By Austen Jane
By Austen Jane
Jane Austen is a celebrated and much loved English novelist who primarily wrote romance novels. Some of her most famous work includes Pride and Predjudice, Sense & Sensibility and Emma. Her work chiefly concerns the lives of the landed gentry—the wealthy families of the upper classes. It is her exploration of contemporary social issues within these families and stories that have made her stories extremely popular. She was a fairly popular author at the time, but only experienced enormous success after her death. Due to publishing anonymously, Jane was an unknown author, but she was celebrated among the upper classes especially. By the 20th Century, she was known by name and generally celebrated as one of the great English novelists.
Austen herself was born in December 1775 and died at the age of 41 in 1817. She was a member of an upper class family who was close. She did not have much fortune to speak of, however, which often prevented her from making a marriage match. She was only engaged once, but on accepting, she realized she had made a complete mistake and rejected the man in question the following day. Although not much biographical information is available for Austen, historians know that she was educated by her father and brother on returning from school, and they supported her writing. She had six brothers and one other sister. Jane Austen started to feel sick, and her health deteriorated quickly, but she continued to work on her writing until she was confined to her bed. Austen was unmarried when she died.
Austen’s earliest writing projects were for her family’s own amusement, not for publication. Most of these pieces of work, including an epistolary novel, are lost—either destroyed by Austen herself, or by other family members. Austen frequently destroyed letters she wrote, and those that were not destroyed by her hand were either censored or destroyed by her sister, Cassandra.
Emma is a widely read and celebrated novel and is one of Austen’s most adapted pieces of work. Mini-series, films, stage-plays and other media have all explored this novel about social ambition and the blunders that can often occur as a result. Austen had originally set out to create a character in Emma who readers would not like, but the general reaction to the heroine is the opposite. It is not always clear from Austen’s writing whether or not we are to judge Emma for her poor behaviour, especially when Emma endeavours to fix things and become a better person.
Although Emma was well received in contemporary society, there were some criticisms about a lack of plot. They believed that there was little to no actual story in the novel because its protagonist was chiefly interested and involved in the relationships of others. Some others felt that it lacked the kind of romance most period pieces explored, especially next to Austen’s Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice. However, most applaud it for its satirical look at the different kinds of youthful ambition, love and match-making.
Emma Woodhouse, a young gentlewoman living with her father in Highbury, has always managed to get her own way. She prides herself on matching people for future marriage and spending time with those she wants to. When she makes friends with Harriet Smith, an orphan with no idea who her parents were, Emma sees a new project and begins to improve her. Over the course of the novel, Emma is concerned with finding a good match in marriage for Harriet while other secrets and schemes unfold around her, including one that will lead Emma to her own marriage.
Emma Woodhouse is a young, attractive, witty and rich woman living with her father, who is always concerned about his and his loved ones’ health. Emma’s old governess, Miss Taylor, has just married and become Mrs. Weston, which Mr. Woodhouse and Emma are upset about. Emma wonders who she will be able to spend time with now that her friend has left Hartfield. When Mr. Knightley, a family friend, comes to visit, Emma announces that she was responsible for the marriage match between Miss Taylor and Mr. Weston. Mr. Knightley does not believe she was responsible for anything—she may have thought it was a good idea, but she did not actually do anything. Emma decides she likes match-making and considers she will do it again. Mr. Knightley advises her against it.
Emma finds a new friend in Harriet Smith, an orphan who does not know who her parents were. Emma believes that Harriet must be the daughter of a gentleman and takes her on as her new project. She advises Harriet against accepting a marriage proposal from Mr. Robert Martin, who is a farmer Harriet spent time with during the Summer. Although Harriet wants to accept the proposal, she follows Emma’s advice and refuses him. Mr. Knightley is sorry that Emma has manipulated Harriet—he thought they would make a splendid couple.
Emma decides that Mr. Elton, the Vicar, would be a perfect candidate for Harriet and manipulates the two into spending time together. Emma is pleased that Mr. Elton has started to show affection for Harriet and is sure that a proposal will be coming soon. During both a painting session and when Mr. Elton hands them a riddle, Emma can see that he is in love with Harriet. However, when Harriet is sick and cannot attend a party, Emma is left alone with him in a carriage on the way home. The suspicions of others that Mr. Elton is, in fact, in love with Emma are made a reality when Mr. Elton asks Emma to marry him. Disgusted, Emma refuses him. She tells him she thought he would ask Harriet to marry him. Mr. Elton is insulted that she thinks he would stoop so low in marriage—Harriet is his social inferior. Mr. Elton leaves Highbury, and Harriet is heartbroken. Emma decides to take a step back from influencing and match-making in people’s lives and has to take care of Harriet, who is still in love with Mr. Elton.
Frank Churchill, Mr. Weston’s son from his first marriage, finally arrives in Highbury to pay his respects to his father and new wife. The entire neighbourhood buzzes with talk of him, and Emma is sure that most, including the Westons, consider Emma and Frank to be a good match. While Mr. Knightley takes an instant dislike to him, Emma fancies she might be in love with Frank. She is pleased by his attention to her and encourages him. Jane Fairfax has also arrived in Highbury. Emma has known her since they were young and dislikes her because she is better accomplished than Emma despite her inferior standing. Jane is at Highbury because she has refused to go to Ireland with the Campbell family, who she has been living and studying to become a governess with, and Emma suspects that something else is going on. When a pianoforte for Jane arrives, Emma believes that Mr. Dixon, whom one of the Campbell sisters had just married, is in love with Jane and has sent the pianoforte and endeavours to find out for herself. When she suggests that this is her theory to Frank, he teases her out in the open to try and make her blush. Emma and Jane play the piano at a party, and Emma is surprised to see that Frank and Jane not only know one another, but have also sung together before. They end the party with a few dances. Emma and Frank dance with one another and Emma is more positive than ever that he is in love with her.
Frank suggests that they should hold a dance, which Emma and the others all agree to. While initial plans are to hold it at Randalls, with the Westons hosting, they find that there is not enough room for all the couples they want to invite. The Crown Inn is then suggested as a possible location and after persuading Mr. Woodhouse that it would be far better for his health to be there than at Randalls, everyone agrees to it. Emma is worried that Frank will be called back by Mrs. Churchill, his controlling Aunt, before the dance can occur, and her worst fears come true. Frank has to leave for Enscombe, and the dance is forgotten.
Mr. Elton returns from Bath with a wife, the former Miss Hawkins, who is not from a family of good standing, but has a fortune behind her. Emma dislikes her immediately because she is self important and has no manners and the two do not get along well. Mrs. Elton decides to take Jane under her wing because she does not feel it is fair for a woman as accomplished as her to not be a governess in a great home.
News that Frank is to return to Highbury reaches Emma. She decides that she is no longer in love with him and that she must not encourage him when he returns if he appears to still be in love with her. She is still determined to never marry, particularly for her father’s sake. Emma is pleased that Frank does not seem so attracted to her, and—especially later, after he rescues Harriet from a group of gypsies—believes he might be a good match for Harriet. Frank begs them to hold the dance again now that he and the Churchills are much closer geographically, and the date is set. Mrs. Elton expects to begin the dancing, but Mrs. Weston had wanted to give the honour to Emma. Emma dances with Frank. While dancing, Emma watches Mr. Elton insult Harriet by asking others to dance and then claiming he did not dance when it was suggested he do so with Harriet. Mrs. Elton, clearly in on the scheme, was delighted with his behaviour. Mr. Knightley, who disliked dancing a great deal, asked Harriet to dance with him. Emma is grateful to him.
Harriet tells Emma she is not in love with Mr. Elton anymore and burns things she had kept that had reminded her of him. Emma wondered when her relationship with Frank might start, especially after the rescue from the gypsies. Later, after going for a walk, most of Highbury society end up at Hartfield playing a game of unscrambling letters. Frank and Emma delight in the creation of “Dixon” and “blunder” and Jane is upset. Mr. Knightley suggests that Frank and Jane might have an understanding, but Emma denies it. Harriet hints that she is in love with someone else who has helped her in the past and made her happy. Emma tells her not to mention his name, assuming they are both talking about the same person and tells her to watch for his behaviour to see how he truly feels about her. Emma is hopeful that Frank and Harriet will end up together, especially as it will outdo her match between Mr. and Mrs. Weston.
Mrs. Elton, disappointed that her sister and brother-in-law have put off their visit, decides to go and explore Box Hill, a nearby area in Surrey. Emma also wants to go, having never been herself, but when it is suggested by the Westons that they go as one group, Emma is upset. She accepts, however, and plans are made. A horse becomes lame, which delays their journey, and Mr. Knightley jokingly suggests that they all come to his home to pick strawberries. Everyone agrees that it is a good idea, and Mrs. Elton tries to take over the planning for the event. Mr. Knightley puts her in her place. The horse recovers quickly, and they decide to go to Box Hill on the following day. The day at Donwell with Mr. Knightley is a nice one, but Frank has not arrived. Emma overhears Mrs. Elton pushing Jane to accept a governesses position with a family friend of hers, but Jane is determined not to take employment until the Campbells have returned. Emma feels sorry for her. While taking care of her father so that Mrs. Weston could wander around the gardens, Jane asks her to give her goodbyes to everyone. She wants to escape Mrs. Elton’s clutches while she can. Emma agrees to do so. Shortly after, Frank arrives. Mrs. Churchill was sick and kept him late. He is hot and angry because of the heat, and Emma has to send him away to cool down. She asks him to come to Box Hill with them the next day, and while he refuses to at first, he finally agrees to it. Emma is considering falling in love and marrying him after all, as this is what is expected of her.
The day at Box Hill is not a success as everyone is grumpy and tired and splits into separate groups of friends. Emma has noticed Mr. Knightley is taking considerable care with Harriet as well as Jane, and she is pleased Knightley has changed his impression of Harriet. Emma and Frank tease and flirt with one another in front of the group, and Emma insults Miss Bates with a cruel comment about her never-ending discussions. Although Miss Bates continues to think of Emma as a kind, gentle lady, Mr. Knightley tells her off. Emma is suitably ashamed and cries the whole way home to Hartfield. Frank leaves Highbury the next day because his Aunt, Mrs. Churchill, demands him to, and Emma finds that she is not in love with him as she thought. She is determined to make a match between Harriet and Frank when he returns.
In the meantime, Mrs. Weston suggests that Mr. Knightley and Jane are in love, but Emma denies it. She does not want Mr. Knightley to marry so that her nephew, Henry, will inherit, but she cannot say she has not noticed his attentions to Jane. He has even suggested on several occasions that she should be nicer to Jane, particularly because she is not as lucky as Emma is. Emma decides to visit Miss Bates the following morning to apologize for her behaviour. During this visit, Emma discovers that Jane is ill and has agreed to take a position as governess at a Mrs. Smallridge’s. Mrs. Elton was pivotal in securing the position, but it was a surprise that Jane agreed to it. While Emma is happier for having done so, Mr. Knightley does not seem to have forgiven her. He respects her for the visit, but does not talk to her for more than five minutes before leaving for London.
