Massimiliano, Morini. "Who Evaluates Whom And What In Jane Austen's Novels?." Style 41.4 (2007): 409-433. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 14 Nov. 2012.
Massimiliano discusses Austen and how she is interpreted. She specifically mentions that, out of all the novels Austen wrote, Emma and MansfieldPark are two of the most difficult to understand. Massimiliano brings up how Austen gives her writings a sense of indeterminacy by giving narrative authority to characters, then using those authorities against each other, and also against the setting of the work, to create difficulty for the reader to interpret her intention. Essentially, she is doing this intentionally as a literary device. This is interesting to us when looking at the men of Emma because we are seeing them through the intentionally foggy narration of Austen’s ambiguity, but they are still somehow much less ambiguous then Emma herself. It is also interesting how we think we know so much about them, when we actually know very little about Emma; it is even difficult to determine whether she is a heroine or anti-heroine. This raises the question, is Emma a reliable source for information? We can’t be sure, all we really know is what Austen lets us infer. However, the mystery of Emma’s character does not stop us from having a clear understanding of the other characters in the novel.
Minma, Shinobu. "Self-Deception And Superiority Complex: Derangement Of Hierarchy In Jane Austen's Emma." Eighteenth-Century Fiction 14.1 (2001): 49-65. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 14 Nov. 2012.
Minma takes a hard look at the arrangement of hierarchy in Austen’s work. She notes that, particularly in Emma, we can see the significance that society plays in understanding the overall plot. Part of the issue of the novel is how ambiguous everyone is in relation to social structure. This is due in part to the changing times. In the novel’s setting, near the Industrial Revolution, we have a social structure made of titles and pedigree that is meeting a social structure that is made of new money and industry. This makes social hierarchy tricky. Who is more important, the wealthy or the titled? Part of the issue is that we simply don’t know, this information is not communicated to the reader. What is interesting is how the men of Emma all fit some sort of social hierarchy of the time in a different way. For example, Emma is the daughter of a gentleman, (Mr. Woodhouse) but does not come from a titled family. Mr. Knightley, on the other hand, is titled, but works in agriculture. Mr. Elton is clergy, which is certainly respectable but has very little social merit, and Mr. Frank Churchill is an anomaly because of his unique situation as the son of a gentlemen and the ward of a well off family from a major metropolitan area.
Nunokawa, Jeff. "Speechless In Austen." Differences: A Journal Of Feminist Cultural Studies 16.2 (2005): 1-36. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 14 Nov. 2012
This article looks at Austen’s work as timeless and fulfilling fiction. Nunokawa notes Austen’s knack for presenting how society may have been during the time when Austen was writing. He also points out that Austen’s characters are likable because they are relatable and imperfect. Nunokawa mentions Knightley in regards to society and points out that he believes Knightley is trying to “defy the proprieties of self-presentation,” in regards to social structure (Mr. Woodhouse is similar in this regard.) This makes him more consistent if not more accepting than Emma. Emma goes back and forth in her regard toward social class. She disregards it with Harriet, but when invited to the Campbell’s for a party she becomes very conscious that they are beneath her. Emma is not alone in this regard. Both Mr. Elton and Mr. Frank Churchill have an understanding of how things are meant to be, although they do not necessarily fit themselves to the constrains of their social class when being matched romantically. Another important thing that Nunokawa points out is that Austen completely overlooks a large class of society, there are no “servants, peasants, shopkeepers, foreigners, slaves,” in her stories. Could this be because with those types of characters in the story it makes the differences in social structure within the main characters less marginal? It is quite possible.
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