Document Type



Bachelor of Arts in English


Deborah Robinson, Ph.D.


Jane Austen's novels, Pride and Prejudice and Emma, are commonly understood to be classic love stories. However, when read in their historical context, it becomes clear that Austen uses both of these novels to reveal false illusions about the relationsh ip between love and marriage. In this analysis, Elizabeth and Darcy emerge as a fully developed "companionate" couple. This is less true for the eponymous Emma.

Analyzing Elizabeth Bennet' s bildungsroman as she gradually changes her assessments -of both Fitzwilliam Darcy and marriage itself -- reveals that most of the marriages in Pride and Prejudice are not "companionate" marriages. They are instead based on convenience, social status, financial necessity, or simple physical attractions without regard to whether it will be possible for the couple to build a working relationship. A similar situation is true in Emma, although Emma's final epiphany is less developed than Elizabeth's.

[Full title page and Abstract added in 2023 by Professor Case during the English Lit thesis digitization project.]