News that Frank’s Aunt has died reaches Highbury. Emma is secretly hopeful that this will pave the way for Frank’s engagement to Harriet not that no one in his family could stop him. Emma tries to help Jane by encouraging her to go for a walk and sends her things to help her health. Jane rejects all of her attempts and Emma is at a loss for what to do. The next day, Mr. and Mrs. Weston reveal that Frank is engaged to Jane and has been secretly engaged to her since before he came to Highbury. They are relieved to discover there was no agreement between Emma and Frank, and that she was not in love with him. She is, however, angry that he flirted with her so openly if he was engaged. Frank has promised to explain everything to them in a letter but had to comfort his newly widowed father first. Emma was also sorry to have persuaded Harriet into falling for and hoping for Frank’s interest. She dreads Harriet’s visit but is surprised to find that Harriet is not upset at all. Emma pushes for reasons why Frank’s engagement has not upset her, and Harriet is surprised and insulted that Emma thought the man she was thinking of was Frank. She is in love with a far superior man: Mr. Knightley. She is sure that Mr. Knightley cares for her too, and provides evidence from the dance, paying more attention to her, asking her if she had anyone she cared about and staying half an hour with her at Hartfield but only five minutes with Emma. Emma is shocked—more shocked than she has ever been that Harriet would reach so high above her station, but knows that this is her own doing. Harriet leaves Emma alone, who suddenly realizes that she has been in love with Mr. Knightley all along! Emma hopes that Mr. Knightley will never marry—even if he asks her, she will have to refuse him so that her father is not left alone. It would be better if they stayed the way they are.
In the meantime, Mrs. Weston talks to Jane about the engagement. She sends her thanks to Emma for her kindness, and Emma is afraid that she has caused Jane a lot of pain in the past. She considers that if she had sought Jane out as a friend instead of Harriet then she wouldn’t be in this mess. Mr. Knightley returns to Highbury and walks in the garden with Emma. Emma thinks he is plucking up the courage to announce his intention to marry Harriet, and she cannot stand it. Mr. Knightley asks her if she is disappointed by Frank’s engagement and suggests that time will heal her wounds. Emma insists she never loved Frank. Mr. Knightley asks Emma to marry him, which she agrees to. He has been in love with her for a long time and reveals his fear that she would marry Frank sent him away to London. When he heard that Frank and Jane were engaged, his hope returned, and he rode home through the rain. Emma decides not to tell her father until the time is right to prevent him from getting upset.
The much awaited letter from Frank arrives and details everything that he had had to keep a secret. He apologizes for the pain he has caused Jane and Emma, and explains that he was sure Emma did not love him which is why he used her to hide his engagement from Jane. Jane had broken off the engagement after Frank continued to flirt with Emma in front of her, and this is why she pushed Emma way and took the governess position. Although this does not excuse his behaviour, Emma thinks the letter is a well written one and understands why Frank did what he did. Emma writes to Harriet to tell her about her engagement to Mr. Knightley and suggests that she go to stay with her sister, Isabella, in London for a few weeks. Harriet agrees to do so under the guise of a trip to the dentists, and Emma is happy to not have her in Highbury. Emma announces she will not marry Mr. Knightley until after her father has died to prevent causing him pain or moving him. Mr. Knightley suggests that he move to Hartfield so that they can all stay together.
Emma pays a visit to Jane to see how she is and finds Mrs. Elton there thinking she is the only one who knows Jane’s secret. Jane and Emma start to make friends, and Emma discovers that Jane has refused Mrs. Smallridge’s governess position. After the mourning period, Frank will take Jane back to Enscombe, and they will be married. Mrs. Weston safely gives birth to a little girl, and Emma decides to announce her engagement to Mr. Knightley to her father. They both comfort him and insist that they will not be leaving Hartfield, and although Mr. Woodhouse is upset to begin with, he soon warms up to the idea. Everyone aside from the Eltons thought the match was a good one, and wished the couple well.
Mr. Knightley received word from his brother that Mr. Martin had asked Harriet to marry him again, and this time she had accepted. Emma tries not to show her happiness too much so he won’t suspect her, but she is overjoyed that she will not have to deal with Harriet longing for Mr. Knightley. Mr. Knightley is surprised that Emma’s opinion of the match has changed, and she admits that she didnot judge Mr. Martin or Harriet correctly. Mr. Knightley admits he misjudged Harriet—he had made a concerted effort to get to know her recently and congratulated Emma on transforming her into a fairly accomplished and reasonable girl. Emma is pleased by his compliments. Frank returns to Highbury, and he and Emma talk about their past tricks and manipulations. All is forgiven between them.
Harriet and Mr. Martin were the first to be married, and Emma knew that she would not be able to spend much time with her anymore because of her social status. Her past is discovered: Harriet is the daughter of a tradesman, and Emma is pleased that none of her match-making plots actually worked. Jane and Frank left for Enscombe to be married. Emma and Mr. Knightley finally married after persuading Mr. Woodhouse into letting them do so, and everyone was happy for the couple.
There are many characters who use manipulation to get what they want, or at least to attempt to. Mr. Elton uses Emma’s friendship with Harriet to seek Emma’s hand in marriage. Emma manipulates Harriet into thinking she is a gentleman’s daughter and encourages her to seek a man higher up in society. Frank manipulates and plays games with those around him to hide his secret engagement with Jane, and to also communicate with her when other people are around. While everything is resolved by the novel’s end, the ease with which characters manipulate one another suggests that friendships are disposable as long as the end goal is in sight.
The word game with Jane, Frank, Emma and Mr. Knightley hints at the inability for many of these characters to interpret the others’ intentions and meaning. While Jane and Emma perfectly understand the meaning of “Dixon”, Mr. Knightley is baffled by it. Frank creates the word “blunder”, which Jane understands refers to a mistake Frank has made and is sort of apologizing for, but Emma believes it refers to Jane’s past with Mr. Dixon. This echoes the mistakes characters make in interpreting each others behaviour in regular conversations.
Emma watches other people’s behaviour and is confident in her abilities to decode what is actually happening between people. She is convinced that Jane and Mr. Dixon are or were involved and does not suspect Frank and Jane of their engagement. This is likely due to Emma’s own prejudiced understanding of the unfolding events because she thinks Harriet and Frank will marry one another. That so many of the characters fail to see what is truly happening could suggest that they are socially inept. It could also suggest that it is harder to reveal true feelings and thoughts when honour and manners rely on how someone behaves in their station.
The complicated nature of visiting in Highbury society dictates who should visit whom and when. There are certain events that require people to pay visits. There are also visits that people make purely to find out information or to watch other people. The people higher up in society are expected to pay attention to those who are not as lucky in life. For example, Mr. Knightley wishes that Emma would be kind enough to visit Miss Bates and Jane more often as they are not as lucky as she is. Emma would honestly rather not, and is guilt-tripped into doing so rather than going out of her own wishes.
The secrets and deceptive behaviour in Emma is rife: neither Frank nor Jane reveal how they genuinely feel, but they do it in different ways. Jane remains cold to everyone around her while she hides her secret, whereas Frank is emotional about everything and expresses his delight or hatred for whatever he sees. It is seen as common decency and politeness to not voice thoughts that might be insulting. Emma seems to sit in the middle of these two spaces—she keeps her thoughts to herself if it is appropriate, particularly when she does not want to upset someone like her father, Mr. Woodhouse, but does not shy away from speaking her mind when she can, or when she thinks she can get what she wants.
In the world of Highbury and beyond, men are primarily concerned with business, farming, and so on while women are concerned with parties, visits, having children and taking care of them. There is no question raised as to whether or not these spheres are discriminatory, and the worth of a man or woman is based on their status and how well they carry out the tasks related to that status. Austen plays with gender a little in Emma. Emma is celebrated for her accomplishments as a gentlewoman even though she is probably intelligent enough to perform other tasks and Mr. Woodhouse’s ill health is reminiscent of Mrs. Churchill’s and suggests that he has more feminine qualities in him than anything. There are more frequent moments in the novel that criticize each gender’s inability to cross the boundary between female and male spheres. For example, Mrs. Elton mixes up the day for Mr. Elton’s meeting with Mr. Knightley which suggests that she is incapable of understanding or being part of the business world. While this has often been seen as satirical on Austen’s part, much of it reflects the contemporary societal structure she grew up in.
Match-making is a kind of social sport among both the women and men of Highbury society. Many characters believe that they see things that hint at a possible attachment, when in actual fact it does not suggest anything of the sort. Mr. Cole wonders if Mr. Knightley and Jane will end up together, Emma imagines Mr. Elton, and then Frank as a potential match for Harriet. Mr. and Mrs. Weston hope Emma and Frank will end up together. That the relationships and agreements between people are the source of gossip and influence suggests that this society does not have much else to do with their time. These matches are also based on financial improvement and social status.
There are a series of mistaken romances during the course of the novel. Mr. Elton proclaims he is in love with Emma in a display of affection she is disgusted by. This comes after she is convinced that Mr. Elton’s affection for Harriet means he is in love with her. Harriet believes Mr. Knightley is in love with her because of the attention he has been showing her. While this belief thankfully never goes beyond Emma and Harriet’s ears, it reveals the kind of mistakes that can happen when people influence others to interpret behaviour in different ways. Harriet and Mr. Elton only believe that the other party is in love with them because of Emma’s interference. It is only when she takes a step back from the proceedings that things play out how they were meant to. For example, Harriet only accepts Mr. Martin when she is parted from Emma.
Emma is susceptible to her own schemes, theories and understanding of the world around her, often to the point where she misunderstands what is actually happening. Her pride in making the match, or she she thinks, between Mr. and Mrs. Weston leads her to believe she has an insight and talent for understanding others which blinds her. Harriet is infected by Emma’s pride in her own projects—she believes she is more superior than she actually is which leads to a series of blunders. Emma thinks Jane’s cold treatment of everyone means she believes she is better than her and so she makes Jane’s life much harder by spreading the rumour of her relationship with Mr. Dixon and making references to it in front of other people. Emma does not see that she is hurting other people. She believes it shows her intelligence more than anything.
Marriage is the key goal for many of the young women in Emma and is the source of many different schemes and theories. The novel begins with news of a marriage, which alters Emma’s day to day life considerably. This leads her to search for a friend in Harriet Smith, who she decides will be her next project. Mr. Elton is chiefly concerned with finding a bride in Emma, and then escapes Highbury to find someone else to become Mrs. Elton. The secret engagement between Jane and Frank has to remain secret while his Aunt is still alive because of the unequal status Jane holds in society.
Emma Woodhouse lives at Hartfield with her father, Mr. Woodhouse, and acts as a kind of caregiver for him. Although Emma is charming, generally kind and intelligent, she is also self centered and blind to her own faults. She is also extremely blind to her own feelings—she thinks she is in love with Frank Churchill, but she discovers—after a long time—that she is actually in love with Mr. Knightley. Emma’s series of blunders and mistakes through the novel hurt other people, and she has to make amends for them. She flirts with Frank even though she has no intention of marrying him, insults and talks about Jane behind her back and is cruel to Miss Bates. Emma has had no worries aside from the small concerns of relationships because she has her own fortune and has decided never to marry, which is the opposite of what most women in this society aim for. In fact, it is the opposite of what Emma actually feels, which proves Emma evolves emotionally across the course of the novel. She finally understands herself.
Harriet Smith does not know who her parents are. She lives with Mrs. Goddard and spends time with people who are, Emma believes, below her status in society. Although we later find out that Harriet actually belongs in the same sphere as the people she has been spending time with, Emma fills her head with thoughts of being a gentleman’s daughter. Harriet is led and influenced by Emma to refuse Mr. Martin—a man who is suited to her—which threatens Harriet’s happiness. Harriet is led to believe she is more superior than most, and she sets her eye on Mr. Knightley, a man far above her societal status. While Emma thinks this is outrageous, Harriet only has Emma to blame for the way she is changed. On the whole, she is a sweet, gentle girl, who only wants to please those around her. She is also not Emma’s equal in intelligence, which leads Emma to think more of her own intelligence.
