Emma Suggested Essay Topics
by Jane Austen

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Suggested Essay Topics

Chapter 1
1. Contrast Emma’s character with that of her father, Mr. Woodhouse, as they are portrayed so far. How does Mr. Woodhouse serve as a foil for Emma?

2. Why does Emma enjoy matchmaking? What might her life be like without this activity?

Chapter 2
1. What seems to be Mr. Woodhouse’s prime motivation or concern? How does it manifest itself?

2. What does Jane Austen introduce in these chapters to delineate class distinctions? Cite specific examples from the text.

Chapters 3-5
1. What is the significance of Emma “befriending” Harriet, as opposed to Emma becoming her friend? How is this indicative of class distinctions, and to what extent does it further delineate Emma’s character?

2. Despite some inherent danger, at least according to Mr. Knightley, Emma has much to offer Harriet. What does Emma get out of helping Harriet?

Chapters 6-8
1. What does it say about Emma’s influence, and of Harriet’s character and circumstances, that Emma’s approval is apparently more important to Harriet than Mr. Martin’s love, and Harriet’s possible wedded happiness and status? (Keep in mind this is in the context of early 19th Century England, and not late Twentieth Century America).

2. Emma’s cleverness is obvious, but she shows little, if any, capacity for self-awareness or introspection. How is this shown in these chapters?

Chapters 9-11
1. What are some of the specific aspects of socializing in the time, place and class that Jane Austen writes of? How are they brought out in these chapters?

2. How does Austen use socializing to move the story along? Is this convincing?

Chapters 12-15
1. How does the initial argument that Emma has with Mr. Knightley show they are well-matched?

2. Characterize the friendship of Emma and Harriet. Why is their relationship a prescription for disaster?

3. While Emma connives to match Mr. Elton with Harriet, Mr. Elton thinks he is courting Emma. Give examples of events that illustrate Emma’s blindness to his affections.

Chapters 16-18
1. Emma is shown to be more introspective now, but is she seeing matters more clearly? Cite specific references from the text to support your view.

2. What seems to be underlying the dispute between Emma and Mr. Knightley over Frank Churchill?

Chapters 19-21
1. Characterize Jane Fairfax. What can you conclude about Emma from the fact that she doesn’t like Jane?

2. Give Mr. Woodhouse’s opinions on three subjects, and tell how he injects comedy into the action of the novel.

Chapters 22-24
1. Characterize Augusta Hawkins. What hints at a possible collision with Emma?

2. Characterize Frank Churchill as he is portrayed thus far. Is his character obvious or at all ambiguous?

Chapters 25-26
1. How are class distinctions in early Nineteenth Century England brought out in these chapters? To what extent are they relevant to the modern reader?

2. In this time and place and station in society, a piano in the home was a status symbol, and a moderate degree of singing and playing the piano were considered necessary in a young woman. How is this brought out in these chapters and how is it made central to the development of the storyline?

Chapters 27-29
1. What is the significance of the following sentence beyond its immediate content? (Chapter 27). “A mind lively and at ease, can do with seeing nothing, and can see nothing that does not answer.”

2. How do the details of the ball being planned further delineate the characters involved in the planning? How is the project as a whole balanced or punctuated by personal motives?

Chapters 30-31
1. Give specific examples of how Emma taunts Jane Fairfax and how she enrolls Frank to join her.

2. What makes Emma think she fancies Frank, and what dissuades her from becoming romantically involved with him?

3. Mrs. Elton arrives in Highbury flaunting her claims to society in her hometown of Maple Grove. How does she satirize high society in general?

Chapters 32-33
1. To what extent might Emma’s criticisms of Mrs. Elton been seen as a projection of some of Emma’s...

(The entire section is 1,168 words.)