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She was always quick and assured: Isabella slow and diffident. And ever since she was twelve, Emma has been mistress of the house and of you all. In her mother she lost the only person able to cope with her. She inherits her mother's talents, and must have been under subjection to her."

Emma by Jane Austen chapter 5 volume 1

Is the bold refers to " her mother's talent"? meaning ( her mother's talent must have been under subjection to her "Emma") ?

2 Answers 2

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If we inherit something from someone, that usually means they leave something to us when they die, e.g. when my grandfather died, he left me his car (I inherited my grandfather's car).

That is the literal meaning, but we can also use it figuratively to talk about a personal quality or aspect of personality that we have, which we suppose came from (usually) a parent who has (or had) that quality. I have inherited my father's hair, my mother's common sense, sense of humour, etc.

Also we can perhaps inherit a role or duty when someone else dies, leaves, etc - I inherited the manager's job when Bill Brown retired.

It appears Emma's mother had a talent for dominating or managing people, and Emma is quick and assured like her. While her mother was alive, these talents meant that Emma was under subjection to her (was dominated by her). When Emma's mother died, Emma became mistress of the household in her place.

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  • So Emma must have been under subjection to her mother
    – Ali
    Aug 7, 2022 at 18:09
  • @Ali - that's what I said in the sentence before the last in my answer. Aug 7, 2022 at 18:52
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No, the and coordinates two predicates, and they unambiguously have the same subject.

So

She inherits her mother's talents, and [she] must have been under subjection to her.

To get your interpretation you'd need an explicit pronoun (demonstrative or relative):

She inherits her mother's talents, and they/these must have been under subjection to her.

or

She inherits her mother's talents, which must have been under subjection to her.

These sentences are grammatically fine, but don't make much sense.

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