Knightley Moves In: Place and Resolution in Emma College

In Jane Austen’s Emma, Mr. George Knightley chooses to live at Hartfield with Emma Woodhouse, the protagonist and heroine, after their marriage, instead of moving her to his elaborate estate, Donwell Abbey. This decision is significant because of what the choice reveals about their relationship. Typically, in a Jane Austen novel, married women move out of their family home into the house of their husbands, adopting their husband’s life as their own. However, Mr. Knightley makes the sacrifice to leave his substantial property to live with Emma because of her anxious, ill father who must remain at Hartfield. The decision proves the importance of Emma in his life as well as the depth of his love, and the decision works in accordance with the close friendship the two have always had with one another. The event is also significant in its consistency with Emma’s marital wishes for herself that she expressed to Harriet at the beginning of the novel. Despite the unusual living arrangement of the couple, their situation reveals great depth of love, is consistent with Emma’s character needs and wants, and makes sense once the history and dynamics of their relationship is considered.

Emma and Mr. Knightley marry for love and even...

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