Emma by Jane Austen
Question: How does Jane Austen present the themes of love and marriage
in the novel Emma?
Answer: Jane Austen's novels incorporate her observations on the
manners of her time and class, and while they often relate courtship,
love, and marriage, Austen herself never married. In the essay below I
will be discussing how the author, Jane Austen, presents the themes of
love and marriage in the novel Emma. The novel Emma is about a young
woman who is interested in matchmaking. Emma is the central character,
who is the daughter of wealthy gentleman, her mother died when she was
young leaving her to be brought up by Miss Taylor. The novel is
essentially a story of how Emma matures from a clever young woman to a
more modest and considerate woman. By using Emma as the central
character, using authorial comments, beginning the novel with an
example of what makes a perfect marriage and through couples who get
married and couples who might have got married, Austen has chosen to
present the themes of love and marriage.
At the novels beginning Jane Austen introduces things she sees as the
fundamentals of a marriage, which are always echoing in the back. In
the first chapter the novel’s title character, Emma Woodhouse is
introduced. She is the youngest of two daughters. She has no mother
and a father who imposes no limits on her behaviour or
self-satisfaction. While her mother died long ago, Emma was brought up
by Miss Taylor. Just as the novel begins Miss Taylor has just married
Mr Weston leaving Emma short of a companion. Emma feels the loss of
Miss Taylor, who was “peculiarly interested in herself, in every
pleasure, every scheme of hers – one to whom she could speak every
thought as it arose, and who had such an affection for her as could
never find fault” (page 6).
Emma tries to take credit for the marriage claiming she matched Miss
Taylor and Mr Weston.
“And you have forgotten one matter of joy to me, said Emma, and a very
considerable one - that I made the match myself. I made the match, you
know, four years ago; and to have it take place, and be proved in the
right, when so many people said Mr Weston would never marry again, may
comfort me for anything.”
Emma says this to Mr Knightly and her father about the marriage of
Miss Taylor and Mr Weston. This quote gives the reader a hint of
Emma’s character, and a glimpse of the major marriage and matchmaking
themes of the novel.
Within the first few paragraphs of the book, Jane Austen praises Emma
while she is “handsome, clever and rich,” she is also spoiled and
self-centred, less concerned with Miss Taylor’s happiness than her
loss of a companion. Throughout the novel Emma identifies matches
which as reader we know will not work which makes the reader think,
what does make a good marriage? (In...