Jane Fairfax is an orphan who was taken in by Colonel Campbell. While with the Campbells, Jane excelled in her accomplishments and received a fine education so that she could become a governess. Although Emma suspects that Jane refuses to go with them to Ireland due to a mistake she makes with a married man, it is discovered that Jane and Frank are in love and have a secret engagement. The keeping of this secret forces Jane to remain cold and reserved, especially when she cannot show she is upset with Frank for openly flirting with Emma. For this reason, she is often misjudged by others. Emma dislikes Jane because she is more accomplished than Emma, and she feels she is inferior to her, but by the end of the novel, Emma and Jane find themselves on more equal footing and may even be friends in the future.
Mr. Knightley lives at Donwell near Highbury and is a long time friend of the Woodhouse family. He visits them nearly every night for cards and conversation and has been present for most of Emma’s life. He corrects her mistakes, provides advice and tries his best to steer her in the right direction, even if she is too stubborn to accept his help. Mr. Knightley is one of the few people in the novel who can actually see the truth in people’s character, and is often correcting Emma on her own mistaken perspectives. While not as cold as Jane might appear, Mr. Knightley does not express his enjoyment for many things and prefers the quieter things in life. He does not like to dance, and he does not play the word-games, but he observes people very well. He is also a man of impeccable morals: he rescues Harriet from the Eltons, chastises Emma for insulting Miss Bates, and looks after those who are in need, for example, when he delivers his entire stock of apples to Jane to make sure she keeps her health.
Frank Churchill is Mr. Weston’s son, whom he gave up to the Churchill family when his wife died, and he found he could not raise him. Frank has grown up in Enscombe, with nothing to want for, but with an extremely controlling Aunt. It is thought he comes to Highbury to pay his respects to his father’s new bride, but he has travelled to see Jane, whom he is secretly engaged to. Frank is open with his emotions, is attractive and charming to everyone he meets and is well liked. The only person who suspects Frank has a secret to hide is Mr. Knightley, who does not approve of him going after Emma. When Frank finally does reveal his secret engagement to Jane, his apologies to everyone involved, including Emma, are enough for Highbury society to forgive him for his behaviour.
Mr. Elton is the Vicar at Highbury and is the object of Harriet’s affections. Emma first chooses him as a possible match for Harriet because he is attractive and kind, but Mr. Elton has actually fallen in love with Emma. He is well aware of his status in society and is insulted that Emma could think he would stoop so low to take Harriet for his wife. After Emma refuses him, he flees Highbury and returns with a rich wife to appear more important. He reveals his truer nature when he is consistently cruel to Harriet.
Miss Bates lives with her mother, Mrs. Bates, and her niece, Jane, in a small house. She talks incessantly without stopping in long passages that bounce from subject to subject and is immensely proud of Jane’s accomplishments. Emma visits because Mrs. Bates is a friend of Mr. Woodhouse’s, but would rather not have to listen to Miss Bates because of her love for Jane. She is insulted by Emma at Box Hill, but cannot voice her displeasure; in fact, she is kind enough to Emma to make her feel terribly guilty for what she has said.
Mrs. Weston is the former Miss Taylor who helped to raise Emma and Isabella after their mother died. It is generally considered that Emma was unteachable, and ungovernable, and so Miss Taylor and Emma were friends more than anything else. Mrs. Weston’s marriage has meant she could escape being a governess, and she seems to be exceedingly much in love with her husband. She hopes that Emma and Frank will end up marrying one another as it is a match she approves of and encourages. She is a sensible woman who loves Emma very much.
Mr. Weston, the owner of Randalls, has been married previously. His son, Frank, left to live with another family after Mr. Weston found he could not take care of him and provide a life of fortune for him. His second marriage to Mrs. Weston is considered to be a better one as they are both on similar standings in society. He appears to be far happier because there is less pressure on him to provide what he cannot. Mr. Weston is fortunate to have his son back in his life and a new born baby girl by the end of the novel. Mr. Weston likes and socializes with anyone who will have him, but does not make a significant impact on anyone.
Mr. John Knightley is Mr. Knightley’s brother and has married Emma’s sister. John wavers between enjoying social outings and wishing that he could be back at home. He is often amazed when people pay visits when they could be at home and grows angry if he is forced to go out in poor weather for no reason, particularly when he does not appreciate the company he is about to keep. John seems like the kind of man who would prefer interesting conversation at home to going over the same things repeatedly.
Isabella Knightley is the wife to Mr. John Knightley and Emma’s sister. She is a remarkably good mother and wife and fulfils all of the expectations of someone in her position. She has inherited her father’s sense of worry, especially where her children are concerned. She even has a favoured Doctor, as Mr. Woodhouse does, and follows his advice on everything related to health. She and Mr. Woodhouse frequently argue over the best health care as both believe their Doctor to be the better one.
Mrs. Elton, the former Augusta Hawkins, marries Mr. Elton after he leaves Highbury for a few weeks. She is a vulgar, controlling woman who likes nothing more than to wield her influence to make people do what she wants. She has no real sense of politeness when it comes to the people are are socially higher than her, and would prefer to show her dislike out in the open. She is particularly cruel to Harriet after hearing of Emma’s plan to marry her off to Mr. Elton, but takes Jane under her wing to take advantage of her accomplishments and to remain the centre of attention. Mrs. Elton is the kind of person who believes she is a greater person because of the people around her, and often tries to put Emma down in conversation.
Mrs. Bates is Miss Bates’ mother, who suffers from her health and old age. She does not speak much, mostly because Miss Bates does not allow her to and is often told small lies by her daughter to protect her. Mrs. Bates knows that Jane is not feeling well despite being told she is fine, so we can assume Mrs. Bates is not as infirm as her daughter likes to make out.
Mr. Woodhouse is the father to Isabella and Emma Woodhouse, and the owner of Hartfield. He worries endlessly about the safety and health of the people he knows, and one of his favourite people is his Doctor, Mr. Perry. He is a difficult person to please and deal with and worries endlessly about everything, especially when it comes to something health related. He does not approve of or celebrate marriage because both Isabella and Mrs. Weston left his company when they married.
Although we never meet Mrs. Churchill, we hear enough about her to form an opinion. Mr. Weston does not care much for her because she keeps Frank away from him and suspects that her illnesses are faked to influence and control Frank every step of the way. Mrs. Churchill uses her weak health as a crutch.
Emma Woodhouse was twenty-one, lived in a comfortable, wealthy home, and had nothing to worry her. She was the youngest of two daughters and had an affectionate father who doted on her. As her sister had already married, Emma had become the mistress of the house. Her mother died when she was young, and a Governess had taken her place. She had been able give Emma the affection her mother might have given her had she still been alive. Miss Taylor was fond of Emma and had lived in the house for sixteen years. In fact, the two women were almost like sisters. Emma did as she liked, but would always take Miss Taylor’s advice into consideration. It was generally agreed that the most dangerous thing about Emma was that she got her way too often.
When Miss Taylor was married it was a sad day for Emma. She had lost her friend. Miss Taylor had married Mr. Weston, who was a nice recently widowed man with a small fortune. Emma had always hoped that they would marry, but she knew she would feel Miss Taylor’s absence keenly. She was grateful for all that Miss Taylor had done for her, but did not know how she would deal without her and thought that she would no longer have anyone to entertain her. Her father had the habits of a much older man than he was, and her sister—even though fairly close geographically—was not available to her every day. Emma would have to try and entertain herself through October and November evenings until her sister would be able to visit at Christmas.
Highbury—the village where the Woodhouses lived—had no equal in family for Emma and her father to entertain. No one could be invited to Hartfield so they could entertain Emma. Although she was miserable, Emma made sure she appeared cheerful once her father was awake. He was a depressed man, and needed regular encouragement to be happy. He was also dependent on those around him, which made losing regular company hard. He was also unable to see that other people may have differing feelings to his own, and believed that Miss Taylor must have been as sad as they were when she married. He would have preferred her to stay at Hartfield with them for the rest of her life. So, when he expressed his wish that Miss Taylor had never been approached by Mr. Weston, Emma disagreed with him. Miss Taylor could not have stayed for the rest of her life, and now she has a home that they can go and visit. Mr. Woodhouse expressed his series of minute worries about walking, and then taking a carriage or the horses to their home. Emma reassured him that everything had been thought of. Once Mr. Woodhouse was in a better mood, Emma set up the backgammon board, hoping to keep his good mood afloat.
Mr. Knightly entered. He was 38 years old, and a well connected and old friend of the family. He was Isabella’s husband’s older brother and lived just a mile away from Highbury, so was always visiting Hartfield. After catching up, Mr. Woodhouse thought Mr. Knightley would have had a dreadful walk because of the rain, but Mr. Knightley assured him that the night was mild. At the mention of the wedding that morning, Mr. Woodhouse once again expresses his sorrow for losing Miss Taylor. Mr. Knightley cannot understand him—independence is a better thing to reach for, and it means Miss Taylor has one less person to please. Emma teases Mr. Knightley: she knows he would say Emma is a troublesome person to please if she was not present. She knows that he likes to find fault with her. Mr. Knightley was one of few people who could see Emma’s flaws, and actually tell her about them. Although Emma recollects her memories of the wedding with happiness, her father assures Mr. Knightley that Emma is a fantastic deal more upset than she lets on. Mr. Knightley would not think otherwise, but the marriage was for Miss Taylor’s advantage and, therefore, Emma must be happy about it. Emma reminds Mr. Knightley that she is also happy because she made the match between them. Mr. Woodhouse begs Emma not to talk about matches or make any other ones. Emma will not for herself, but she will for other people because it is amusing to her. She reminds them all that Mr. Weston had promised never to marry again, and Emma refused to believe it. When he had brought umbrellas for her and Miss Taylor, she knew that he would marry Miss Taylor in the future. Mr. Knightley does not believe she has actually done anything to ensure the marriage, and instead suggested it would be a good idea. She made a lucky guess. Emma disagrees—she made sure Mr. Weston visited, and made many small encouragements. Mr. Knightley believes she could have done more damage to herself than good for Miss Taylor and Mr. Weston—they would have come to the same conclusion by themselves.
Mr. Woodhouse interjects—he does not think Emma thinks of herself before others. He asks her not to make any more matches, but Emma wants to make just one more for Mr. Elton. When he performed the marriage and joined Miss Taylor and Mr. Weston’s hands she thought he looked like he would want the same for himself. Mr. Woodhouse thinks he is a good man, but it would be much better to just invite him to dinner than force him into a marriage match. Mr. Knightley agrees—she can help him with dinner, but not in choosing a wife.
Mr. Weston had been born in Highbury to a respectable family. He had a good education. Once he had come into a small fortune, he entered the military and became Captain Weston. He met Miss Churchill, a member of a great Yorkshire family, and they fell in love. Miss Churchill’s brother and wife did not approve the match because Captain Weston was not her equal. Miss Churchill had her own fortune and ignored her family’s wishes. Although the marriage was a happy one, Mrs. Weston missed her family and the household after they severed their relationship.
Mrs. Weston died three years after they were married and left Mr. Weston with a child and not much in the way of money to support him. Mr. and Mrs. Churchill, with no one to take care of themselves, offered to take care of the boy, and with consideration, Mr. Weston gave up little Frank to their care. Mr. Weston changed the way he was living—he quit the military and entered trade. His brothers, already in business in London, gave him a good reception, and allowed him enough money to support his small house in Highbury. The next 15 or 20 years were spent enjoying the company of society until he realized he had enough money to buy the little estate next to Highbury. This allowed him to marry and to live how he wanted to. His purchase of Randalls and his new wife gave him ample happiness. He had no one to support with his fortune as Frank had taken on the name of Churchill, and should probably never need his real father’s help. He saw his son every year, and was extremely proud of the good man he had become. Frank Churchill’s possible visit to Highbury had always been talked about, but had never actually happened, but now that Mr. Weston had remarried, it was only right that Frank should pay his respects. Mrs. Weston had been written to by Frank, which encouraged the hope that he might come and visit soon.
