Society and Class Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
If we exert ourselves, I think we shall not be long in want of allies. (32.37)
Mrs. Elton’s "we" is something that Emma wants no part of! The idea of establishing oneself as the patroness of a town is pretty condescending, but it’s also a role that Emma silently assumed was her own!
I am a great advocate for timidity—and I am sure one does not often meet with it.—But in those who are at all inferior, it is extremely prepossessing. (33.7)
Mrs. Elton becomes the mouthpiece for every stereotypical narrow-minded comment that rich people could make about their "inferiors." Of course, as Emma is quick to point out (if only to herself), Mrs. Elton isn’t all that rich herself.
The change on Mrs. Elton's side soon afterwards appeared, and she was left in peace—neither forced to be the very particular friend of Mrs. Elton, nor, under Mrs. Elton's guidance, the very active patroness of Jane Fairfax, and only sharing with others in a general way, in knowing what was felt, what was meditated, what was done. (33.12)
Two things: one, that social friendships are just that – purely social interactions (without much feeling involved); two, that the social world of Highbury seems to have a general knowledge base of its own. You don’t have to be involved in an event to know all about it.