The overall tone of Emma is ironic, but within that, it is also sympathetic and comic. At the end of the novel, the tone is romantic.
Emma is filled with situational irony (which is when events works out to be the opposite of what we expect), as well as dramatic irony (in which the audience knows what the characters in a story don't), and verbal irony (in which people say things that are the opposite of what they mean).
Emma shows events through the clueless Emma's eyes, so we have a good deal of situational irony. The chief example is Emma entirely missing the secret love between Jane and Frank, despite all the clues Austen sprinkles—and we as an audience are deceived as well. Ironically, Emma thinks Frank looks down on Jane, when the opposite is true.
Dramatic irony occurs when we know that Mr. Elton is after Emma as a bride, while she is convinced he is after Harriet. Verbal irony is sprinkled throughout the novel, but the opening provides a good example: Mr. Woodhouse mourns Miss Taylor,...
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