Austen’s Selective Focalization in Emma

It is tempting to approach a novel with a predetermined perspective or goal, to which all passages and plot events can be forced to comply. With this approach, the story theoretically makes more sense; the messages to walk away with are neatly packaged and presented. This approach, however, cheats the reader of an important interactive … Read moreAusten’s Selective Focalization in Emma

A Psychoanalytic Criticism of Emma, Jane Eyre, and Tess of the D’Urbervilles

Although his methods have largely been discredited, Sigmund Freud’s theories about the unconscious, the subconscious, and repression are extremely useful when applied to literary texts. None of the three novels discussed here – Jane Austen’s Emma, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, and Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles – contain overtly psychoanalytic themes such as frequent … Read moreA Psychoanalytic Criticism of Emma, Jane Eyre, and Tess of the D’Urbervilles

Men, Women, and the Willful Misinterpretation of Female Speech

Female speech in Jane Austen’s novels is heavily dictated by the whims of her male characters, and although “[f]emale speech is never entirely repressed in Austen’s fiction, [it] is dictated so as to mirror or otherwise reassure masculine desire” (Johnson 37). However, there are times when women stray from the gendered rules of speech and, … Read moreMen, Women, and the Willful Misinterpretation of Female Speech

The Value of Clueless in Evaluating Emma

Jane Austen’s many novels contain a complexity of thought and a depth of character that distinguish them from other stories; Emma is no exception to this general rule. In fact, Emma’s most winning trait may well be the well roundedness of its characters. Every character displays unique behaviors that reflect the realistic mix of good … Read moreThe Value of Clueless in Evaluating Emma

From all Indifferency: The Bias of Selfishness in Jane Austen’s Emma

“The exploration of different kinds of selfishness gives Emma considerable depth of meaning beneath it’s [sic] comic surface,” and also contributes to that comedy. Jane Austen’s characters inhabit a hyper-polite society, where admirable displays of selflessness and concern for others are often the result of characters’ self-interest, and what is right for them they consider … Read moreFrom all Indifferency: The Bias of Selfishness in Jane Austen’s Emma

The Power of “Ought”: A Close Reading of Perspectives and Obligations in ‘Emma’

Societal expectations motivate the characters of Jane Austen’s Emma. Because societal perception plays such a large role in the lives of these characters, many concern themselves with how they should behave; a fact which Austen underscores by utilizing the word “ought” to subtly express the views of society and propriety. However, “ought” also carries with … Read moreThe Power of “Ought”: A Close Reading of Perspectives and Obligations in ‘Emma’

Character Commodification as a Response to Class Destabilization in Emma

Jane Austen’s classic is not merely a story of Emma Woodhouse’s journey of self discovery, nor is it just a tale of country romance, but rather, Emma chronicles the anxiety of its time: the destabilization of the classes. As the Industrial Revolution allowed for the democratization of money, more and more individuals were able to … Read moreCharacter Commodification as a Response to Class Destabilization in Emma

The Presence of Art through Morality and Social Roles in Emma

Not all art is moral, but all that is moral is art. Especially art which intends to improve life rather than degrade. Set in the early nineteenth century, Emma by Jane Austen traces the social circles of Highbury—particularly the life of Emma Woodhouse, a wealthy daughter of a gentleman who enjoys matchmaking others but participates … Read moreThe Presence of Art through Morality and Social Roles in Emma