by Jane Austen
Emma Theme of Love
Love is, well, complicated. You can’t marry for love unless you have money. And if you have money, then why worry about getting married? But dating is out of the question – so how do you know if you’re in love? Romantic love, in other words, is a big bucket of worms. Secret engagements, imagined crushes and crushed hopes are all too common in Emma. Love is the unspoken half of all questions of marriage, but learning to recognize love as a value of its own is pretty difficult. Love for families, however, is surprisingly uncomplicated (and surprisingly common). Aged (and irritating) fathers, demanding aunts and silly sisters all get more affection than they deserve.
Questions About Love
- Is Frank and Jane’s decision to keep their engagement secret a respectable one? Do you think that their marriage will be a happy one?
- Emma shows love for her family easily. Does it seem strange that she would decide that she can never have romantic love? Why?
- Why does Mr. Knightley love Emma?
- Is it possible to dissociate love and money? Does the novel’s attitude to the relationship between love and money change?
Chew on This
Emma’s imaginary loves actually contain more emotional content than her eventual "real" love.
Although Emma appears to offer a vision of pure love between Emma and Mr. Knightley, it’s only possible because they’re both wealthy.