Mrs. Weston thought it was a lovely letter. It congratulated her on her marriage. Mrs. Weston was happy about everything, except the separation she had between certain friends. The distance between Hartfield and Randalls, however, soothed her worries and unhappiness. Mr. Woodhouse, on the other hand, continued to think of his Miss Taylor as being in a sad position. He was much happier when he heard that all the wedding cake had been eaten. He had thought it was much too rich for his own stomach, and as he thought that his own opinions were those of others, too, he was glad it was all gone.
Mr. Woodhouse liked his friends visiting him at Hartfield. He did not actually talk with people beyond their circle at Highbury because of late hours and large dinner parties disagreeing with him. He liked parties in the evening, and there was rarely a night without visitors. The Westons, Mr. Knightly and Mr. Elton attended a card game one night in Mr. Woodhouse’s drawing room. Mrs. and Miss Bates, and Mrs. Goddard attended too.
Mrs. Bates was the widow of a former vicar of Highbury. She lived with her daughter, who was still single, and was considered a harmless old lady. Miss Bates was not an intelligent girl and was not young, pretty, rich or married. She had to take care of her aging mother, and make sure their small income supported them. Despite this, she loved everyone around her and made sure that they were happy. She thought she was lucky. Mr. Woodhouse liked her because she would talk about trivial things with him. Mrs. Goddard was the mistress of a boarding school where girls could go to get a small education for a reasonable amount of money, and looked after her girls well. Although Emma was happy to have these ladies at her house for company, she did not think they replaced Mrs. Weston well.
One morning, Emma received a letter from Mrs. Goddard asking for permission to bring Miss Harriet Smith with her. Emma had seen Miss Smith before and was interested in her because of her beauty. Emma looked forward to that evening more than she had in a long time knowing that Miss Smith would be good company for her. Harriet Smith was from a common family and had been given a place at Mrs. Goddard’s school. Nothing else was known about her past. She had no friends beyond those at Highbury. Emma was as happy with Harriet’s manners as she was with her beauty: she was not pushy during conversations, but she did not shy away from speaking. Emma believed that she could encourage and push Harriet forward a little more. Considering Emma thought that her friends at Highbury were inferior to Harriet, despite her unknown birth and that she would be wasted at Highbury. Harriet had just returned from Donwell, where she had spent some time with the Martins family. Emma believed this family must be doing her some harm, even though Mr. Knightley thought highly of the family. With a little more polish, Emma believed Harriet could be perfect. She would get her to drop her poor friendships and introduce her to a better society.
Emma spent the rest of the evening watching Harriet. At dinner, Mr. Woodhouse asked the ladies to avoid eating too much of the rich food laid out while he enjoyed his gruel. Harriet left Hartfield overwhelmed with happiness at having finally met Emma. She even shook hands with her before she left!
Emma wasted no time inviting Harriet to Hartfield. As their friendship increased, Emma’s satisfaction in her as a walking partner was clear. Her father never really went far on his walks, and it had been Mrs. Weston who had walked the most with Emma. Harriet was not a clever girl, but she had a sweet personality and wanted to be guided by those she looked up to. Although Harriet could not replace Mrs. Weston, she was valuable in her own unique way. Emma did not believe she would ever be able to have another Mrs. Weston in her home, nor did she want one.
Emma tried to find out who Harriet’s parents were, but Harriet did not know. She would tell Emma anything else but could not give her the answer to these questions. Emma did not think she would have accepted what Mrs. Goddard had told her if she had been in Harriet’s position. She would have pushed for more details. Harriet talked about the Martins family a lot. She had spent two happy months with them. Emma was amused by her simplistic conversation, and encouraged her to talk about them.
Emma is surprised to hear that an eligible bachelor, Mr. Robert Martin, had spent a fantastic deal of time with Harriet during her two month visit. Harriet spoke at great length about Mr. Martin and their moonlight walks and games. Harriet had endless compliments about Mr. Martin—she thought he was a clever man and everyone she spoke to had nice things to stay about him. Mrs. Martin, his mother, thought he would make a good husband one day, but she was in no rush for her son to be married. Emma wonders if Mr. Martin reads at all, considering he and his family are farmers. Harriet assures her he reads the Agricultural Reports and some novels. Harriet does not think he is a handsome man, but she likes the way he looks. She is surprised that Emma had never seen him as he is in Highbury sometimes. Emma would not be interested in a farmer so he might have ridden on his horse past her without her taking a slight bit of notice. Emma does pay attention to those of a low status in society than her own so that she can help them where she can, but farmers are self sufficient, and do not require any of her interest or attention.
Emma expresses her worry that Harriet might think she will become Mr. Martin’s wife. Mr. Martin will probably marry someone below Harriet’s status as Emma is convinced she is a gentleman’s daughter. Harriet must not give anyone cause to think her of a lower status. Harriet feels quite safe at Hartfield, but Emma wants to establish her reputation outside of Hartfield, as well. She must not become a farmer’s wife, or become friends with the uneducated woman Mr. Martin will most likely marry. Harriet will be sorry to lose her friendship with the two Miss Martins, but she would not want to visit the ignorant woman who might become Mr. Martin’s wife. Through this conversation, Emma was convinced that Harriet was not in love with Mr. Martin, even if she had been an admirer of his.
They met Mr. Martin the following day on the Donwell road. Emma stood back while Harriet and Mr. Martin spoke for a few moments. While Harriet is overcome with happiness, Emma asks her to compare Mr. Martin to the other gentlemen Harriet has been introduced to at Hartfield. Emma is surprised that Harriet had not seen how inferior Mr. Martin was. Emma pushes Harriet to compare him to others. Harriet does not think Mr. Martin is as fine as Mr. Knightley. Emma doesn’t think it is even right to compare Mr. Martin to Mr. Knightley. She suggests Harriet should compare him to Mr. Weston and Mr. Elton. Mr. Weston is an old but excellent gentleman which is an example of how good manners evolve over time. Emma suggests that Mr. Martin might become increasingly awkward and ignorant as he grows older. He will think of nothing but his business in the future. As Mr. Martin forgot about the book Harriet had suggested he should read in favour of furthering his business, he will continue to be illiterate and consumed by his job.
Emma goes on to suggest that Mr. Elton is superior to both Mr. Knightley and Mr. Weston in terms of his manners. He is a gentle man. Mr. Weston is too blunt, and Mr. Knightley is too commanding. Mr. Elton, on the other hand, has a great sense of humour and is cheerful. Emma thinks he has become softer since Harriet joined their group of friends, and she suggests it might be for Harriet’s sake. Emma repeated some praise Mr. Elton had for Harriet the other day which made Harriet blush. Emma’s plan was to use Mr. Elton to drive Mr. Martin out of Harriet’s head, and she thought it would be a great match. He was a good man, with property and a small income. Emma was sure Mr. Elton thought Harriet was a beautiful girl—he had even made more frequent visits to Hartfield lately, which was enough evidence for her.
Mr. Knightley confided in Mrs. Weston that he thought Emma and Harriet’s friendship was a bad thing as neither will do the other good. Mrs. Weston thinks it is good that Emma has a new interest and thinks their friendship is a lovely one. She suggests that they will have an argument about it. Mr. Knightley believes it is only because Mr. Weston is out of the house that he has started the argument because it means Mrs. Weston has to defend herself, but she assures him Mr. Weston feels the exact same way she does about the friendship. She suggests that Mr. Knightley is too used to living and spending time by himself, so he does not know the value of a friendship. She also suggests he might not be able to understand because he is a man—women need friends of the same sex. And, if Emma wants to educate Harriet, then she will read more.
Mr. Knightley reminds Mrs. Weston that Emma had been meaning to read more since she was twelve. She had even made thorough lists of books to read in alphabetical order, but never actually completed them. Mr. Knightley doesn’t believe that Emma will ever submit herself to any task that requires her to work hard and be patient while doing it. Mrs. Weston could not get Emma to read, and neither will Harriet. Mr. Knightley believes Emma has been spoiled by her family—her sister, Isabella, could not always answer the questions that Emma could, and now she believes she is far more intelligent than she is. He does not think Mrs. Weston did a good job establishing herself as Emma’s superior when she was her governess, and so Emma has been in charge of herself from an early age. While Mrs. Weston failed to educate Emma, Emma was educating her on how to be a good wife. Mr. Knightley thinks Mrs. Weston is a far better wife than a governess as a result. Mr. Knightley is afraid that Harriet will continue to fawn over Emma and compliment her at every chance. Emma will learn nothing from this, but believe she is far superior. Harriet will also believe that she is of a higher status in society than she actually is, as well.
Mrs. Weston compliments Emma on the way she looks and entices Mr. Knightley to admit the same. He does not think Emma is vain when it comes to her physical appearance. She is, however, vain about her intelligence. He reminds Mrs. Weston that he will not be persuaded that her friendship with Harriet is a good thing. Mrs. Weston will not budge from her attitude either: Emma will do well in this friendship. Mr. Knightley agrees not to say anything until Isabella and her husband, John, arrive at Christmas. He is sure that they will agree with him. Mrs. Weston gives Mr. Knightley some advice: he should be wary of mentioning his worries about Harriet to Isabella and John. They might be upset about the possible consequences and turn it into a larger, more dramatic conversation. Mr. Knightley agrees to keep his concerns to himself, even if he is concerned about Emma’s future and what she will become. Emma has declared she will never marry, but Mr. Knightley has never seen or heard of any man she cared about. He would like to see her in love with someone as it would do her some good. Mrs. Weston believes it would be difficult for her to fall in love and marry while her father relies on her. Although she did not mention it, there were particular hopes between Mrs. Weston and Mr. Weston about Emma’s future.
Emma was pleased that Harriet’s attitude towards Mr. Elton was decidedly more positive. She also believed that Mr. Elton was in love with Harriet. He talked about and complimented her often that there was no doubt in her mind. Mr. Elton was pleased that Emma had turned her into a far superior woman than she was when she first came to Hartfield. Emma insisted her job was only to tease the good traits Harriet already had.
One day, Emma wonders if Harriet has ever sat and had her picture painted. She has not. After Harriet leaves the room, Emma suggests to Mr. Elton that her portrait would be a lovely one. She used to paint portraits, and her friends thought she was quite good at it. If Harriet would sit with her, she would paint her picture. Mr. Elton seconds this wish. He has noticed quite a few paintings around Hartfield and at Randalls that Emma has painted. Emma did not know why Mr. Elton was so fascinated with her painting, and thought to herself that he should keep his compliments for Harriet. Mr. Elton urges her to try, but Emma is unsure Harriet will agree to it. She thinks so little of her beauty. Mr. Elton thinks it would be quite easy to persuade her.
Harriet returned and, under pressure from both of them, she sat and looked through Emma’s portfolio to decide what size of portrait should be created. Emma had worked with every kind of material—paints, pencil and crayon—but, as with everything she did, she did not focus hard enough on mastering art. Emma knew that her reputation for her accomplishments was much higher than her actual ability, but she did not care that others had the wrong idea. Harriet and Mr. Elton thought the paintings were wonderful. Emma looked through all of them, telling her two friends about the subjects, and the condition in which she painted them. Emma finally came to her painting of Mr. John Knightley, Isabella’s husband, which had caused some trouble between Emma and Isabella. She thought Emma had not done her husband justice in the painting, and so Emma decided not to paint any one ever again. However, as there are no husbands and wives involved in the painting of Harriet, Emma will paint her. Mr. Elton suggested that there might be husbands and wives in the future, which led Emma to wonder if she should just leave them by themselves.
