• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

There is a strong sense of class consciousness in "Emma". What is Emma's attitude towards social position? How do the Martins and the Cole's reflect changes in the class structure of 19th century England?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

There is a strong sense of class consciousness in "Emma". What is Emma's attitude towards social position? How do the Martins and the Cole's reflect changes in the class structure of 19th century England? How willing is Emma to accept these changes? Compare and contrast Emma and Mr Knightley's attitudes towards Robert Martin. "Emma" was written at the beginning of the Nineteenth century when dramatic change was going on in social structures. Up until then society was governed by a rigid class system and mixing of classes was very rare, however the 'middle class', the land owners and work-force owners were beginning to carve their own place in society. Increases in international trading and the start of the Industrial Revolution were key factors in the rise of the 'middle class'. Emma as the daughter of a substantial landowner and at the top of society resists these changes with immense social snobbery although she is aware the change is imminent. "Emma conceives of her society in terms of rigid inequalities; Miss Woodhouse cannot visit Mrs Martin, the Coles will not presume to invite the Weston's, Mr. ...read more.

Middle

Emma's inherent snobbery is demonstrated when the Coles host a party in Highbury. "The Coles were very respectable in their way, but they ought to be taught that it was not for them to arrange the terms on which the superior families would visit them. This lesson, she very much feared, they would receive only from herself; she had little hope of Mr. Knightley, none of Mr. Weston". Emma feels the Coles are attempting to rise above their station; however she recognizes that neither Mr. Knightley nor Mr. Weston will agree or support her here because as Robert Miles writes, "they have better judgement...Knightley's flexibility absorbs the threat, whereas Emma's stiffness augurs friction" (Jane Austen [Northcote House, 2003], p.105) Emma's dislike of the Coles stems from their recently acquired wealth: "They...by this time were, in fortune and style of living, second only to the family at Hartfield." High rank in society was dictated more by family history than current wealth. Hereditary wealth was perceived as infinitely superior to recently earned 'new money'. However, change was imminent with the increase in trade wealth and the upper class had to accept this, some even embraced it, Emma however refuses to accept these changes and adapt to this new way of thinking. ...read more.

Conclusion

He must have a pretty good opinion of himself." This shows humour and irony because what Emma says is very spiteful and untrue (although she does not mean it to be so), but also hypocritical because she has an extremely high opinion of herself. Mr. Knightley, on the other hand, has a high regard for Mr. Martin and his family; "I never hear better sense from any one than Robert Martin. He is an excellent young man both as son and brother." Mr. Knightley is outraged when he learns of Harriet's refusal. He is a realistic, sensible man and knows Martin is a good, respectable match for Miss Smith. "Robert Martin's manners have sense, sincerity and good-humour to recommend them; and his mind has more true gentility than Harriet Smith could understand." Emma, although aware changes in social position are happening and being accepted, is reluctant to change, and as the first lady of Highbury does not welcome the break-down of the rigid class structure. The Martins and the Coles represent these changes and we see them accepted warmly by nearly everyone except Emma. Characters such as Mr. Knightley and Mr. Weston are much more realistic, with a wider understanding of social issues than Emma, who has never left Highbury. Anna Mackie ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Jane Austen section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Jane Austen essays

  1. Discuss the representations of class within "Emma".

    different demeanours and dialogues than the upper class, as represented by the character of Emma, because of the difference in class. Harriet is of a significantly lower class than the majority of characters within the text, as 'she is the natural daughter of nobody knows whom, with probably no settled provision at all, and certainly no respectable relations.'

  2. Is Northanger Abbey truly a Gothic Romance?

    Stock elements on plot in Gothic Romance include absent mothers, like in The Mysteries of Udolpho and tyrannical fathers - of which Catherine has neither, her father was 'not in the least addicted to locking up his daughters'. Another typical element of plot in the gothic genre is the use

  1. Jane Austen said of Emma 'she is a character who no-one but myself will ...

    their feelings towards their marriages and the gentlemen they married, where as Emma at one point asks herself for a clear answer about what she feels for Mr. Churchill. "I will certainly not persuade myself to feel more then I do...he is undoubtedly very much in love everything denotes it very much in love indeed".

  2. Argue that the theory of common sense structures provides an important and hitherto unappreciated ...

    (K�hler, loc. cit.) K�hler's ideas were worked out in detail in application to the different levels of intelligence manifested by school-children by the Berlin Gestalt psychologists Otto Lipmann and Hellmuth Bogen in a work entitled Naive Physik, published in 1923.

  1. The society of Jane Austen's time and period, being early nineteenth century rural England, ...

    afraid of the inconvenience and disgrace they might be involved in, when the mystery of her parentage came to be revealed." Since Harriet is "illegitimate", Emma still believes that "she is a gentleman's daughter," and encourages Harriet to reject what turns out to be a more appropriate match with Robert Martin.

  2. An exploration of Jane Austen's use of the outdoors in Emma

    be interpreted as an attempt to block a purely emotional response, and perhaps provoke readers into thinking critically about Emma's relationship with Mr Knightley. The novel's secondary love story is much less proper and correct. As Emma puts it, "[Jane Fairfax's] affection must have overpowered her judgement."

  1. The Character of Emma in Jane Austen's Emma: How she has a "mind delighted ...

    help Harriet improve her life by introducing her into society and finding her a partner. Emma is however sometimes misguided. She automatically thinks that the Martins are not good enough for Harriet despite Mr. Knightley's high regard for them. She manipulates Harriet to refuse Mr. Martin's marriage proposal (Shannon Jr.

  2. Jane Austen (1775 -1817) Emma (1816) Jane Austen wrote of 'Emma'; "I am going ...

    That I had been satisfied with persuading her not to accept young Martin. There I was quite right. That was well done of me." Her self-deception is quite amazing. Even after saying to herself that she would match-make never again, she just can't help herself, and decides suddenly that Frank

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work