Emma Gallantry Analysis

Decent Essays

Elements of Gallantry in Emma
How is “gallant” described in the novel Emma by Jane Austen? Emma is a novel detailing the lives of a select group of individuals with a strict social hierarchy living in a small town outside of London in the eighteenth century. The word gallant and its variations are used 25 times in this book. Different characters use it with different connotations, some positive, some negative; overall, it seems to refer to the complimenting or flattering of women. Emma is the main character of the novel, and she has a high social standing, leading her to think highly of herself. A couple of qualities that Emma associates gallantry with are flattery and flirting. For example, Emma notices that Mr. Elton is “most earnestly careful that nothing ungallant, nothing that [does] not breath a compliment to the sex should pass his lips” (I.IX). If what she means by this is that being ungallant is to not compliment women, then being gallant would be to flatter women. Almost every male in the novel is portrayed as a gallant man at one point or another. Early on, Mr. Weston performed an act with “so much gallantry” (I.I) simply by running to borrow umbrellas for Emma and Miss Taylor. Emma, self-appointed as a matchmaker, noted that this gallant act was directed towards Miss Taylor, whom Mr. Weston later marries. Later, Emma describes her own father, Mr. Woodhouse, as having “the tenderest spirit of gallantry” (I.IX). Mrs. Elton also compliments Mr. Woodhouse on his

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