| Quote #4
Perhaps it was not fair to expect him to feel how very much he was her inferior in talent, and all the elegancies of mind. The very want of such equality might prevent his perception of it; but he must know that in fortune and consequence she was greatly his superior. He must know that the Woodhouses had been settled for several generations at Hartfield, the younger branch of a very ancient family—and that the Eltons were nobody. (16.9)
There’s a strange elitism in this attempt to empathize with Elton. He can’t understand how unfit he is for Emma – because he’s too unfit to understand.
| Quote #5
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. (25.6)
Emma single-handedly undertakes the task of upholding the social hierarchy of Highbury – but if only Emma recognized the hierarchy, of what value is it?
| Quote #6
I think there are few places with such society as Highbury. I always say, we are quite blessed in our neighbors. (21.38)
Austen’s world centers completely upon a small cross-section of rural England. Even her most worldly characters seem to gravitate to rural areas – as if a small town is the center of the world.