By proposing a quantitative game-theory model of the marriage plot in Jane Austen’s Emma, this essay demonstrates that free-market moral philosophy underwrites Austen’s representation of matrimony and key formal elements of her writing—particularly, matters of verbal profusion. Her famed stylistic “economy” is revealed to be structured by the emerging capitalist economy that Adam Smith theorized in The Wealth of Nations. Establishing the correspondences among several kinds of economy, the essay unites economic and formal approaches to Austen’s work.
Trisha Urmi Banerjee recently received her PhD in English from Harvard University. Her current book project theorizes the relation between the dorsal surface of the human body and fundamental narrative structures.
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Trisha Urmi Banerjee; Austen Equilibrium. Representations 1 August 2018; 143 (1): 63–90. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/rep.2018.143.1.63
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