Study Guide

Emma Social Concerns

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The dominant social danger explored in Emma is the propensity exhibited by the heroine to control others by manipulating their social lives. While we have seen the same tendency in some of Jane Austen's calculating villains, Emma's manipulations are naive, although sometimes just as hurtful. For example, she influences the illegitimate daughter of a man whom we find out to be a tradesman at the novel's end, Harriet Smith, to reject an earnest and appropriate suitor, Robert Martin, for the socially unattainable and inappropriate Mr. Elton, risking the destruction of two and possibly three characters' chances for happiness. In addition to this incident Emma also manipulates the naive and gullible Harriet in other ways. Harriet is only seventeen and looks up to Emma for guidance and lessons in manners. As the single, attractive unmarried daughter of a well-to-do hypochondriac widower who has just lost his daughter's caregiver and...

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This section contains 440 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Emma Study Guide
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Novels for Students
Emma from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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