The Necessity of Marriage for Women in Austen’s EMMA

Besides the text of the novel, for this assignment you will need to consult the following materials in the Broadview edition of Emma: Appendix C: William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, “Of Parent and Child,” pp. 435-436, and Appendix D: “Of the Husband and Wife,” pp. 437-438
In Austen’s time women only acquired legal standing [“coverture”] in marriage through their husbands, who were considered “barons” or “lords” over their wives, who were considered “femes covert.” Outside of marriage, women were legal nullities with no right of ownership or legal standing in courts of law. The vulnerability of unmarried women, especially illegitimate daughters [“filius nullius”], is a major theme in Emma. According to Blackstone, an illegitimate child “cannot be heir to any one, neither can he have heirs, but of his own body; for, being nullius filius, he is therefore of kin to nobody, and has no ancestor from whom any inheritable blood can be derived.” In Blackstone’s explanation, “blood” stands for class/social rank, which as we see in Emma, is acquired either through legitimate (acknowledged) birth or marriage. But even a wealthy and “legitimate” (in terms of acknowledged parentage) female character like Emma cannot possess or pass on her wealth if she remains unmarried. Using proper essay structure (with beginning, body, and conclusion), please explain why, regardless of class rank or birth origin, marriage to a man is deemed essential to the novel’s female characters: Emma Woodhouse, Harriet Smith, and Jane Fairfax.
**1,000 words maximum–please observe the word limit and the following instructions carefully. Failure to do so will result in a lower grade.
**The entire essay must be typed into or pasted into the box provided. If you prefer to draft your essay in a Word Doc, then when you’re done, copy the text from the Word Doc and paste it into the box on CANVAS. Please do not submit your essay as an attached Word Doc or link or any kind. Essays submitted in any other way than specified will not be read.
**You must NOT consult any outside sources or receive any outside assistance while completing your essay. If I detect any signs of borrowing (plagiarism) or sharing of essays, you will receive no credit for this assignment. Keep in mind that successful plagiarism is impossible thanks to the miracle of the internet.
** Please EDIT your essay carefully before submission. No typos, punctuation or grammatical errors, or misspellings allowed. I’m giving you unlimited attempts to submit your essay so you will have multiple chances to edit your work before the deadline! This means that there will be no excuses for badly edited essays after the deadline!

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