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Jane Austen

 Table of Contents

Emma Themes

Emma Themes

Foolishness and Folly

Characters who make mistakes and learn from them are almost as much fun to read about as characters who say and do foolish things all the time –and never learn anything. Emma contains a good...


As one of the characters says early on, marriage is an agent of change. For women in Austen’s time, marriage was one of the only ways of changing your lifestyle. It’s no wonder that so...


Owning a home (or better yet, an estate) isn’t just about having a place to sleep at night. Owning land separates the gentlemen (or upper classes) from common folk (or the lower classes). Aus...

Society and Class

Class structures are the most obvious –and most important – differences between characters in Emma. The rich control social situations, the social climbers attempt to seem rich and impo...


Changing her friends, changing her loves, and changing her boring life, Emma seems to be committed to transformation. Self-transformation, however, is harder to come by. Learning how to move from i...

Respect and Reputation

What do the neighbors think? What do we think of the neighbors? What does it mean to be properly English? What will we do in the name of good manners? Circling around all of these questions, Emma b...


Love is, well, complicated. You can’t marry for love unless you have money. And if you have money, then why worry about getting married? But dating is out of the question – so how do yo...


For women, wealth equals independence from men and demeaning jobs. For men, wealth means a life of leisure. The allure of money leads men to marry irritating and socially insignificant women or to...

Morality and Ethics

Morals and manners might seem to be contradictory concepts, but in Emma they are one and the same. Describing someone who acts like a gentleman (or gentlewoman) is another way of describing someone...


Gender roles seem to blur in everyday life: men gossip as much – if not more – than women, women run the social and political networks of the community as much as their male counterpart...

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