| Quote #1
[…] perhaps no man can be a good judge of the comfort a woman feels in the society of one of her own sex, after being used to it all her life. (5.6)
Mrs. Weston articulates a stream of which is largely sidelined in this narrative – that women, without men, develop their own societies. Readers, the most reliable judges of a novel, are hereby warned not to judge women’s (or Emma’s) actions in society too quickly.
| Quote #2
[…] till it appears that men are much more philosophic on the subject of beauty than they are generally supposed; till they do fall in love with well-informed minds instead of handsome faces, a girl, with such loveliness as Harriet, has a certainty of being admired and sought after, of having the power of chusing from among many, consequently a claim to be nice. (8.44)
Emma’s conviction that Harriet is a gentlewoman leads her to expect unrealistic things from her marriage. Note how many conditional phrases pepper this quote!
| Quote #3
A young woman, if she fall into bad hands, may be teazed, and kept at a distance from those she wants to be with; but one cannot comprehend a young man's being under such restraint, as not to be able to spend a week with his father, if he likes it. (14.24)
Austen’s female characters frequently reflect on the different possibilities available to different genders. In this case, Emma reflects upon the utter economic dependence of women upon their caretakers.