Emma

The Unexpected, Multi-Sided Importance of Miss Bates 12th Grade

While Miss Bates, in Jane Austen’s Emma, may initially be perceived as a minor character from afar, upon deeper analysis it can be noted that she is of capital importance in this novel. Serving as a representative of Highbury’s lower classes, Miss Bates not only gives readers an insight into their situation, but she also serves as an example of the correct behaviour that would be expected from upper classes towards their social inferiors. Being the town’s gossip also makes Miss Bates an important source of news in Highbury and she also acts as a spokesperson for the mysterious and reserved Jane Fairfax.

Due to the fact that she is the daughter of the late vicar of Highbury, one would expect Miss Bates to be living a fairly comfortable life in terms of finance. However, she and her mother face the predicament of having to survive on the charity of the benevolent members of the upper class. This leads us to conclude that the character of Miss Bates has been constructed in this way for Austen to be able to illustrate the relationships that exists between members of the upper class and their social inferiors. For example, it is mainly through the Bateses that Austen is able to show Mr Knightley as a model of correct gentlemanly...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 873 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 6708 literature essays, 1809 sample college application essays, 276 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in