Emma began the painting. Harriet sat still, blushing, while Mr. Elton watched Emma’s every move. Eventually, it was suggested that Mr. Elton should read to them while Emma painted in peace. He continued to come up to the painting every time she made progress and express his love for it. With the first day of sitting for the painting over, Emma was pleased with it enough to want to continue the following day with Mr. Elton watching. He defended the painting to everyone who criticized it. Mrs. Weston thought Emma had given Harriet too much beauty. Mr. Knightley believed Harriet was too tall in the painting. Mr. Elton defended the painting against both of these criticisms—he thought the painting was accurate. Mr. Woodhouse suggested that Harriet should not have been painted sitting outside. He thought it looked like she would catch a cold. Emma pointed out that she painted Harriet in the middle of a warm day in summer.
The next task was to get the painting framed. It had to be done in London, and it had to be done by someone with taste. Whereas Isabella would usually be asked to help, it was now December and her father did not want her to be out of the house in December fog. Mr. Elton offered to ride to London and was grateful that he could carry out the task. Emma observed Mr. Elton as he took the painting from her, and thought he was in love with Harriet. He sighed when he took the painting, and had many compliments for Harriet. He had compliments for Emma, too, but not as many as he had for Harriet.
The day that Mr. Elton went to London, Harriet was at Hartfield and announced that something exciting had happened to her. She had returned to Mrs. Goddard’s house and discovered that Mr. Martin had been there an hour before then. Once he found out that Harriet was not at home, he left a parcel for her and went away again. The parcel contained a letter to Harriet asking her to marry him. She did not know what to do—the letter was well written, and it was clear that Mr. Martin was in love with her. However, knowing she was still quite naive, she had her doubts and wanted Emma’s opinion on it. Emma read the letter and was surprised to find that it was quite a well written one, almost as if a gentleman had written it. Harriet stood by anxiously while Emma read and wanted to know if it was a good letter. Emma admits it is a well written letter and concludes that one of his sisters must have helped him. She cannot believe that the man they met with the other day could be capable of writing a letter like this. Emma then changes her mind: she does not see the influence of a woman’s hand in the letter as the writing is too strong. He might be a man who is better at expressing himself on paper. Emma returns the letter, and Harriet asks what she should do. Emma tells her she must answer, but Harriet does not know what to say. While Emma wants the letter to come from Harriet’s head, Emma suggests that the combination of gratitude and sorrow for causing him pain should be added. Harriet understands then that Emma thinks the marriage is a bad idea. Emma is surprised that this was even up for debate—she has misunderstood Harriet. She only thought Harriet wanted her opinions on the wording of the letter. If Harriet means to accept Mr. Martin, Emma will not get involved. She has to decide how she feels for herself.
Emma adds that if Harriet is reluctant to immediately agree to the marriage, then she should say no, but she doesn’t want to influence Harriet at all. Harriet struggles for a moment, and then states it might be safer for her to refuse Mr. Martin. Emma will not advise her either way, but if she prefers Mr. Martin more than anyone else she knows, she should accept. Harriet blushes, and Emma pushes for an answer. She wonders if Harriet likes anyone better than Mr. Martin. Harriet remains quiet and then tells Emma that she has come to her own decision to refuse Mr. Martin. Emma is pleased with this decision as she would not have been able to visit or stay friends with Harriet if she married a farmer. Harriet is suddenly struck with realization—she did not know Emma would have refused to see her. Now that she knows this, she will definitely not marry Mr. Martin.
Emma advised Harriet to write her reply right away so that Emma could help her. Even though Emma protested to helping Harriet at all, she ended up helping with the construction of every sentence and read it through to make sure that no one would think Harriet was ungrateful. The letter was sent, and Harriet was quite sad for the rest of the day. Emma suggested that Mr. Elton would visit soon, which made her a little happier. Harriet was afraid of what Mrs. Goddard and Miss Nash might say about Harriet’s refusal, as a farmer to them was quite a high match in marriage. Emma reminded Harriet that they both know of another, far superior man who has been paying her attention, and neither Mrs. Goddard or Miss Nash would have any idea about his feelings.
Harriet is sad when she thinks about Mr. Martin reading the letter, and wonders what he and his family might be doing right then. Emma reminds Harriet of Mr. Elton, who will most likely have her painting with him that moment and be showing it to his family as an introduction. Harriet smiled at this thought.
Harriet slept at Hartfield that night, and was due to return to Hartfield for a few more days after a visit to Mrs. Goddard’s for a few hours. Once she was gone, Mr. Knightley visited. Mr. Woodhouse had been about to go for a little walk, and had put it off to talk with Emma and Mr. Knightley, but Emma encourages Mr. Woodhouse to go and take his walk. Mr. Woodhouse gives his apologies and points out that Emma is more than enough entertainment for Mr. Knightley. Mr. Knightley suggests that he is about to leave anyway, but sits back down again when Mr. Woodhouse leaves for his walk.
Mr. Knightley can see that Emma wants to be complimented, so gives her one for her influence on Harriet. She has done well. Mr. Knightley wonders when Harriet is due back at Hartfield. Emma thinks she should already be back, and Mr. Knightley suggests she may have been stopped by some visitors. Mr. Knightley suggests that Harriet will hear of some good news soon—of someone in love with her. Emma pushes for the name, hoping that Mr. Elton has confided in Mr. Knightley. Mr. Knightley reveals that it is Mr. Martin who is in love with her. He came to Mr. Knightley for advice two nights ago, and Mr. Knightley approved the match wholeheartedly. It is likely that Mr. Martin has visited Mrs. Goddard’s, which has kept Harriet from coming back to Hartfield on time. Emma asks Mr. Knightley what makes him so sure Mr. Martin hasn’t asked yet, and then reveals he has already asked and been refused. Mr. Knightley is shocked by this news. Harriet is more of a fool than he thought. Emma notes that it is usually for a man to understand why a woman denies an offer of marriage—most men assume a woman should accept anyone who asks her. Emma assures Mr. Knightley that she saw the answer Harriet gave and that it was a false one. Mr. Knightley knows then that Emma wrote the letter herself and persuaded her to refuse him. Emma does not think she would have done wrong had she done so. He is not Harriet’s equal. Mr. Knightley is astonished: Harriet has no claims to her birthright, and Mr. Martin is more her superior than she is his. Mr. Knightley’s only issue with the match was that the girl would be below him in status, and felt that Mr. Martin could have done much better considering the fortune he had. He thought even Emma would approve of the match. Emma does not think he actually knows her if he thought that. Harriet should not be kept down because of the people she has lived with and there is no doubt of her being a gentleman’s daughter. Mr. Knightley doesn’t care who her parents were—she does not belong to good society. He accuses Emma of giving Harriet her sense of superiority as she had no issues with the Martins before then. Emma believes Harriet is a beautiful enough girl that gentlemen will take an interest in her. Harriet has more than enough time to consider her choices and see what comes toward her.
Mr. Knightley is afraid for the influence their friendship is having on Harriet. It is a foolish thing to raise someone’s expectations. Men do not want to connect themselves with women who have an obscure past, no matter how beautiful they are. If Harriet continues to expect gentlemen to ask them to marry her, she will end up an old widow still living with Mrs. Goddard. Emma does not approve of Mr. Martin’s manners, but Mr. Knightley assures her that he is a true gentleman. Emma tried her best to not show she was affected by the conversation, but because she cared so much about Mr. Knightley’s judgement, she felt uncomfortable. The conversation descended into silence. Mr. Knightley finally spoke. He told Emma he knows about her plans for Harriet and that if Mr. Elton is Emma’s chosen match, all of her work will be for nothing. Mr. Elton knows the value of a good match in marriage and will act accordingly. He also knows his own value and has many ladies in his immediate society who spend time with his sisters. Most of them have fortunes of their own. Emma insists that she only wants to keep Harriet to herself at this time and had no plans to match her up with Mr. Elton. Mr. Knightley stood up and left, feeling guilty for pushing Mr. Martin to propose to Harriet.
Whereas Mr. Knightley thought that his opinions were correct, Emma did not have the same sense. She looked forward to Harriet returning, but was also afraid because she was taking so long. She feared the possibility of Mr. Martin begging Harriet to accept her and what Harriet might do. Emma did not want to fail after all of her effort. Harriet turned up, however, with no reason for her delay.
Emma was a little afraid that she had been incorrect about Mr. Elton’s feelings but decided Mr. Knightley couldn’t possibly know how he felt because he had not seen him around Harriet. Mr. Knightley did not see the passion Mr. Elton had shown Harriet. Harriet had some good news about Mr. Elton, who had spoken with an acquaintance. Mr. Elton was already on his way to London and would not return until the next day, even though he would miss a game night he had never missed before. When Mr. Elton had been asked not to miss the night, he refused. He was determined and had business that he could not put off. The acquaintance, Mr. Perry, assumed that a lady was involved as Mr. Elton had looked happy. It was generally agreed that whoever Mr. Elton liked was a lucky lady.
Mr. Knightley took a longer time to return to Hartfield than it usually took him. When he met with Emma, she could tell that she was not forgiven just yet. Although she was sorry for it, she did not regret her actions. In fact, it looked like her plan was doing well and would do even better over the next few days. The painting had returned and was hung up over the mantle piece of the sitting room. Mr. Elton had sighed at it and spoken words of admiration. Harriet was falling more in love with Mr. Elton every day and Emma was satisfied that Mr. Martin had left her thoughts.
Emma’s attempts to improve Harriet’s mind had never really gone beyond a few chapters of reading as they much preferred to talk than to study. Sober facts were more boring to them than the fantasy of what Harriet’s future could be. The only real mental exercise they accomplished was the collection of riddles into a large collection. Mr. Woodhouse helped them by trying to remember riddles he had known as a boy. But Emma didn’t truly want her father’s help—it was Mr. Elton’s help she most wanted and asked for. The puzzles and riddles he gave them to write down were polite and sentimental ones. One of them, they were afraid to admit, they had already written down a few pages before. Emma asked Mr. Elton to write his own riddle for them to prevent writing the same ones down, but Mr. Elton protested—he had never seriously written anything before.
The next day, however, he returned to Hartfield for a short amount of time to give them a riddle his friend had addressed to a young lady he admired. Emma immediately assumed it was Mr. Elton who had written it instead. He did not want it to go into Harriet’s collection, but thought it might be a fun one for them to look over. While Harriet didn’t seem to understand, Emma knew that Mr. Elton was hinting at a deeper meaning. He could barely even look Harriet’s way and instead looked into Emma’s eyes instead. Mr. Elton left them alone. Emma pushed the piece of paper to Harriet and insisted it was hers, but Harriet was afraid to look at it. Emma read it instead a few times and then passed it to Harriet. Emma knows the answer to the riddle. It is “courtship”. She compliments Mr. Elton on a well written hint asking Harriet to approve his intentions and share her own feelings. Emma is delighted that the riddle reveals he is in love with Harriet and wishes Mr. Knightley could read the riddle himself. Harriet, still reading the riddle, cannot figure out what the answer is. She wonders if the answer is mermaids or sharks. Emma is surprised Harriet has not worked it out. She explains that the first lines lead to “courtship” and that the rest compliments Harriet. Emma assures her that Mr. Elton will make his intentions and feelings clear to her soon. She congratulates Harriet on the match. It will establish her in society, and they will never not be friends. Although Harriet cannot speak for a moment or two, she agrees with Emma. Emma is always right, so Mr. Elton must be in love with her even though Harriet did not think it would be possible. She wouldn’t have been able to work out the riddle without Emma’s help. Harriet compares Mr. Martin’s letter to Mr. Elton’s riddle: she believes that the effort Mr. Elton put into his writing is far more worthy than the common good sense in Mr. Martin’s letter. Emma is overjoyed to hear her rejection of the letter. Harriet wonders what she will do. Emma tells Harriet to leave it to her—she will give it back to him that night, and Harriet will not be committed to him. She will hint at her feelings on another day. Harriet wants to write the riddle in the book. She can, but Emma advises her against writing the last two lines and keeping them for her own private enjoyment. Emma even writes the riddle in the book herself to avoid Harriet being suspected. Emma sees her father coming and decides to read the riddle to him, but Harriet is not so sure. Emma advises her not to betray her feelings and to not be secretive. Mr. Elton was not secretive enough to hand the riddle to Harriet while Emma was not present, so they don’t need to worry that much.
