“Discuss Austen’s Purpose in Emma. How Does She Achieve This Purpose?”

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“Emma” written by Jane Austen is a novel set in the small town of Highbury set in the 19th century. The novel is structured around various courtships and romantic connections some of which Emma attempts to create for the people around her. Emma possesses beauty, wealth, intelligence, high social standing, and financial independence. There are many major roles throughout Emma that help Austen achieve her purpose of showing the importance of social class in that era and also the importance of “minding your own business” and not getting involved in others affairs. Austen achieves this purpose through the themes she portrays throughout the novel. Courtship and marriage play major roles in “Emma.” All of the conflicts throughout the novel also revolve around these topics, particularly finding appropriate matches. In this way, Austen presents marriage as a fundamental aspect of society during the time period the novel was written. While marriage does provide romantic purposes, it also upholds the class structure of the community by ensuring that individuals marry appropriately and into the correct social class. In the novel we see that Harriet and Mr Martin would be a suitable match, however Emma guides Harriet against marrying Mr Martin, as she believes that Mr Elton would be better suited. Us as the viewer though can see that Mr Elton and Harriet would be unsuitable because of their different social classes. Emma misjudges the feelings Mr Elton has for Emma, and believes that Mr Elton is referring to Harriet. Emma does not see the error of this match until Mr Elton confesses his love for Emma, and She then realizes how mistaken she was and this does unsettle her. Austen highlights the theme of social class throughout the novel, particularly in terms of Emma’s friendship with Harriet Smith. As a member of the wealthiest family in Highbury, Emma holds the highest social
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