An exploration of motifs, quotations, and characters

Theme: Social Status

During this period, social status was determined by reputation, family background, and wealth. Emma encourages Harriet to utilize the institution of marriage to raise her social status - almost at the expense of them both ending up with their true loves.

"My dear Mrs Weston, do not take to match-making. You do it very ill."

This quotation carries with it great ironry as Emma denies Mr. Knightley's interest in her, as suggested by Mrs. Weston. Moreover, Emma herself is the protagonist who often attempts to facilitate relationships among others, particularly her dear friend Harriet. Once it is admitted that Harriet in fact cares for Mr. Knightley, however...

"It darted through her [Emma] with the speed of an arrow that Knightley must marry no one but herself!"


Due to the conventions of social propriety, there are many misunderstandings throughout the novel. Oftentimes the characters do not express their feelings openly, and therefore miscommunications occur. For illustration, when Emma and Mr. Knightley talk in the garden he fears Emma's odd behavior involves her love for Frank, while she fears Mr. Knightley will confess his love for Harriet, when in reality they both love one another and only through open dialogue is that made clear and they become engaged...
Emma (9/10) Movie CLIP - More than a Friend (1996) HD

Parties: The Social Convention

The theme of parties reoccurs throughout the novel (as a motif), with each occasion providing the opportunity for social intrigue and a better understanding of the characters through both their dialogue and interactions. Through these scenes is the reader best able to glean true intentions.