I was reading a brief summary of Jane Austin’s life and I
realized that aspects of it parallel to the novel (just as a lot of authors do).
Emma was the last book to be
published, right before her death. Since it was created so late, she was able
to reflect upon her life and incorporate it into the novel. Austen lived with her parents for her entire life,
first in Steventon and later in Bath, Southampton, and Chawton. Though not
wealthy, her family was well connected and well educated. Austen briefly attended
boarding school in Reading but received the majority of her education at home.
According to rumor, she had a brief love affair when she was twenty-five, but
it did not lead to a marriage proposal. Two years later she accepted and then
quickly rejected a proposal. She remained unmarried for the rest of her life.
Austen died in 1817, at age forty-one. In order to
create Harriet and Emma as characters, Jane Austen drew ideas from her life.
Just as Harriet, Austen was well-educated and well connected (in Harriet’s
case, merely from Emma). They both attended boarding school. Also, they both
had confusing love lives. Both ultimately denied a marriage proposal. With Mr.
Martin (in the novel), Harriet was conflicted and, internally, wished to accept
but ended up denying. For Austen, the same confliction and confusion is demonstrated
through her acceptance and then quick rejection. Yet, living with her family
her entire life and never marrying seems to sound more like Emma as opposed to Harriet.
Emma as a whole represents many things that Jane Austen was not, most likely
reflecting her deep desires through the character. Either way, by looking to
her own life for ideas and inspiration, Austen was able to create a more
realistic and intriguing novel.