Position paper on Emma, pp. 508-521
Social status and class is a hot and complicated topic in Emma. Judging from Jane Ausen's background, who lived in the 1800's, there are remarkable social class divides, which is also reflected from her novel Emma. We can see three distinct social class and each of them has representative figures: the upper or elite class, such as Mr. Woodhouse, Emma and Mr. Knightley; the middle or working class, the people of which always engaged in trade, such as Mr. Elton; the lower or poor class, such as Mr. Martin and Mr. Bate. The distinct social status and class have a significant effect on the evolution of the story.
The diverse social status which is natural and ascribed, determined by family background, reputation, fortune and landed wealth, greatly influences the marriage and match in Emma. Mr Weston's first marriage with Miss Churchill is a false match which fails eventually, because their social status is of inequality. Mr. Weston is a trademan who belongs to the middle class, while Miss Churchill comes from a wealthy family with high rank in social class. Although Mr. Weston "having an independent income, he dissociates himself form the trade of his family"(514), but is still not accepted by the landed family because of his "blood." His second marriage with Miss Taylor, the poor but genteel governess is a good match and more acceptable. At last Emma and Mr. Knightley get together not only because they are well matched in character and temper, but also because of the equality of their fortune and social status.
The diverse social status also explain why Mr. Knightly and Emma have different attitudes toward Harriet's match with the two men from different classes. Mr. Elton, engaged in trade, belongs to the commercial middle class. Mr. Martin farms for a living and belongs to lower class. Harriet Smith's illegitimacy results in the different opinions of Mr. Knightley and Emma. Mr....