Jane Austen’s Emma is a novel that is full of contradictions. The book talks about relationships. The protagonist appears be the most eligible woman for marriage (Austen 6). However, Emma Woodhouse is never interested in getting married. She is concerned with match making. Therefore, her fantasies and romance is the centre of contradiction in the entire story. It is expected that such a wealthy, beautiful and outgoing woman would be the envy of every man. Although that may be the case, the woman in question is not committal. The novel is centered on irony. It seems that Austen would not have delivered a better piece devoid of these contradictions.
Emma presents a clear distinction between people of different social classes (Austen 7). For instance, in the novel we see that Jane Fairfax was a poor orphaned lady in the neighborhood. However, economic disparities are not what define abundance of life. It seems that there is more to life than economic progression or social class. In this view, Fairfax is perhaps more endowed with interior life than Emma. To demonstrate this point, one should take a closer look at a young man by the name Frank Churchill. Although he is charming and liked by must people, he is somewhat immature. Therefore, in this view, belonging to a high social class is not the evidence of social prosperity and communion with others. Further, the issues of classism are evident in the lives of Emma and Knightly. These two are rich but could not simply get along for quite a long time. This appears to be one of the ways in which the author tries to convince the reader that viewing people in terms of their class is a retrogressive approach that finds no place in society.
Although there are many women in the novel, issues of gender do not appear to come out very clearly. This statement is based on the fact that in most cases gender issues are set around women rather than men. In most societies, women are looked down upon. However, in this novel, there are many powerful women. Power, in this case, is defined in terms of influence, possessing information and the ability to interact with others. The explanation I offer is that the place where the novel was set was already an advanced society. Therefore, issues of gender discrimination did not arise in any case. Since the book is entirely contradictory, the protagonist is actually female, very powerful and influential. In this view, this sets out ground for arguments that there is no gender discrimination. Moreover, it was highlighted that there were significant ma-woman ideals that affected they way they interacted with each other.
Having observed that the book is full of irony as a style, it is important to establish what topic these ironies belong to. The theme of love is quite explicit in the entire story. However, the term ‘love’ is used for convenience. The best term to use, perhaps, is relationships. There are many relationships in the novel, but not all turn out to be fruitful. At the end, we see three marriages. These are marriage between Frank and Jane, Robert Mart and Harriet, and Knightly and Emma. The use of the term ‘relationships’ is perfect because the latter pair appears to have married out of convenience but not real love. There is much evidence to show otherwise. For instance, Emma was attracted to Frank at some point more than to who later became her husband. The other act that points out towards the theme of love is match-making. This was Emma’s hobby. She was not expressly interested in loving but establishing what people could make couples or partners. However, love is portrayed as something that cannot be forced. Emma could not get to Frank.
Austen presents several epistemological concerns. This is based on Emma’s approach to relationships. The protagonist is seen to busy herself with match-making yet she is not committed to a stable relationship (Austen 89). However, in order to understand what reality is, there is a need to explore the relationship between Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill. The fact is that the two got secretly engaged. However, since they feared that their engagement would not be approved, they kept it secret. On the contrary, Frank flirted with Emma. This made it look as if they were dating. But the fact was that they were not. In other words, the reader already knows, by observation or reading, what other characters do not. There is no doubt that knowing or ‘reading’ a person’s true character is only possible after investigating their private lives but not on the basis of how they present themselves in public.
This analysis cannot be complete unless it touches the genre of novel. Austen’s novel could be classified into several genres or subgenres. Moreover, there appears to be a mix of reality and fiction. There are meta-fictional properties in the novel as seen in the intentions of characters as well as the presentation of the author. First, the author sets the story in a fictional niche. This leads to an immediate thought that perhaps whatever is narrated is not true, never happened or can never happen in reality. Secondly, Emma is filled with many distorted images of her ideal man. The subject of fiction is enhanced in at least two approaches. First, romance is in itself something that makes people transcend themselves and enter into realms of unreal world. This was at the core of the protagonist’s project. Secondly, the use of allegories takes the reader into another world in which he or she contemplates of other things other than surrounding realities.
It is also crucial to analyze the use of style. The novel is presented in two ways. There is narration and direct quotations. Through narration, the author made it possible for the reader to know what was never said by characters. This indirect way of presenting speech also summarizes what would have been otherwise long and clumsy pairs of dialogue. The use of narration creates balance and variety. It makes the reader move on and on. It creates some sense of aesthetics.
In conclusion, Emma is a novel that uses irony to present relationships and people. The author uses fictional narrative as a way of journeying with the readers from start to end. This analysis was based on themes, style and genre; some of the themes were relationships, gender disparities and classism. In addition, there were styles like irony and the use of allegories. Further, the analysis of genre revealed the unique role of fiction in the novel. In analyzing the genre, there were also important epistemological issues to address. There was no doubt that the novel was a great piece that sought to present how people’s wishes are not always granted. It mostly dwells on relationships.