The setting of Emma is the village of Highbury and its environs, where Emma has lived her entire life. Major settings within or near Highbury include Hartfield, the grand home Emma shares with her invalid father, nearby Randalls, where her former governess lives with her new husband, and the rooms above a shop in downtown Highbury, where Miss and Mrs. Bates live and Jane Fairfax comes to stay. Emma and Harriet walk on Parsonage Lane, which contains the parsonage where Mr. Elton lives, as well as some miserable hovels where they visit the poor. Emma and her friends make up a "party" to go to Box Hill seven miles away, as far as Emma has ever been from home, and they also visit nearby Donwell Abbey. A ball takes place at the Crown Inn, Harriet and Emma's shop, and children look in the window of the bakery.
As the above description indicates, this is Austen's fullest depiction of life in a small country village. The story is told through Emma's point of view, so although the surface may be idyllic, we receive the setting through her snobbish eyes and fraught emotions as she tries to steer Harriet and, later, herself to a suitable husband.