonic Wars; the war between Britain and America; the assassination of the British Prime Minister, Spencer Perceval, the Industrial Revolution. The only historical allusion is a fleeting reference to the slave trade (centred on Bristol) in an exchange between Jane Fairfax and Mrs. Elton. Otherwise the real world of the early 19th century is totally ignored. Jane Austen deliberately selected and limited herself, even declining the Prince Regent's request to write an historical novel.

The humdrum nature of daily life in the village of Highbury is captured in the scene where Emma stands at the door of Ford's shop, seeking amusement while she waits for the dithering Harriet to make her purchase.

'Much could not be hoped from the t...


... middle of paper ...


...ass-barriers of society and experiencing upward social mobility. Mr Elton is determined to improve himself by marrying Emma Woodhouse, his social (and financial) superior. However, he fails and settles instead for Miss Augusta Hawkins, the daughter of a Bristol merchant, with a fortune of £10,000 and a useful social connection. For her the marriage represents a significant step up the social ladder. Through marriage to Robert Martin, a respectable yeoman farmer, Harriet Smith rises from relative poverty and illegitimacy to find a comfortable niche in society. Miss Taylor and Jane Fairfax are elevated through marriage from being governesses (actual and intended) to becoming wives of prosperous, propertied gentlemen.

Works Cited

Austen, Jane. Emma. Ed. R.W Chapman. Rev. Mary Lascelles. 3d ed. Vol. 4 of The Novels of Jane Austen. 6 vols. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1966.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Feminism and Jane Austen's Emma Essay

- In eighteenth century which feminist in social status was not popular by that time, author can only through literature to express her thought and discontented about society. Jane Austen’s Emma advocates a concept about the equality of men and women. Also satirizes women would depend on marriage in exchange to make a living or money in that era. By the effect of society bourgeois, Emma has little self-arrogant. She is a middle class that everyone could admire, “Young, pretty, rich and clever”, she has whatever she needs....   [tags: Jane Austen, Emma Essays]

Powerful Essays
1140 words (3.3 pages)

Genteel People and Honest Hearts in Jane Austen's Emma Essay

- Emma:  Genteel People and Honest Hearts             In Emma, Jane Austen gives us ‘only the surface of the lives of genteel people’?  Though not necessarily a commonly used term today, the meaning of ‘genteel people’ is easily assumed. Good birth and breeding are not necessarily the only ‘qualities’ of genteel people: simple generosity, courtesy and elegance can also apply, as well as marriage into the class. The majority of the characters in Emma to some extent expand this definition to provide exceptions to the rule or abuses of the title....   [tags: Austen Emma Essays]

Powerful Essays
1571 words (4.5 pages)

Essay on Mr.Woodhouse and Miss Bates in Jane Austen's Emma

- The Characters of Mr.Woodhouse and Miss Bates in Emma    The immediate impression one gets of Miss Bates is that of a loquacious old biddy, one of Emma's more annoying personalities. But Miss Bates offers a refreshing contrast to the other characters in the novel, many of whom harbor hidden agendas and thinly veiled animosities toward perceived rivals. If "every major character in Emma [is] a snob", we might consider Miss Bates the anti-snob. Her very artlessness serves as a foil for those in the novel whom present contrived images of themselves or whom look down their noses at others....   [tags: Austen Emma Essays]

Powerful Essays
1649 words (4.7 pages)

Emma by Jane Austen Essay

- 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....   [tags: Emma Jane Austen]

Powerful Essays
2882 words (8.2 pages)

The Flawed Character of Emma Woodhouse in Jane Austen's Emma Essay

- The Flawed Character of Emma Woodhouse      In Emma Woodhouse, Jane Austen has created a wonderfully flawed heroine. Had Emma been perfect, her situation would have been of no interest to anyone; her flaws are what interest both reader and critic. Peter W. Graham is interested particularly with the first page of the novel where Emma is first introduced to the reader. He discusses how significant the beginning of the novel is to mapping out "Emma's personal development"(42). Walton A. Litz and Patricia Meyer Spacks are much more interested in what Emma's imagination shows about her development....   [tags: Austen Emma Essays]

Powerful Essays
2161 words (6.2 pages)

Essay on Views of Marriage in Jane Austen's Emma

- 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....   [tags: Jane Austen Emma Essays]

Powerful Essays
941 words (2.7 pages)

Jane Austen's Emma - Rebel or Conformist? Essay

- Emma - Rebel or Conformist.   Near the town of Highbury, a village located in the eighteenth century English countryside, sits the estate of Hartfield where Emma Woodhouse resides with her health conscious father who finds fault with all of life's necessities. When Emma's governess and close comrade, Miss Taylor, marries Mr. Weston, an affluent neighbor, and moves to his nearby estate, sociable Emma is forced to find herself a new companion. Harriet Smith, a naive teen who lives at Mrs. Goddard's boarding school, though of a lower class due to her illegitimacy, seems desperately in need of Emma's management and counsel....   [tags: Austen Emma Essays]

Powerful Essays
1718 words (4.9 pages)

Jane Austen's Emma Essay

- Jane Austen's Emma Jane Austen does indeed present a picture of a community who look to each other for entertainment as well as support, and are content with their limited outlook. The story never leaves the close surroundings of Highbury and there is no desire to do so. When the party goes to Box Hill, away from Highbury, there is tension and the trip is not enjoyed. It is interesting to note that the three characters that come into Highbury, are those which have the potential to ruin the tight community; Mrs Elton and her ‘vulgar…self-important, presuming, familiar… manner’, and the deception of Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill’s secret engagement....   [tags: Jane Austen Emma Essays]

Powerful Essays
882 words (2.5 pages)

Jane Austen's Emma Essay

- 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...   [tags: Jane Austen Emma Essays Society]

Powerful Essays
1805 words (5.2 pages)

Essay on Jane Austen's Emma

- 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....   [tags: Jane Austen Emma Novel Analysis ]

Free Essays
1045 words (3 pages)