What examples show the themes of love and marriage in Emma by Jane Austen?

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mrshh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many examples which show the themes of love and marriage in the novel Emma. Emma considers herself to be a skilled matchmaker. She seeks to make those around her happy by finding them a match, and hopes these matches will lead to love and marriage.  

The story begins after Miss Taylor's marriage to Mr. Weston. Miss Taylor had been Emma's governess, and had become her dear friend. Emma considers their marriage bittersweet because she misses her friend. The Westons' marriage is mentioned many times throughout the story.

Emma convinces Harriet Smith that Mr. Elton is an ideal match for her. Harriet is fond of Mr. Robert Martin, a farmer beneath her in social class. Emma dissuades her friend from this, promoting Mr. Elton instead. Harriet slowly comes to think of Mr. Elton as a potential love match. Emma tirelessly tries to bring the two together, only to find out Mr. Elton is interested in her instead.

While Emma is very interested in the affairs of others, she does not plan to marry. In the story, it is made clear:

Marriage, in fact, would not do for her. It would be incompatible with what she owed to her father, and with what she felt for him. Nothing should separate her from her father.

Emma feels she cannot leave her father. Instead, she seeks to bring marital bliss to others rather than herself. In the end, Harriet does marry Mr. Martin. He is the man she truly loves. Emma marries Mr. Knightley, her dear friend.

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Emma

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