Jane Austen's Emma is a novel of courtship. Like all of Austen's novels, it centers around the marriage plot: who will marry whom? For what reasons will they marry? Love, practicality, or necessity? At the center of the story is the title character, Emma Woodhouse, a heiress who lives with her widowed father at their estate, Hartfield. At the beginning of the novel, she is a self-satisfied young woman who feels no particular need to
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wrongheaded aspirations that Emma instilled in Harriet are now gone, and she becomes engaged to her original and most appropriate suitor. She even learns of her parentage: her father is a respectable tradesman.
The novel concludes with marriage: between Robert Martin and Harriet Smith, Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax, and between Mr. Knightly and Emma Woodhouse, who has grown to accept the possibility of submitting some degree of her independence to a husband.