Only Miss Bates remains the perpetual spinster, serving as a warning to those women who are unable to achieve matrimony during their youth. Ironically, this is the path that Austen herself was forced to follow. Neither she nor her sister ever married, and Austen was dependent on the charity of her brothers for most of her adult life. Because of Austen’s personal financial difficulties, it is not surprising that almost all of her heroines struggle with similar issues (all of which are typically resolved by marriage at the end of the novel). Emma then becomes a sort of idealized vision of the best possible scenario for an intelligent woman to maintain her independence. Yet, as Austen notes by the end of the book, even a woman like Emma cannot help but get married in the end.
John Carman of the Los Angeles Daily News wrote that "at times, Emma seems to be a Melrose Place for the drawing-room set." He also noted it to be "scrumptiously filmed," calling it "a feast for the eyes and a balm for the heart."  The Daily Herald however gave a negative review, and believed it was the worst of the three versions released. The reviewer still praised it for being "natural, faithful and likable," but criticized Strong as miscast. Davies, remarked the newspaper, "has written a pithy, direct Emma that, unlike his script for Pride and Prejudice, clocks in at a fraction of the time it takes to read the book."