Mr. Woodhouse comes back into the room, and Emma reveals they have a new riddle for him to read. Emma reads it for him three times and explains each section. Mr. Woodhouse was pleased, as ever, by the compliments toward women. He believes that only Emma could have written such a pretty riddle. Instead of correcting him, Emma smiles. Mr. Woodhouse remembers how clever her mother was and wishes that he had her memory. He recites the first stanza of a riddle he remembers, but cannot remember the entire thing.
Isabella’s visit is then discussed. Mr. Woodhouse and Emma go over room arrangements. Mr. Woodhouse is sad that they cannot stay for longer, but Emma reminds him that they could have spent the entire time away from Hartfield if Mr. Knightley had demanded his brother spend all of Christmas with him instead. Mr. Woodhouse will still try and persuade Isabella to stay for longer, but Emma reminds him that she will not go anywhere without her husband. When Emma sees how much this has upset her father, she changes the subject. She points out that Harriet will be able to stay with them for as long as she wants and that Isabella’s children will love her. They discuss Isabella’s two children, Henry and John, who they think are quite clever. Henry once asked for a knife which led Mr. Woodhouse to think his father treats him roughly. Emma suggests he only thinks this because he is so gentle. Their father wants them to be hardy and active men, but he is an affectionate father. Mr. Woodhouse cannot understand it, but Emma reminds him that this is the way the world is: you cannot always understand the things other people like.
Later on that day, Mr. Elton arrived. Harriet turned away, but Emma smiled at him. He wondered if he was needed that evening at dinner as he had been pushed to promise his friend he would have dinner with him instead. Emma did not want him to disappoint his friend. Before he could leave, Emma gave him the piece of paper with the riddle on it. She admitted that they copied into Harriet’s collection but that they did not go past the first eight lines. Mr. Elton looked confused for a moment, looked between the two ladies, and then examined the book. Emma asked Mr. Elton to give his friend their apologies for copying it, but they could not pass up writing such a fantastic riddle down. Mr. Elton does not doubt that his friend would consider it a proud moment. Mr. Elton left soon after, leaving a pleased Harriet in his wake.
Although it was in the middle of December, the weather had been good enough to allow the ladies to walk. Emma had a charitable visit to pay to a poor and sickly family who lived just outside of Highbury. The way to this house led them close to Mr. Elton’s home. Emma suggested that Harriet and her riddle book would soon be living in this house. Harriet loved the house. Although Emma did not visit this area often, she was sure she would have the need to once Harriet and Mr. Elton were married. She wished they could go in, but there was no excuse she could think of to allow them to visit. Harriet wonders why Emma was not going to marry anyone. Emma admits that she is charming, but to marry she must find someone else charming. She has no intention to marry. Harriet cannot believe it—she thinks it is odd for a woman to talk like Emma does. Emma has never been in love, and she does not need a fortune. She will never be like Miss Bates, an old maid; she will simply be unmarried. A single woman of good fortune is respectable.
Harriet wonders what Emma will do with herself when she is older. Emma will continue to study as she has been, and will spend time with the family she has. Harriet wonders if Emma has met Miss Bates’ niece, Jane Fairfax. Emma has. She is sick of having to spend time with her every time she comes to Highbury, and when she is not at Highbury every letter she has sent is read over and over for a month. It is boring to Emma.
Her worries disappeared once she reached the cottage. Emma was sympathetic and gave as much help as she could. As they left, Emma commented that her own worries seem small by comparison. As they walked down the lane, Mr. Elton came in the other direction. Mr. Elton was about to visit the same family, but hearing the two ladies had just come from the house decided to delay his own visit. They discussed what they could do for the family, and Emma was pleased that Mr. Elton would see Harriet’s charitable side. She wished she was not with them as the proposal could have come right then and there. Emma attempted to separate herself from them by walking on a narrow footpath just above the main road, leaving Harriet and Mr. Elton by themselves. However, because Harriet was dependent on Emma, she started to join Emma, and that would bring Mr. Elton up to the path, as well. Emma stopped, pretending to need to tie her laces up and begged them to continue walking. They did. Emma waited as long as she reasonably could. Thankfully, a child came up the road which gave Emma someone to talk as she walked. Although she tried to keep their pace slow to give Harriet and Mr. Elton time to talk, they still caught up with the couple. They appeared to be talking about something quite passionate, and Emma was upset to find Mr. Elton was talking about a dinner he had the previous night. Emma thought that this line of conversation might have led to the proposal, and was sad to have caught up with them so quickly.
When they reached the vicarage, Emma stopped again and pulled her lace off her boot and threw it into the ditch. She asked them if they could stop at Mr. Elton’s home to borrow something to tie her boot with. Mr. Elton was happy to welcome them to his house. While Mr. Elton and Harriet waited, Emma kept the housekeeper in conversation for ten minutes to stay away and give them a chance. She found them standing at the window, like lovers, but he had not hinted at or asked anything important. Emma convinces herself that Mr. Elton is acting cautiously. Despite the disappointment, she assured herself that they were building toward the proposal.
Emma decided that Mr. Elton had to come to his own conclusions now as her sister was about to visit, and there would be no more opportunities to push for the proposal. However, she did not wish for more time with the couple as she wanted them to start thinking and acting for themselves. It had been a long time since Isabella, John and the rest of the family had visited Hartfield, so this visit was made extra special. Although Mr. Woodhouse was worried about the journey they had to take, however small, the family arrived without any problems. Isabella was sympathetic to her father, whose nerves were slightly frayed due to the children and the noise of so many people arriving at the house, and made sure that the children did not disturb him.
Isabella was an elegant woman with gentle, affectionate ways. She was a true family person and could never see flaws or faults in any of them. Although she did not inherit her mother’s intelligence, she did inherit her father’s worries and delicate health. Mr. John Knightley was a clever and respectable man with reserved manners. Occasionally, he would say something out of line which Emma always caught, and Isabella never did. He was not one of Emma’s favourite people. After the initial welcome, they sat down to discuss the changes at Hartfield, including the loss of Miss Taylor/Mrs. Weston. Mr. Woodhouse worried that Randalls was not good for her, and wished that he would see her more often. Emma corrected her father, pointing out that they have only missed seeing them one day since they were married and that he shouldn’t give them the wrong impression.
The conversation then turns to talk of Frank Churchill. While there was speculation that he might visit soon after the marriage, this came to nothing, and he has not been mentioned since. Mr. Woodhouse tells them about the letter Mrs. Weston received. Isabella does not know how a father and child could be separated. Mr. John Knightley does not think much of the Churchills. He suggests that Mr. Weston does not have strong feelings, and those that he does have concern his own enjoyment. Emma did not like this impression of Mr. Weston but struggled against saying anything to keep the peace.
Mr. Knightley came to dinner that night despite Mr. Woodhouse wanting to keep Isabella for himself. Emma knew that Mr. Knightley had every right to attend, however, and wanted him to be there so that they could be friends once again. Emma had not been in the wrong, and Mr. Knightley would never admit that he had been, so they would have to pretend to forget they were arguing. When he came into the room, Emma had one of the children in her arms, which helped Mr. Knightley’s mood turn from grave to his normal mood. Emma was delighted that they were friends again. She felt confident enough to comment that although they often disagree, they never disagree about their nieces and nephews. Mr. Knightley suggests they wouldn’t disagree about the nature of men and women if she was as reasonable as she was with the children. Emma points out that she seems to be in the wrong every time. Mr. Knightley agrees: he was sixteen when she was born, after all. Emma suggests that now she is older, their understanding of the world should be nearer. He agrees, but adds that he has the advantage of sixteen years over her still, and of being a man. Mr. Knightley asks her not to look back over their past disagreements and to move on. Emma asks one more thing before they move onto another conversation: she wonders if Mr. Martin is disappointed by Harriet’s refusal. Mr. Martin could not be more disappointed. Emma is sorry for that but shakes Mr. Knightley’s hand so they can be friends once again.
The dinner was a quiet one, with two groups of people in conversation: Mr. Woodhouse and Isabella on one side, and the two Knightley brothers on the other. Emma occasionally joined either conversation. The men talked about business, while Mr. Woodhouse begged Isabella to have some gruel. Although he asked the others to have some as well, they declined, which did not make Mr. Woodhouse happy. After a moment, he complained about Isabella visiting the sea during the Autumn instead of coming to Hartfield. He did not approve of the sea air and was sure that it had almost killed him once. Isabella, as attached to her doctor, Mr. Wingfield, as Mr. Woodhouse was attached to his own Mr. Perry, insisted that the sea air was recommended for the children specifically. Emma begs them to not talk about the sea because she has never been able to visit. They talk for a little about Mr. Perry and his family, and it is suggested that Isabella’s young daughter, Bella, should have her throat looked at, but Isabella is not worried about it anymore—the sea air did it good. Before Mr. Woodhouse can continue on, Emma changes the subject to the Bates family. Isabella will visit them the next day and hopes they are well. Mr. Woodhouse tells her Mrs. Bates had a cold a month before, which changes the subject back to health. Mr. Woodhouse is upset that Isabella has to live in London as it is a unhealthy place. Isabella insists that they live in the healthier part of London, and there is nothing to worry about. Mr. Woodhouse does not think it compares to Hartfield, and after a week of visiting, the family will all look different. He does not think Isabella looks well at all. Isabella insists that they are all looked after by Mr. Wingfield and are in good health. Mr. Woodhouse suggests that Mr. John Knightley looks unwell, which frightens Isabella. Mr. John Knightley tells her not to worry about anything.
Emma turned to the Knightley brothers to escape talking about health and sicknesses and found that on returning to her father and sister, they were talking about Jane Fairfax. Isabella complimented Jane and wished that Emma could see her more often. Mr. Woodhouse suggests that Emma could not have a better friend than Harriet, but Isabella does not know of anyone as accomplished as Jane.
After the gruel was eaten, the conversation turned once more to Mr. Woodhouse’s regret that Isabella had gone to South End. Mr. Perry had told him South End was an unhealthy place to go. Isabella insists that it was a healthy place to visit. Mr. Woodhouse suggested visiting Cromer, but Isabella thinks it is too far to go. He tells his daughter that Mr. Perry agreed with his opinion: they should have travelled further for their health. Mr. John Knightley stepped in then and told Mr. Woodhouse that Mr. Perry should keep his business to himself. He suggests that if Mr. Perry knows how to travel 130 miles with a wife and five children at no more expense than it takes to travel 40, then he might listen to Mr. Perry’s opinions. Mr. Knightley agrees and changes the subject quickly to planning for a pathway. They make plans to look over it the following morning.
Mr. Woodhouse was quite upset that his good friend, Mr. Perry, had been insulted, but Emma and Isabella managed to pull him into a better mood.
