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Views Of Marriage In Jane Austen's Emma

857 words - 3 pages

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 falling through, and various well-meant attempts at
match making from Emma.

The importance of marriage as a theme in this novel has to be judged
against the background of ideas on the subject in Jane Austen day. For
middle class women such as Emma and Jane Fairfax, making a suitable
marriage was an important matter. Emma's great wealth which she
appears to have control of produces her reasons in which she does not
need to be married, and should stay independent: Emma acknowledges
this in chapter 10, "I must see somebody very superior to anyone I
have seen yet, to be tempted". Here Emma is beside herself and
highlights almost a snobbishness of a class society that continues to
run though the novel. It is this idea of a class society that Emma
tends to use as her framework for her match making.

Within chapter ten, the whole conversation between Harriet and Emma is
particularly based upon the subject of marriage. Emma declares that
she has "non of the usual inducements of women to marry"....

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