The Art of Matchmaking: Dos & Don’ts

Emma Woodhouse repeatedly mismatched.

In fact, she arguably has few — if any —successful relationships to her credit. Still, she is worthy of analysis. For whose failures better to learn from than a heroine of sincere heart and unprecedented ambition?

This installment shares dos and don’ts to abide by in the art of matchmaking.

Do consider the match from both perspectives.

“Men of sense, whatever you may choose to say, do not want silly wives.” – Mr. Knightley

Objectivity is a lost prize in matters of the heart. Had Emma pondered upon her match regarding the betterment of each party, she would have recognized Mr. Elton as marrying down. And, as it were, Harriet Smith would have been sorely lacking a husband of good character.


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Don’t impose your own preferences.

One man’s style must not be the rule of another’s. – Mr. Knightley 

Desires are not public affair or shared nature. Emma cannot puppeteer the emotions of Harriet’s heart. . . Though that doesn’t sway her from attempts.

Emma does a great disservice when her judgment of Mr. Martin influences Harriet to decline his proposal.

Do temper expectations.

To wish was to hope, and to hope was to expect. – Jane Austen 

Love keeps no time. To it, a moment can seem like forever. And a lifetime but a blink. Similarly, a picture, the picture Mr. Elton insisted on having of Harriet translated into something much grander in the eyes of Emma.

Her hopes were dashed to learn Mr. Elton did not hold emotions for her dear friend.


Don’t pair individuals of different backgrounds.

“Every body has their level.” – Mr. Elton 

Like attracts like. Though not impossible, a person is best suited to wed one from a similar manner of which they are accustomed.

Insulted that Emma would think him courting Harriet Smith, Mr. Elton says, “I am not, I think, quite so much at a loss. I need not so totally despair of an equal alliance, as to be addressing myself to Miss Smith!”

Now, one might recall the inequality of Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax. He, the heir to the Churchill estate. Her, an orphan with the intention of becoming a governess. However, Jane was given many opportunities by her guardians, who treated her as a daughter, and became quite accomplished.

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Do listen to the qualities a person values.

“You must be the best judge of your own happiness.” – Emma Woodhouse 

Harriet can hardly speak of anything besides her stay with the Martins or farmer Mr. Robert Martin himself. Still, Emma persisted to matchmake her with a gentleman.

In the end, the couple reunites — no thanks to meddling.

imperfections-2Don’t manipulate one match to fit the other.

Vanity working on a weak head produces every sort of mischief. – Jane Austen. 

One cannot become another. Despite shepherding Harriet in ways of society and duties of a lady, “the natural daughter of somebody” did not have the wherewithal to rise in the stature which Emma anticipated.

The “lessons,” if you will, could not bridge the chasm between Harriet and the young vicar Mr. Elton.

Do be honest.

“Seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised.” – Mr. Knightley 

With yourself and your pairing, tis best practice to be truthful. If Emma had first realized the imbalance of status and character between Harriet and Mr. Elton, she surely would have excused them all from heart pains.

She confided in Harriet of Mr. Elton’s declaration of affection, seeing his faults. It was not until her friend was predisposed to Mr. Knightley that Emma recognized Harriet’s shortcomings.

Share your matchmaking tips in a comment below!

More from The Art of Matchmaking Series





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