Woman's Life In Jane Austen’s Novel Emma

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Table of contents

  1. Abstract
  2. Introduction
  3. Biography of Jane Austen
  4. Women in the 1800s
  5. Discussion
  6. Conclusion
  7. References


This is the author's perspective and mind about how women feel why they should approve a marriage just because of social or economic class problems, and about how women's rights are not free. The novel by Jane Austeen to be analyzed is titled 'EMMA'. The study was conducted by using theories and also historical and biographical approaches. Which will later focus on words, lines, and stanzas of the poem. The research was conducted with the following statement of problems: (1) How is the image of a woman's life described in Jane Austen’s novel with the title EMMA? (2) What are the reasons for using feminism perspective in Jane Austen’s novel with the title EMMA? The research is conducted by descriptive qualitative because the result of the data is word, sentence, and language. After collecting data from some part of the novel, the recipient puts them into some groups which relate to the problem focuses. The researcher Spice every datum by using content analysis. Based on the research questions mentioned above, the results of the study are as follows. First, the researcher concludes that the images of woman's life are described in Jane Austen’s novel with the title EMMA is Feminism because discriminateion toward women and men are related to the bad history of the era. Second, the reasons for using feminism are the image of her bad life experiences. Researchers who conduct studies about literature focus on feminism or methods in using biographical and historical approaches.


Literature is a work of art consisting of words. mostly written, there are also several passed on from generation to generation. Literature usually means poetry and a very well written process. There are many types of literature, such as poetry, drama, novels, etc. Apparently, 'literature does not only mean what is voiced, what is expressed, what is created, in any form' - in this case, maps, sermons, comics, cartoons, speeches, photographs, films, war memorials, and music all gather in under the umbrella of literature. So, the following statement makes it clear that in literary works there is a deep meaning intended to be conveyed and expressed by the writer/creator to the general public. This is consistent with what is called Poetry.

The novel is a work of narrative fiction with a large number of pages. Over time, there are many types of novels. Novels that voice women's voices for example. This novel uses the theory of feminism which, the author wants to show the strength of women equal to men. There is no 'lean' in this case, all the same, and all have the same rights. Feminism means believing that men and women are the same, simple as that.

Jane Austen is one of the novel writers with the theme of feminism, she wrote many stories that made women the main actors with high courage and opposed the behavior towards women at that time. One of them is a novel called EMMA, she wrote novels during the period covering January 21, 1814- March 29, 1815. Emma can be considered a feminist novel because it highlights the injustices faced by women in small villages in the early 1800s.

Feminist terms begin to emerge when women realize there is a clear gap between men and women, rights are also distinguished by the limited activities that can be carried out and also the rules without any clear origin. According to Maggie Humm and Rebecca Walker, the history of feminism can be divided into three waves. The first feminist wave in the 19th century and early 20th century, the second was in the 1960s and 1970s, and the third developed from the 1990s to the present. Feminist theory emerged from this feminist movement. That makes feminist literary criticism increasingly widespread in various fields. The existence of these three waves shows that women change their mindset from time to time and also want the same rights as men.

Biography of Jane Austen

Jane Austen was a great woman novelist of the early 19th century. Jane was born on 16 December 1775 in Steventon Rectory. She was the second daughter of The Reverend George Austen and his wife Cassandra. She also had 1 sister and 6 brothers. Jane Austen died on 18 July 1817. Jane was only 41 years old. She was buried in Winchester Cathedral. Jane Austen never married. She got married proposal from a man named Harris Bigg-Wither and she accepted it but then reject it quickly.

Jane Austen loved writing and she wrote a lot of short stories called the Juvenilia. In 1795 she wrote a novel she called Elinor and Marianne. And then her writing skill are seen from the other great novels like Pride and Prejudice, Emma, First Impression, Sense and Sensibility, etc.

EMMA is one of Austen’s novels about a girl named Emma Woodhouse, who is described as a person who is lucky with facial beauty, wealth, and good education. He has a jovial nature but sometimes he feels that something is wrong with his family. He is the youngest of three children, he has 2 female kaka whose name is Isabelle. Her female Kaka was married, so she lived in a luxurious wooden house with her father, namely Mr. Woodhouse. His birth mother has died since he was a child.

