Emma

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EXTENDED RESPONSE Emma/ Clueless- Love and Marriage

The novel Emma by Jane Austen is a comedy of manners set in the early nineteenth century. The context of this time placed a particular emphasis on how, who one married. Subsequently the novel Emma which, deals with the everyday lives and concerns of people, reveals many insights into the idea of love and marriage. One particular idea presented is notion that marriage is very much determined by one’s social class and making a match below one’s social class is deemed very inappropriate. The transformation of Emma to the film Clueless, by Amy Heckerling, has meant the transformation of this idea about love marriage to suit the context, audience and purpose of the late 20th century in America.

In Jane Austen’s Emma, the relationship between Harriet and Mr Martin conveys several important ideas about love and marriage. One idea established through their relationship is that social class, standards and marriage were inextricably linked and that it was deplorable for a match to be made below one’s social and economic status. This idea is made evident when Mr Martin writes to Harriet to express his wish to marry her. However Emma Woodhouse, with her complete lack of awareness about the damage she could cause, dissuades Harriet from accepting his proposal for the very reason that (the social standards of the time stipulate) the two should be married. To be more specific, Emma Woodhouse believes that Harriet is now above Mr Martin’s class and therefore she should be marrying in accordance with her ‘new status’. This is exemplified in the section that Emma Woodhouse reads the letter from Mr Martin with Harriet and carefully manipulates her not to accept as she says ‘You banished to Abbey-Mill Farm!- You confined to the society of the illiterate and vulgar all your life!’. The imagery conjured by the use of adjectives such as ‘banished’ and ‘confined’ creates the idea of a jail sentence in a far away and...
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