Emma's Management of Harriet's Affairs in Jane Austen's Emma Essay

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Emma's Management of Harriet's Affairs in Jane Austen's Emma In this novel, Jane Austen uses the relationship between Emma and Harriet to highlight the important issues. She uses Emma's management of Harriet to do this. She creates contrast between Emma and Harriet, she portrays Emma as beautiful and intelligent though we can still see faults in her personality. The main fault is her desire to control people and matchmake them. This also raises issues, including the position of women and Emma's social status, marriage and comedy which is shown through irony, especially in the relationship between Emma and Harriet. The first thing we read is 'Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever and rich'. By…show more content…
This shows that Austen had views ahead of her time. When Emma hears of Mr Martin's proposal, she believes that Harriet's status is higher than his, and should refuse the offer when, in fact, this is not true at all. In this sense, Emma is very naïve and shows how she misjudges situations. Mr Martin is of a higher social class than Harriet and also has more money. Here Emma is misusing her patronage. A further theme of the novel is patronage and how Emma abuses it. When Harriet refuses Mr Martin's proposal, we can see that Harriet realises that she is in no position to do so, but Emma does not realise this, portraying Emma as being quite ignorant of this issue. Mr Woodhouse - Emma's father - is satirised by Austen to be a worrier, and is oblivious to what goes on around him. He, therefore, does not see Emma's matchmaking and management of people. He is one of the main people of whom Emma manages. Through this we see that Austen characterises Emma to abuse her own patronage. The position of women was an issue in Austen's time and is highlighted in this novel. At this time, women had very much a lower position in society than men but, because of Emma's inheritance and family history, she is an exception to the rule. With the power this gives her, we see yet another contrast between Harriet and Emma. Emma's intelligence and Harriet's lack of it is another contrast. Emma has this
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