How is the theme of 'control' evident in Emma? Please give examples.

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mrsk72 | Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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The theme of control is evident in 'Emma' implicitly and explicitly. Austen's novels take place in a strictly regimented society, where social position impacts on the opportunities and level of freedom faced by the characters.

In 'Emma' we see a variety of examples of control at work. We also see numerous examples of lack of self-control (for example Emma's rudeness to Miss Bates, Frank Churchill's frivolous behaviour).

Emma exerts control over Harriet; under the guise of friendship she persuades Harriet to reject Robert Martin's proposal and set her sights higher.

Harriet's expectations in marriage are controlled by social convention as she is:

"the natural daughter of somebody"

The doubt surrounding her parentage means that Mr Elton is horrified at Emma's suggestion that he should marry her. This also demonstrates Emma's naivety.