Emma has a hobby that is matchmaking people, she got this new hobby after she managed to make one of the couples successfully advance to marriage. Emma felt that she was an expert in this field, so she would be very excited and confident when she began pairing lovers. Mr. Woodhouse did not like and oppose Emma's hobby, but he continued. Everything went as usual before a misunderstanding took place. His best friend Harriet was paired with a man who he said was good and right for Harriet but it turned out that this man was the one who made a difference in social status. He is named Mr. Elton, he thought that Emma liked him and he spared Emma. Emma was very surprised and Harriet was surprised. Mr. Elton refused Harriet because he was not from the top like Emma. Soon he married a rich and arrogant woman. Because of this Emma chose to go to a village called Highbury, she chose not to take care of other people's lives for a while. Emma's departure was considered a form of heartache because of Mr. Elton by Harriet.

In Highbury, Emma was surrounded by many good people who were like their own family. Soon, there was a character named Frank who was a dream in the village. Emma also tried to like it too and they wanted. But it turns out Frank has been engaged since a year ago with a girl named Jane. Suddenly this again shocked Emma.

In the end, he found true love for Mr. Knightley, at first they often debated long about their thoughts and comments on Churchill, who was always different. Lots of humor but also epic when this plot happens. After married Emma and Mr.Knightley, they decided to stay together while accompanying Emma's father at Hartfield.

However, from the exciting journey of Emma's love story and also her charismatic character Emma described the researchers found that in this novel there is a clear picture of how women lived at that time, and this will be examined in the discussion section of this paper.

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Women in the 1800s

During the early 1800s, women were generally trapped and had to stay at home and do household chores. They are asked to get married and not a few who accept it because they have to. Getting married for love was taboo at the time, but because of the economy and because they were women so they had to accept proposals from men who were considered 'more'. A limited right to do something is one of the things that made women at that time not free and imprisoned by ancient rules.


The first problem statement already answer based on her biography and also in the Women in the 1800s part. It explained how the life of a woman living in that era. They can only be at home, waiting somebody ask her to get married.

In this part we will discuss how Austen uses a feminist perspective and how the novel entitled 'EMMA' is themed feminism.

In some part mr Harriet said it to Emma when they are together in a small village,

'It is so odd to hear a woman talk so!'

This proves at that time women were limited even in terms of speaking. And Emma's response that did not approve it illustrates her nature that does not accept if a woman is always prohibited from doing something she likes. Emma is indeed portrayed as an independent, brave person. With his attitude like this, Austen shows Emma as role of a feminist who puts equality between genders. Perspectives of people in that era to women who dared to express what was felt to be very bad, women like that are considered impolite and disrespectful to men who incidentally are considered more.Another thing that proves how Emma has different thoughts about how women should get married is in the section:

'I have none of the usual inducements of women to marry. Were I to fall in love, indeed, it would be a different thing!'

The dialogue shows how Emma refused marriage if it was not for love, she did not agree if women must always accept what was offered to her. She thinks that women and humans who have the right to choose are just like men. She refused the man who proposed to her because she did not love him. Until she met Mr. Knightly and fall in love and then get married. After marriage, Emma wanted to stay in her village to accompany her father, this also proved that Austen insisted that women could choose and be able to argue.

“The woman was better off; she might have the assistance of fine clothes, and privilege of bashfulness, but the man had only his own good sense to depend on;..”

The above snippet explains how Jane Austen shares the situation of women who are seen as good only with beautiful clothes and shyness, but men are seen from how they think. Jane criticizes how women cannot be seen from how they think and what they want. Gender really influences the space of people in the past, because with the view of women only as goods and doing things that have been determined then the space for movement is limited. How Austen adds ‘good sense’ in the men's section describes it is not important if a woman has ‘good sense’ because that is not her space.


In conclusion, the journey of the Emma story has the essence of the search for identity and love which is also peppered with romantic stories in ancient times. Do not forget to give a situation where it is still up to social status issues. In this interesting story Jane describes how Emma's life as a woman in those days with her determination to carry out what she wanted to do. Topic feminism is neatly arranged with the addition of these things. Jane Austen gives a beautiful masterpiece by reflecting herself in the novel.

Jane Austen described Emma's figure as independent, courageous, and intelligent to strengthen all her thoughts in showing resistance to behavior towards women at that time. This proves that this novel has the theme Feminism seen from biography Austen who chose not to marry a historical background at that time which forced women to marry voluntarily because of economic conditions. That could also be one of the reasons why Jane did not choose to marry because of the lives of women with this and that limitation, Austen chose to live with her writings.


  1. http://wew.i-scholar.in
  2. http://www.localhistories.org/austen.html
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_feminism
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novel
  5. https://www.questia.com/library/120096574/this-thing-we-call-literature
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Woman’s Life In Jane Austen’s Novel Emma. (2021, September 02). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 14, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/womans-life-in-jane-austens-novel-emma/
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