Isabella was happy to visit her old friends with her five children in tow and have her father and sister to talk over the day with when she returned. They did not usually visit friends in the evening, but they could not avoid going to the Randalls to have dinner with the Weston family. Mr. Woodhouse could not even worry about how to get there as they had enough carriages to make room for everyone, including Harriet. The night before the dinner, Harriet had gone home with a cold. Emma visited her the following day and found Harriet was feverish and had a sore throat. She would not be able to go to the dinner party that night. Emma sat with Harriet while Mrs. Goddard ran her errands for as long as she could, and tried to make Harriet happier by reminding her Mr. Elton would be upset and missing her. When Emma left Mrs. Goddard’s she bumped into Mr. Elton. They talked for a moment about Harriet. Mr. John Knightley returned from his small visit to Donwell with his two older boys, and they all walked together. After Emma told them how Harriet was, Mr. Elton was surprised Emma sat with her. He worried that Harriet was infectious and that Emma had risked herself by sitting with her. Emma was not worried before, but now she was concerned about going to the Weston’s that night. It looked like it might snow. While she would not be able to persuade her father not to go, Mr. Elton seemed like he was getting sick and should stay at home. Although Mr. Elton clearly wanted to go to the dinner party, he had no choice but to agree to stay home. Emma was pleased—it meant he could ask after Harriet for the rest of the evening. However, Mr. John Knightley offered Mr. Elton a seat in his carriage, and so Mr. Elton was to attend the dinner party after all. He looked happy. Emma did not understand why Mr. Elton would be so pleased to go to Randalls when Harriet was so sick, but explained it away as one of the things single men do. They like to go to dinner parties and cannot refuse invitations. Mr. Elton left them then to go and visit Harriet, and Emma was pleased that he sounded sentimental when he said her name.
Mr. John Knightley admitted he had never met a man so intent on pleasing ladies in his company. He suggests that Mr. Elton is in love with Emma, and that Emma has been encouraging him. Emma insists that he is mistaken—they are friends and nothing else.
That night, Mr. Woodhouse could not be persuaded to stay home. He was determined to go and set off with Isabella in their own carriage. It was cold, and the snow started to fall by the time the second carriage started off toward Randalls. Mr. John Knightley, Emma’s companion in the carriage, was not in a good mood. He did not want to go all the way to the Weston’s house in the snow and complained the entire way to the Vicarage to collect Mr. Elton. He did not understand why other people could insist that their friends come to dinner while it is snowing and they could be warm at home. Emma could not agree, nor disagree and so said nothing.
Mr. Elton was immensely happy when he stepped into the carriage, and Emma was surprised considering Harriet was not better. She wondered if he had received a different report from Mrs. Goddard. Emma told him she was sorry Harriet would not be with them, which Mr. Elton agreed with. She was satisfied with his reply, but upset when he changed the subject moments later to express his admiration for sheep-skin carriages and the Christmas-like weather. He tells them about the time he was snowed in at a friend’s house for a week. Mr. John Knightley states he will not be snowed in for a week at Randalls. While Emma would normally be amused by the conversation, she did not understand Mr. Elton’s joyful mood. He seemed to have forgotten Harriet. Mr. Elton is looking forward to many things at dinner, but Mr. John Knightley is only looking forward to being back at Hartfield.
Both Mr. Elton and Mr. John Knightley had to alter their attitudes slightly when they went into Mrs. Weston’s drawing room. Emma was honestly happy to be with the Westons, whom she spoke with without reserve and always found the conversation intelligent and interesting. Emma was determined to not think of Mr. Elton’s odd behaviour and spend time with Mrs. Weston. When Emma looked around her, she was upset to find that Mr. Elton was sat next to her. This made it difficult not to think about his odd behaviour or to suspect that Mr. John Knightley might be right about his feelings for Emma. Emma could not be rude, but Mr. Elton spoke at length and gave compliments for every facet of Emma’s life—her drawings, her father, Mrs. Weston. Emma could hear small sections of the conversation going on with Mr. Weston and knew they were talking about Frank Churchill, but as soon as she could keep Mr. Elton quiet, the conversation was done again.
Frank Churchill had always interested Emma, even though she was determined to never marry. She had thought to herself that if she was going to marry someone, she could marry Frank. He seemed suited to her in age and personality. She believed that the Weston’s thought of Emma and Frank as a possible match, and this made her even more anxious to see him face to face. When they sat down to dinner, Emma escaped Mr. Elton and was sat by Mr. Weston. He tells her that they are expecting Frank to visit in the next two weeks, and would like to add him and Harriet to their group of companions. In a letter, Frank wrote that he had wanted to visit sooner, but did not have control over his own schedule. Emma is pleased by this. Mr. Weston confides in Emma that Frank will only be able to come if some friends delay their visit to Enscombe. He thinks they will delay because Mrs. Churchill at Enscombe dislikes them—they still have to invite them out of politeness once every two or three years, but they always delay. Emma agrees with Mr. Weston’s belief that Frank will be able to come.
After dinner, Emma discusses Frank’s visit with Mrs. Weston, who does not believe he will come and worries about the regret it will cause. Mrs. Weston admits to Isabella and Emma that Mrs. Churchill is a bad tempered woman who rules over Frank’s schedule. She has to agree for him to come for him to be able to visit. Isabella knows Mrs. Churchill and is sorry that Frank has to deal with her. Isabella thinks it is a blessing that she never had any children. Mr. Woodhouse joined them, then, and while he was talking to Isabella, Emma found a moment to state that she thought the first visit between Mrs. Weston and Frank would be an unpleasant one, but that it must be done. Mrs. Weston admits that the Churchills always seem to be jealous of anyone else who manages to spend time with Frank. Emma cannot believe that a young man does not have control over where he visits, especially to his own father. Mrs. Weston corrects Emma: she does not know what life at Enscombe is, and so she should not judge Frank in the same way she judges other men. Emma states she will not be satisfied unless Frank comes. Mrs. Weston reminds her she cannot control someone with a bad temper—Frank will come if he is allowed to do so.
After Mr. Woodhouse had drunk his tea, he was ready to go home. The women distracted him from this need until the other three men joined them in the drawing room. Mr. Elton, without asking, sat between Mrs. Weston and Emma. Emma was willing to forgive him for this because she was in such a good mood, and because Mr. Elton’s first subject was Harriet. He stated he was nervous for Harriet and wondered if Emma had heard anything since they had arrived at Randalls. However, the conversation seemed to turn in an odd direction. Mr. Elton was more concerned for Emma’s health and the possibility of her having a sore throat, than he was worried about Harriet. He begged Emma not to visit Harriet again until he had Mr. Perry’s opinion. Emma tried to change the subject, but there was no way to stop Mr. Elton expressing his worries. Emma realized then that he was in love with her instead of Harriet. When Mr. Elton asks for Mrs. Weston’s help in persuading Emma to think of herself before others, Mrs. Weston is too surprised to say anything. Mr. Elton moves seats to talk to Isabella.
Mr. John Knightley came back into the room and told them all that the ground was covered in snow, and that it was still snowing hard. Mr. Woodhouse was quiet because he was worried, but they assured him they would get back to Hartfield safely before midnight. Mr. Weston admitted he knew it had been snowing for some time, but didn’t want to tell anyone and have them all leave so early. He also wanted to keep them at Randalls over the night, but Mrs. Weston did not agree—they only had two spare rooms! Mr. Woodhouse looked to Emma for a decision as to what to do. Isabella was afraid of being separated from her children for so long and decided that she and her husband would leave immediately for Hartfield. She would not even mind having to walk half the way. Emma did not want to be left behind at Randalls. Mr. Knightley returned to announce that they could all get home safely—there was not much snow on the ground, and only a few flakes were falling from the sky. He had already sent for the carriages. Isabella was relieved, but Mr. Woodhouse wanted to leave immediately. Emma and Mr. Knightley exchanged a few brief words to establish that they would leave then and there for her father’s sake.
Mr. Woodhouse was helped by Mr. Knightley and Mr. Weston. Isabella joined Mr. Woodhouse in the carriage, and Mr. John Knightley—forgetting that he belonged in the other carriage—stepped in behind her. Emma found herself alone with Mr. Elton in the second carriage. Previous to this particular day, Emma would not have minded, but now the moment was awkward. Emma decided to talk about the weather, but had her hand taken by Mr. Elton. He declared his love for Emma and feared he would die if she refused him. He wanted the engagement to be decided on right away. Emma tried to stop him, thinking he was drunk, but he would not listen to her. Finally, Emma expressed her astonishment that he would be speaking to her like this and not to Harriet. Mr. Elton does not know what she means. Emma tells him to say nothing else, and she will try to forget it. Emma could not believe that after a month of paying Harriet attention that he would turn and announce his love for her. Mr. Elton reveals he never thought of Harriet as anything else but his friend. He is sorry, but he has only ever thought of her—he could never think of Harriet while Emma was close by. He is sure that Emma understands him. Emma did not know what to say and remained quiet. Mr. Elton took her hand and decided her silence means she must have understood him. Emma denies it—she admits she thought Harriet was the object of his affection. She was pleased he was pursuing Harriet. Mr. Elton hopes that she will be married well, but not to him—she would not be an equal alliance for him. He visited Hartfield because of Emma, and because of the encouragement she was giving him. Emma corrects him—the encouragement was only to ensure his marriage to Harriet. Emma does not want to marry. Mr. Elton was angry and spent the rest of the carriage ride in silence. He did not say another word and left Emma alone once they reached the Vicarage.
Emma arrived at Hartfield to find her father worried about her taking a solitary carriage ride. Mr. John Knightley was now in a very kind mood—so kind that he saw to Mr. Woodhouse’s needs and made sure he was comfortable. Despite this peaceful scene, Emma was seriously troubled.
Now alone in her room, Emma sat down to think. She was upset that Mr. Elton had been such a disappointment to her, and that Harriet would be so upset. She was humiliated and ashamed that she had persuaded Harriet that he liked her. She did not know how she could have been so confused, and so looked back at their past interactions. He had seemed eager about the painting, and had written the riddle which pointed to Harriet. She had thought Mr. Elton’s behaviour towards her had changed lately, but she had only explained it as respect for Harriet’s friend. She was grateful that Mr. John Knightley had first suggested it—both Knightley brothers seemed to have an ability to know exactly what was going on. Mr. Knightley had known who Mr. Elton really was, and Emma was ashamed to remember how wrong she had been.
Emma liked Mr. Elton less because of his attraction to her and was insulted that he had hopes they would marry. She thought he was only pretending to be in love with her to make a good match in marriage and did not think he would be that disappointed by her refusal. She believed he would try for someone else with a fortune in enough time. Emma was upset, however, by Mr. Elton’s belief she had encouraged him and knew how he felt. She thought he might not know how inferior he was to her in terms of family and fortune. The Eltons were nobodies compared to the Woodhouses. Emma admitted to herself that her own attention to him would have made a man like Mr. Elton think he was favoured by her. She should not have talked Harriet into being attached to Mr. Elton and given her hope. She was sorry that she was so excited to have persuaded Harriet out of marrying Mr. Martin because it led her to more ambitious tasks. She should have stopped there and done no more.
Emma thought about what she would have to do: she would have to explain to Harriet, and help her thorough all the suffering—that is, if Harriet did not break off their friendship because of the awkwardness of their situation. Emma woke up the next morning even more aware of her mistakes, but ready to start fixing them. She was pleased, however, that only the three of them would ever know what was going on. She did not have to go to Church that day because of the snow on the ground, which meant she did not have to talk to anyone outside of her immediate family. The rest of Isabella’s visit was wonderful and peaceful, but Emma still felt uncomfortable over her upcoming explanations to Harriet.
Isabella and Mr. John Knightley were able to leave Hartfield soon enough despite the weather, and despite Mr. Woodhouse’s attempts to persuade Isabella to stay behind. The family left, and Mr. Woodhouse was left to complain about his poor Isabella who was in reality quite a happy woman.
