Posted by Kathy F. on July 19, 1997 at 10:15:31:
In reply to Class Liberalities posted by Jen K on July 18, 1997 at 12:18:17
] Hmm, Emma always makes me wonder (though I'm on my first reading I've seen the film several times) about class and social circle. How could Emma and her father, being of wealth and distinction, spend so much time playing cards with a schoolteacher and and poor old maid? I understand that she lacks proper society due to her inability to leave Highbury, but to choose what seems "improper" society instead? Is everyone really allowing Emma to break rank purely for her amusement?
I don't think they were "improper" but were still considered "gentlewomen" even if they were poor. Certainly the Bateses were kept in a higher society by the charity of their friends (especially Mr. Knightley), but they were born gentlewomen, and with the help of their neighbors, would die that way.
In Emma2 and the book, Emma decides that she won't give the Coles too much honor, but rather refuse their "impertinent" invitation to their little party. But when the rest of her friends are going, and she feels left out, she changes her mind, and justifies it by saying that if everyone else thinks it is okay to mix with the Coles, it must be. They were not born into the gentry, but were working their way there.