You should be ashamed of yourselves! How dare you even think about the s-word? Don’t you know that this is the nineteenth century? We’re blushing for you!
We’re just kidding. There’s lots of evidence of sex (after all, there are people). There’s even evidence of illicit sex – remember Harriet? She’s the illegitimate daughter of a merchant.Heck, Mrs. Weston even has a baby at the end of the book!
What? You missed the fact that Mrs. Weston had a baby? That’s probably because Austen played by all the social conventions when it came to things like sex – or even babies. And all the social conventions declare that things like babies just aren’t written about in polite society.
Emma does carry this determination to not talk about sex to unusual lengths, though. In fact, it seems downright determined to not think about sex. Remember how Emma seems completely willing to wait for seventeen years before she marries Mr. Knightley? It’s pretty clear that sex isn’t even close to figuring into her equation. Luckily, Mr. Knightley convinces her to change her mind. He says it’s for the sake of her father, but we’re not so sure…