Jane Austen's novel Emma has a central character criticized as sheltered and overly concerned with status, place, and marrying well, all the things well off women were supposed to be and do. In her match making, she pushed her friend to not marry a prosperous farmer because he was not what was considered well born, from a high or elite background. By novel's end she is forced to admit she was wrong, and the marriage takes place.
Austen also makes use of gendered space in the novel. Female characters almost always meet indoors while males meet outdoors, suggesting their relative freedoms. The main character cannot walk alone to the post office without attracting gossip while her father can go alone to London without worrying about the same.
Jane Austen’s insightful critique of English rural society has many components that merit its consideration as a feminist novel. Austen places a number of strong female characters in a variety of social situations, each with their own advantages and...
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