How far do the attitudes expressed in Emma belong merely to Jane Austin's time, and how far are they important to ours as well?
Jane Austin's novel, Emma was ahead of its time when it was first published in 1816. In this novel we are presented with the headstrong woman Emma, who has an opinionated view on her closed life.
In the novel there are four key subject areas: Class, money, marriage and the position of women. I will be using these and discussing not only how they were relevant in Jane Austin's time but how they have still apply to today's modern world.
As we the readers can see, in Emma, there is a complex class system that is present in this small group, the image and connections that a person had were more important than their personality. In particular this is the case for the lead character, Emma.
Throughout most of the book, Emma snobbishly looks down on all the people below her in the social hierarchy. In Chapter 4, Emma displays one of her worst points, where she is assuming that, because Mr. Martin is of a very low class, he would be illiterate and does not even deserve a glance from Emma. In this situation it also shows that her snobbish nature is even directed towards the people who deserve her help. It is only through her charity work as a patron that she can bring herself to have any contact with the lower classes. Emma's snobbishness is also displayed in later chapters in the novel, for example, where she doesn't like associating with Mrs and Miss Bates, believing this will lower her social standing; "all the horror of being in danger of falling with the second rate and third rate of Highbury",