Emma's Development And Progression: .
Emma is a member of the gentry" class in English society. The gentry have land and money, are considered to be ladies and gentlemen, and are considered to be quite genteel. Emma's membership in this class is essential to the thesis of the novel because in the highly stratified society of 19th century England, the behavior of the upper social classes was controlled and dictated to the extreme by the member's social peers. People such as Robert Martins, a farmer, is so far below Emma's social class that she "cannot help him." It is not fitting for a woman of the gentry" class to even consider his existence. Therefore, the context of Emma's social position and the rules of behavior that govern her rank are essential realities that shape Emma Woodhouse's development.
Elegance, therefore, far from being an antiquated notion, was used to describe a person who truly knew how to behave in society with ease and honesty. Emma Woodhouse, despite her social standing and her basic intelligence, is not such a person when the novel opens. The narrator lets the reader understand this very clearly in the description of Mr. Knightley as "one of the few people who could see faults in Emma Woodhouse, and the only one who ever told her of them". This was not, the narrator continues, "particularly agreeable to Emma herself" but she tended to pay attention to Mr. Knightley's chiding only when it suited her. Yet it is the influence of Knightley and the lessons he teaches that bring about Emma's education and the pedagogical relationship between them, which turns into, or reveals to them, their love for each other is the central relationship in the novel.