In this Essay I will explore some of the concepts of this novel from a modern perspective. The novel is nearly two hundred years old and undoubtedly times have changed. Moreover the novel is also part of the institution of the upper classes. It portrait's certain values that may not be shared by modern society and therefore present a different world with equally different rules. I will endeavour to highlight and explore some of these ideas and explore what possibilities are created by Austen of life for her characters and how she presents and forms.
Due to the patriarchal society at the time women were not always able to support themselves economically. Women needed to think carefully about whom they married so as not to loose out financially or marry below them socially and thereby affect their social standing . The security of the society the novel is set in doesn't reflect this. There is no great upheaval except possibly Harriet's rescue from gypsies. None of the characters are ever in danger real or social. The problems of marriage for women at this period in history seem not to apply to the characters in a desperate and life effecting way, where as a poorly matched marriage may destroy a characters life and reputation both financially and socially in other Austen fantasies, notably the eloping of Lydia and Wickam in Pride and Prejudice. It seems of little consequence in Emma as everything works itself out in the end with little disruption to ordinary life. Harriet gets over Mr Elton and has a backup suitor and even the tragic story of Jane Fairfax and the death of her parents is all sorted out by Mr Campbell as if there was no point in creating the problem in the first place. It is here that the possibilities of life created by Austen fall short of any kind of life at all. I appreciate that the novel is not a thriller or a horror and that its setting is not only a very limited one but also... [continues]
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