Emma is a beautiful young woman, confident within her place in society. She is popular, respected and wealthy, everything a regency lady could wish for. Eventually she realises the man she loves is none other than Mr Knightley, an old family friend and neighbour. Thankfully, he has loved her for ages and we have the proverbial happy ending we all look forward to in Jane Austen’s novels. Perfect.
However, at 37 years old I find it strange that he is not already married. He’s rich, handsome and has a pleasant disposition. Why has he not been snapped up?
When you consider that the average age for a rich man to marry was between 28-30 years of age, our Mr Knightley is way over the desirable age for a first time husband. Couple that with the life expectancy of a wealthy man in the early 1800’s at only 60 years old, poor Emma is likely to be a widow before her wedding bouquet hits the ground.
Now I understand that he has been keen on her for a few years and was just biding his time in the hope that she would fall in love with him too, but remember he was already 16 when Emma was born. That would have made her only 12 when he should have been thinking about finding himself a wife. Surely he would not have thought of her as a prospective mate when she was not even a teenager.
Now apart from a mild flirtation with Frank Churchill, Emma seems to have had no other girly crushes or suitors, something else I find strange, she is after all 21. When you take into consideration that they are among the local gentry, surely there would have been a few others gentlemen interested in her? I love Jane’s work and I understand that she was limited to what she could write, but in today’s society these are questions we would expect to find answers for. If Jane was allowed to write what she really thought, without censure from society, I wonder if she would change anything.
What do you think?