| Quote #1
She would notice her; she would improve her; she would detach her from her bad acquaintance, and introduce her into good society; she would form her opinions and her manners. It would be an interesting, and certainly a very kind undertaking; highly becoming her own situation in life, her leisure, and powers. (3.12)
Harriet becomes Emma’s fix-it project out of a strange combination of sympathy and boredom. Emma longs to become an author – of another person’s social reputation.
| Quote #2
Human nature is so well disposed towards those who are in interesting situations, that a young person, who either marries or dies, is sure of being kindly spoken of. (22.1)
With typical irony, Austen’s narrator offers a tongue-in-cheek observation. Most people only stop being critical when you’re officially off the market (the marriage market or the life market). And even then, the goodwill doesn’t last too long.
| Quote #3
Warmth and tenderness of heart, with an affectionate, open manner, will beat all the clearness of head in the world, for attraction. […] I mention no names; but happy the man who changes Emma for Harriet! (31.15)
Despite her ego when it comes to match-making (or social hierarchy), Emma’s valuation of her friend is selfless to the point of being misguided