Emma by Jane Austen Essay example

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About the Author

Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775 at Steventon, England. She was the seventh child of the rector of the parish at Steventon, and lived with her family until they moved to Bath when her father retired in 1801.

Her father, Reverend George Austen, was from Kent and attended the Tunbridge School before studying at Oxford and receiving a living as a rector at Steventon. Her mother, Cassandra Leigh Austen, was the daughter of a patrician family. Among her siblings she had but one sister, Cassandra, with whom she kept in close contact her entire life. Her brothers entered a variety of professions: several joined the clergy, one was a banker, while several more spent time in the military. Although her family was
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Emma advises the innocent Harriet in virtually all things, including the people with whom she should interact. She suggests that Harriet not spend time with the Martins, a local family of farmers whose son, Robert, is interested in Harriet. Instead, Emma plans to play matchmaker for Harriet and Mr. Elton, the vicar of the church in Highbury. Emma seems to have some success in her attempts to bring together Harriet Smith and Mr. Elton. The three spend a good deal of leisure time together and he seems receptive to all of Emma's suggestions.

The friendship between Emma and Harriet does little good for either of them, however. Harriet indulges Emma's worst qualities, giving her opportunity to meddle and serving only to flatter her. Emma in turn fills Harriet Smith with grand pretensions that do not suit her low situation in society. When Robert Martin proposes to Harriet, she rejects him based on Emma's advice, thinking that he is too common. Mr. Knightley criticizes Emma's matchmaking, since he thinks that the dependable Robert Martin is Harriet's superior, for while he is respectable, she is from uncertain origins.
Emma's sister, Isabella, and her husband, Mr. John Knightley, visit Highbury, and Emma uses their visit as an opportunity to reconcile with Mr. Knightley after their argument over Harriet.

The Westons hold a party on Christmas Eve for the members of Highbury society. Harriet Smith, however, becomes ill and
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