Jane Austen



Jane Austen’s novel Emma is basically a biography. As Jane Austen
matured through her childhood years, she acquired many talents
which are reflected through the character Emma. Jane Austen lived
in the popular image of Victorian society. Many critics agree that
Jane Austen bases her novels on her own life. In the novel Emma
Jane Austen portrays her life in a time of maturing through the
main character Emma.
In the early years of Jane Austen, her accomplishments and
talents are then reflected in the character Emma. Austen as a child
had an excellent talent for drawing, painting, playing the piano,
and dancing. As in her novel Emma, the character Emma is very
talented in these areas. Emma’s expertise was in dancing; she
absolutely loved it and was very good just as Austen (Parrish 340).
Emma being the perfectionist that she was, always wanted
everything ideal, and that goes back to Austen in her talents and
everything she did. In the novel Emma, when Emma is asked to
paint a portrait of her best friend Harriet for Mr. Elton, she wanted
to perfect the artwork all the way down to the finest detail . Even
when she thought she had a long way to go to finish it, Mr. Elton
stopped her and said that it was perfect the way it was (43).
Inevitably, Emma’s life was based on the childhood and early years
of Jane Austen’s adulthood. Although part of the upper class society
at an early age, Austen was not influenced by many of the
contemporary novelists of that time (Parrish 343). As a child Austen
was never around many people. She did not trust herself enough to
speak unkind words to anyone, and she controlled her temper well
(Parrish 340). She was essentially confined to her home and nearby
areas. So everything Austen wrote or any idea she had was
genuinely original and a homemade article (Parrish 343). Austen
always delivered herself in a manner with great fluency and
precision (Parrish 340). Once Jane Austen stated: “My greatest
anxiety at present is that this fourth work should not disgrace what
was good in the others” (Lauber 79). Austen was known for taking
not of the behavior of mankind and a class of society, having a
universality that makes them valid to modern times as well as the
days of George III (Hardwick 11). In studying this behavior, Austen
tries to identify her characters with those in her life, including
herself mainly. Austen’s ability to have consistency with perception
and depiction of the people around her, and her occasional special
touch of irony, makes her novels timelessly successful (Hardwick 11).
Also, by her perceptive powers, as Virginia Woaf said: “Jane Austen
was a mistress of much deeper emotion than appears upon the
surface. She stimulates us to supply what is not there” (Hardwick
11).
The image of the Victorian society in the minds of people is not
the reality. It just happens to be that Jane Austen lives in what
people believe the upper class Victorian society is. The popular image
of this period was elegant, handsome men and women dressed in big
fluffy dresses who went to balls and social events most of the time
(Mitchell 1). Mainly these people inherited their wealth. Their daily
lives consisted of having brunch everyday, long chats, playing
cricket, and in the evenings had social balls. The upper class women
painted, played the piano, had social graces, and most of the time
had general knowledge of political events (Mitchell 7). The middle
class women were usually a governess (Mitchell 7). As in Emma, Miss
Taylor who later becomes Mrs. Weston was a middle class women,
and she was the governess of Emma from the time she was a child till
Miss Taylor was married to Mr. Weston (16). Basically, Jane Austen
lived in this world. She shows this through the novels she writes. In
her novel Emma, Emma meets with her best friend Harriet for brunch
one morning to discuss the matter about Mr. Elton (69). Another
time Emma throws a ball for Mrs. Elton and invites everyone to show
that she does not despise Mrs. Elton (291). The reality of the
Victorian society is that it was hard to make a living. Practically
everyone except for the upper class had it bad (Mitchell 2). Men
struggled to make enough money to support their families and
provide food for their wives and children. They would work nonstop,
and just barely have enough for the day or week or month (Mitchell
2). So the popular image of Victorian society is not entirely a false
impression, but is correct to a