Margaret : A Game Of Mother May I?

2044 WordsJul 30, 20169 Pages
Education in Emma: A Game of “Mother May I?” It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is the queen of depicting strong, independent heroines and dashing, empathetic heroes, as well as their witty interactions with one another. However, at their core, Austen’s novels are also about complex mother-daughter relationships. During the 1800s, the education that girls received was mainly geared towards running a household and finding wealthy husbands. As a result, mothers and governesses, who often held mother-like roles, were imperative to girls’ education, both formal and informal (Swords 80). In Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet takes every measure, for better or for worse, to ensure that her daughters find good marriages in an…show more content…
Furthermore, as Emma matures, the audience gains an insight into the views of the time period toward women involved in education. The crux of Emma focuses on Emma’s relationship with Mrs. Weston, who, upon the novel’s opening, the narrator clearly indicates that Emma views as a mother: “Her mother had died too long ago for her to have more than an indistinct remembrance of her caresses; and her place had been supplied by an excellent woman as governess, who had fallen little short of a mother in affection” (Austen 1). In terms of life lessons, Mrs. Weston is the person who influences Emma the most as she grows up. It is she who instills in her good manners and morals. She teaches her to be charitable to people, no matter their social status. Her geniality and good breeding make her an ideal 18th century woman for Emma to emulate. Perhaps it is Mrs. Weston’s teachings that result in Emma frequently inviting Miss Bates, a poor widow, and Mrs. Goddard, a school principal, to her supper table. However, it is not to be implied that Miss Taylor is the perfect motherly figure for Emma. The narrator notes that Miss Taylor fails to properly administrate Emma by letting “Emma [do] just what she likes” (1), which results in Emma’s major faults as a character, such as “having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself” (1). Ultimately, it is the informal
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