Essay on Views of Marriage in Jane Austen's Emma

Essay on Views of Marriage in Jane Austen's Emma

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Views of Marriage in Jane Austen's Emma

The dominant theme that constantly runs through this novel is that of
marriage. All of the important activities of the novel are focused
around various attempts from Emma, to arrange them, prevent them, or
hinder them; this idea is empathized in both chapter 1, where Emma
replies in discussion to Miss Taylor's marriage "I made up my mind on
the subject. I planned the match from that hour", and in chapter 7
when Emma is told by Harriet of Mr Martins proposal and uses clever
manipulation over Harriet to influence her rejecting decision: "You
think I ought to refuse him then?...Ought to refuse him! My dear
Harriet, what do you mean? Are you in doubt as to that?...I lay down a
general rule, Harriet, that if a woman doubts as to whether she would
accept a man or not, she certainly ought to refuse him". This in
itself instantly portrays the idea of Emma and her interfering nature
of marriages and relationships which is quite obviously going to
increase as the novel moves on.

The novel itself actually begins on the wedding-day of Miss Taylor to
Mr Weston; something significant in introducing the theme of marriage
to the novel early. This particular engagement is another one from
which as been set up by Emma. This marriage and idea of Emma loving
match-making being introduced so early in the novel brings a certain
impetus into the reading, and expands the readers imagination into how
and why the three major couplets; Knightley and Emma, Robert Martin
and Harriet and Frank Churchill could all end up being close. Other
than these major couplets, most of what happens in the novel is
generally to do with people proposing and being accepted or rejected,
marriage plans fall...

... middle of paper ...

the match making field.

Throughout the novel, Mr Knightley is the character that shrewdly
observes that Emma and her match making is more likely to do more harm
than good. With this in mind, there is an irony in what immediately
follows, as Emma declares her resolution to find a match for Mr Elton
the vicar. In this particular activity she will do even more harm to
herself than even Mr Knightley could foresee. Her attempts to match
Harriet and Mr Elton ends abruptly in chapter 15 after Mr Elton's
proposal of marriage to Emma, and results in a huge embarrassment from

Overall therefore, throughout this novel, each chapter is vigorously
based upon marriage in one way or another, and in the whole is
attempting to represent the views and opinions of people in Jane
Austen's time, in particular in the light of gender, class and
material differences.

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