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'In Emma Jane Austen presents a picture of an inward-looking community, limited in outlook.'

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Introduction

'In Emma Jane Austen presents a picture of an inward-looking community, limited in outlook.' Does this view fit with your reading of the novel? 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. The community in Highbury are very close and everyone knows each other's business. This is represented through the amount of gossiping that occurs throughout Austen's novel. Even small matters, for example the mystery of Perry's carriage is discussed with great enthusiasm, '...and she mentioned it to her in confidence, she had no objection to her telling us, of course...' ...read more.

Middle

In such a small and limited community, Emma's status as a young, eligible woman would have been compromised. The society that Emma is a part of, are most definitely limited in outlook. Emma never leaves the close proximities of Highbury and the only characters that do are those who travel to London to do errands, or make visits, but return shortly. Mrs Elton makes patronising comments about the parties that the society must take part in as they live in the countryside, Emma's reply sums up their calm and satisfied lives, 'No; not immediately here. We are rather out of distance of the very striking beauties which attract the sort of parties you speak of; and we are a very quiet set of people, I believe; more disposed to stay at home than engage in schemes of pleasure.' Although this is not the style of life Mrs Elton enjoys or plans to lead, it is the life that the Emma's society knows. ...read more.

Conclusion

I perceive only the Eltons and Emma at the beginning of the novel to have such views. The other character's do not share the same prudish views and are kind to all, for example everyone is polite to rambling Miss Bates. Mr Knightley regards Robert Martin to be 'a very pretty young man to be sure, and a very good young man...great regard for him'. Here, Austen reflects one of the many good attributes that knightly has; that he can see past status. I think that in Emma Jane Austen does present an inward looking community, limited in outlook to a certain extent. If you look at Emma's society as a microcosm of eighteenth Century society as a whole, which had a strict class etiquette, then this opinion is true. However it also represents hope for the ignorance of this etiquette because the reader sees Emma on her journey of self discovery and realisation of man's worth. Nonetheless, the community are not all inward looking as they regard others of a lower class with respect. With this respect comes a close community, who believes Highbury to be the beginning and end of their lives which makes them limited in outlook. ...read more.

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