How does the setting of Emma impact the characters' actions and the plot?

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The novel's setting has the biggest impact on Emma , through whose eyes we see the story. The novel is placed entirely in Highbury and the adjoining Hartfield, where Emma and her father live, as well as Donwell Abbey, home of Mr. Knightley. The farthest the action of the novel...

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The novel's setting has the biggest impact on Emma, through whose eyes we see the story. The novel is placed entirely in Highbury and the adjoining Hartfield, where Emma and her father live, as well as Donwell Abbey, home of Mr. Knightley. The farthest the action of the novel spreads is a few miles away, to Box Hill. Significantly, Emma herself has never been farther from home than Box Hill, which she visits for the first time during the course of the novel.

Because Emma's entire life has been set in a quiet provincial village, this influences how she sees the world and her own place in it. She has never been anywhere else, so she has an outsized sense of her own importance. She also places too much confidence in her own judgments, with comic—and potentially not-so-comic—results. She is clueless, to a large extent, because she has seen so little of the wider world.

Highbury is well delineated as a social world in the novel. We follow Emma and Harriet as they visit the poor in the hovels on Parsonage Lane, stop in at the genteel but poor Bates's in their flat above a shop, experience a ball at the Crown Inn, and go with the upper-class set to strawberry picking at Donwell Abbey. What Emma must learn is that while she is considered more or less a queen bee in this setting, she doesn't know everything that is going on and is not the center of the universe. The moral progress of the novel is Emma's education in reality.

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The setting of Jane Austen's Emma impacts the reader's understanding of the characters' actions and the plot in significant ways.

The small town setting of Highbury, England is important because the citizens of Highbury are all at least somewhat familiar with each other thanks to the small size of the community. Because Austen's plot is not driven by dramatic action, but by the intimate relationships and connections between these characters, the smallness of Highbury matters a great deal. In a larger city, characters could have a more anonymous existence, but life in Highbury means that the gossip has more relevance and more impact on the development of each character and the plot line of the novel.

The chronological setting of Emma is the early part of the nineteeth century, during which cultural norms and gender roles in England were very different than they are now. In the novel, marriage is a focus for many of the characters, especially the female charaters; the women during this time period were expected live very conservatively, compared to today's standards, and marriage was an important step for women who wanted to avoid old-maid status in their communities.

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The setting of the Jane Austen novel Emma is the village of Highbury in the countryside of England. Austen chose English villages because her life was lived in such villages and she viewed it as the most authentic choice she could make. The houses of importance in Emma are Hartfield, Emma's home that she shares with her father; Donwell Abbey, the abode of the local Squire Mr. Knightly; Mr, and Mrs. Weston's home; Mr. Elton's and later Mrs. Elton's vicarage; the apartment of Miss and Mrs. Bates. The surrounding countryside housed Robert Martin's home and farm and the occasional wandering band of gypsies.

The proximity of the action being mainly focused in Highbury means that the characters actions were influenced by daily life and social activities. For instance, social visits, dinners and evenings playing cards; trips to the local shops; calling on good friends and annoying neighbors. There were the occasional special influences on actions, such as a ball planned at the local hall that needed the loving care of a few scrubbing ladies to make it presentable; an encounter with gypsies; chance meetings with the object of one's affection; strawberry picking parties; sudden jaunts to London under the pretext of haircuts; and exploring tours to nearby scenic spots. At each juncture of place and character, Austen moved the plot further through character development (Emma at the Bates's), conflict (turmoil at the strawberry party); or mysteries (Jane and Frank singing so well together).

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