Emma Essay - Ashlee Sisson English 295/McAllister September...

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Ashlee Sisson English 295/McAllister September 30 th , 2010 Social Class and Marriage- 19 th Century England The novel Emma , written by Jane Austen in 1815, tells a story of a 21 year old girl named Emma and her family. While reading this novel one finds that Emma tends to be a bit snobby and manipulative which is very much due to her social status. Emma is structured around various marriages, and in each one the match sets the person’s social status. Just like in modern day society, there were three distinct classes, the upper class who does not need to do anything for themselves, the middle class working men, and the lower class hard working farmers. In the early 1800’s marriage was often more than the uniting of two people in love and for many women it was an important opportunity in life that opened new doors to them. It was not uncommon for people to merely marry in order to gain status, and for a lower class girl the only opportunity she had for a more comfortable life would be to get married to an upper or middle class gentleman who had either inherited or earned enough wealth to support a family. The Martin family represents the lower class in Emma . Robert Martin is a farmer who wishes to marry Harriet. Although Harriet, the “natural daughter of somebody” or otherwise the illegitimate daughter of someone is not an upper class individual, she is treated like it in result of being friends with Emma. In chapter 4 Harriet tells Emma about the Martin family and the eligible bachelor, Robert Martin. Emma is alarmed and says that a relationship between the two would be unacceptable because the Martins are socially below her. Emma states, “A young farmer, whether on horseback or on foot, is
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the very last sort of person to raise my curiosity. The yeomanry are precisely the order of
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Emma Essay - Ashlee Sisson English 295/McAllister September...

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