They received a letter from Mr. Elton that night that told Mr. Woodhouse he was leaving for Bath for a few weeks. He was sorry that he could not personally say goodbye to the family. Emma was delighted—this was exactly what she wanted and admired him for leaving. She did not, however, appreciate the tone in which it was announced. Mr. Elton sounded resentful, and her name was not mentioned one time in the letter. Emma hoped the letter did not arouse suspicion in her father. Mr. Woodhouse did not see anything wrong in the language of the letter but was upset that Mr. Elton was leaving so suddenly and hoped he would get safely to Bath. Emma spent the night persuading him that everything was fine.
Emma now had to give her explanations to Harriet. She went to Mrs. Goddard’s the next day to destroy all of the hope she had built up over the last six weeks. Harriet’s tears made Emma feel she might not ever like herself again, but Harriet did not blame her or anyone. She had poor self esteem and thought that she would never have deserved him. Only someone as kind as Emma could have thought it was possible. Emma thought Harriet’s grief was hugely dignified and thought that Harriet was the better of the two of them. If she acted more like Harriet, she might be happier. Emma left Mrs. Goddard’s with the resolutions to be humble and repress her imagination still strong in her mind. She would see to her father and Harriet’s comfort, and she would show her affection in different ways than match-making. She would also attempt to drive Mr. Elton from her mind. She considered that Harriet, being as young as she was, might be over it by the time Mr. Elton returned so that they could all go back to being friends. They had to bear the awkwardness of future meetings as none of them had the ability to leave Highbury. Harriet was affected the most by her friends at Mrs. Goddard’s who all spoke about Mr. Elton with adoration.
Frank Churchill did not come—a letter arrived close to the time when he was to appear excusing himself from a visit to Randalls for the foreseeable future. Mrs. Weston was disappointed, even more so than her husband. While Mr. Weston believed him coming at a future time would be better for everyone, and for the weather, Mrs. Weston could only imagine more delays and excuses in their future. She was concerned for what her husband would have to suffer in the future. Emma did not genuinely care that much about Frank Churchill aside from it being a disappointment to the Westons. She wanted to keep out of temptation and be quiet. To make sure she did not upset the Westons, she made sure she paid enough interest in it as her old self might have. She announced the news to Mr. Knightley and made sure to blame the Churchills for keeping him away from Highbury. Mr. Knightley believes he could have come if he wanted to. Emma does not know why he said that as the Churchills will not let him. Mr. Knightley will not believe this without proof. Mr. Knightley believes he might think himself superior to his other friends and family and care for nothing else but pleasure. It would be possible for a man his age to visit his father whenever he wanted to. Emma accuses Mr. Knightley of only seeing it from his perspective—he has been in control of his life for a long time and has not had to deal with bad tempers. Mr. Knightley argues that Frank has no reason for doting on his Aunt and Uncle’s bad tempers as he does not need anymore fortune or pleasure—he already has both. He was at Weymouth a while ago, which is proof enough that he can leave the Churchills. Emma believes it is unfair to judge someone without specific details of their situation. Mr. Knightley suggests that if he announced his decision to see his father in a direct and manly way, then there would be no opposition to the visit. Emma agrees, but points out he might not be able to return again afterwards. Frank is a dependent man! Mr. Knightley thinks this statement would raise other people’s expectations and opinions of Frank. They would respect him more. If he acted like this more often, then they would be far more willing to be persuaded by him. Emma believes Mr. Knightley has this attitude because he is used to persuading people to do what he wants them to. If he had lived with the Churchills, he may not have been able to do the same as he had in life. They continue to argue back and forth—Mr. Knightley believes he is a weak young man if he cannot keep his promises because of the needs and will of other people. He is now a man and needs to act like it. Emma does not think they will ever agree about Frank—she is sure that he is not a weak man. Even if he has a milder personality than Mr. Knightley, he will secure friendships with many people. Mr. Knightley accuses him of living a life of pleasure and creating excuses for it when it suits him—his letters disgust Mr. Knightley. Emma tells him he is the only one who feels this way, but Mr. Knightley does not think Mrs. Weston is satisfied by them. If Mrs. Weston had been someone of a higher status, Frank would have visited as soon as the marriage had taken place. Emma accuse him of being determined to think badly of Frank, but Mr. Knightley seems insulted by this. He would be willing to acknowledge him if he had merits, but he hears of none worth a man. Emma thinks he will be a fine addition to the company at Highbury—they do not always have the opportunity to spend time with fine young men. Emma believes he will be able to talk to everyone about everything. Mr. Knightley would not like this in a man of 23—he would be insufferable to talk to and be around. Emma admits she is prejudiced in her attitude towards Frank because of her love of the Westons. Mr. Knightley does not think about him often. Emma was angry with this statement, although she was not sure why, and changed the subject. Emma thought Mr. Knightley was usually quite reasonable in his thoughts of others, but had not considered that he could dislike someone so different to him.
Emma and Harriet were walking together one morning. Emma had had enough of talking about Mr. Elton and was growing tired of the subject. She did not want to keep thinking about her mistakes. When Emma thought she had successfully changed the subject to that of the poor, Harriet interjected by reminding them that Mr. Elton was so good for the poor. Emma knew she needed to do something else to stop her. When they reached the house where Mrs. and Miss Bates lived she decided to visit them and seek help from the group to distract Harriet. Mr. Knightley had often reminded Emma of her faults in failing to pay proper attention to the Bates, but because they were tiresome women below her in society, she rarely went near them. Emma also felt safe going in because there could not be a letter from Jane at this time. They were welcomed with kindness and cake. A Mrs. Cole had recently visited and liked the cake a lot. With mention of the Coles, Emma knew that Mr. Elton could not be far behind in the conversation as they were friends. Emma knew that they would have to talk about the letter announcing his trip to Bath once more, and discuss what he might be doing. She had been ready for this conversation, but knew after this they could move onto other conversations. However, the conversation actually leaped into a consideration of Jane, who had written that morning. Emma politely asked after Jane. Miss Bates rambled on for a while about Jane’s writing ability, the length of the letter, her mother’s poor eyes and so on, until she had to stop talking to breathe. Emma took that moment to compliment Jane’s handwriting, which Miss Bates was delighted with. She repeated Emma’s comment twice to Mrs. Bates, who could not hear her properly. Emma considered making an excuse and leaving, but Miss Bates continued on with the conversation. It is revealed that Jane is due in Highbury the following week, which is why they received the unusual letter. She will be with them for three months while the Campbells, who she lives with, go to Ireland. Jane has heard about Ireland’s beauty from Mr. Dixon when they used to walk together, but Colonel Campbell and Mrs. Campbell refused to let them walk by themselves anymore. The Bates thought Jane had wanted to go to Ireland with them. Emma realized something about Jane and Mr. Dixon, then, and pushed for more information with an innocently worded question. Miss Bates is all compliments for Mr. Dixon, who is considered a charming young man, especially after he helped save her from falling into the sea. Emma wonders if Jane prefers to spend time with the Bates family after all of this. Miss Bates believes that Jane has made this choice for herself, but Emma believes that Mrs. Dixon must be disappointed by not having Jane come with them. Miss Bates then changes the subject slightly again. The news that Jane has been unwell upset Miss Bates when she read the letter, and gives them a summary of everything Jane wrote about. Just as Miss Bates is about to read the entire letter to them, Emma stands and announces her father will be waiting for them. Walking away, Emma was pleased she had managed to escape the actual letter even though she heard everything Jane had to say anyway.
Jane Fairfax’s history is revealed. She was an orphan and the only child of Mrs. Bates’ youngest daughter. Lieutenant Fairfax and Jane Bates had married and had a child. Lieutenant Fairfax had died in battle, and then Jane Bates had died from consumption. At this moment, she was taken care of by her grandmother and aunt, and it had seemed likely that she would live there all of her life without the advantage of connections to higher society. A friend of her father’s, Colonel Campbell, took control of her life as he owed Lieutenant Fairfax his life. Years passed before he returned to the country, but searched for Jane when he did. He had one daughter about Jane’s age, and so Jane became their guest and spent a lot of time with them. At nine years old, Colonel Campbell took charge of her education, and from then on she had lived with the Campbells entirely and only visited her Grandmother every now and then. She would be brought up so that she could teach others because Colonel Campbell could not provide her fortune enough to be independent. He hoped that giving her an education would assist in providing for her in the future.
While Jane was educated enough now to start working, none of the family could do without her, and so her leaving the Campbells was delayed. Miss Campbell and Mr. Dixon had grown close to one another and had been married. Jane, in the meantime, could have stayed with the Campbells for forever because of their love for her, but they knew that this would be selfish. Jane fixed on the age of 21 as the age when she would retreat from pleasure and enter into her life as a governess. The Campbells had agreed with Jane that going to Highbury for her last few months of freedom would be a good idea, no matter what their own motives for not having her come to Ireland might have been.
And so, instead of receiving Frank Churchill at Highbury as expected, Jane Fairfax came instead after a two year absence. Emma was upset that she would have to be polite to a person she disliked for three months. She did not know why she did not like Jane. Mr. Knightley suggested it was because she saw the accomplished young woman in her that she wished she could see in herself. Emma’s reasons were that so much fuss was made over Jane, and everyone assumed that because they were the same age, they should be friends. Emma was struck with how wrong she had been about Jane’s manners and appearance. She was elegant, graceful and had beautiful features—much more than Emma could remember. Emma sat looking at Jane thinking she might like her after all. When she remembered that Jane would sink low in society by becoming a governess, she only thought of her in terms of compassion. She also considered the sacrifice that Jane had made on account of Mr. Dixon, who appeared to have been distracted from his wife. Emma felt respect for her by dividing herself from the family while they left for Ireland. When Emma left, she was upset that there was no one in Highbury who could marry Jane and give her her independence. While these were good feelings, they did not last long, and everything started to appear as it usually did when Jane visited. They had to listen to how sickly her Aunt was, and Jane’s little offences started again. Emma played music and Jane played a superior performance. She was also cold and cautious and did not provide her real opinion. Emma was suspicious of this reserved behaviour. Jane refused on giving opinions on Mr. Dixon, their friendship or the match between him and Miss Campbell. Emma saw through this artificial behaviour and decided that there was probably something she was hiding—either Mr. Dixon had been close to announcing his love for Jane, or he was only marrying Miss Campbell for her fortune. Jane and Frank Churchill had been at Weymouth at the same time, and Emma was no more successful in finding out real information about him. Jane only reiterated what other people had already said about him, and Emma could not forgive her for it.
Mr. Knightley was pleased with Emma’s improved treatment of Jane, and so is Mr. Woodhouse. Emma, however, reveals she did not enjoy the evening, particularly because Jane avoided answering so many of her questions and giving her the information she wanted. Mr. Knightley was disappointed by that. Mr. Woodhouse had a good night, even if Miss Bates talked too much, and thought Jane must have enjoyed herself because she had Emma’s company. Mr. Knightley added that Emma had Jane, too. To save Mr. Knightley’s nerves, Emma complimented Jane on her elegance and how much she pitied her. Mr. Knightley was visibly grateful for this. Before he could say so, however, Mr. Woodhouse expressed how sorry he was for their situation and asked Emma whether or not they should send them some pork. Emma reveals she has already sent the whole hind-quarter. Mr. Woodhouse agrees with her decision.
Mr. Knightley starts to tell her some news that will interest her, but is interrupted by Miss Bates and Jane arriving to thank them for the pork. They reveal that Mr. Elton is to be married. This was Mr. Knightley’s news, too. Mr. Elton will be married to a Miss Hawkins from Bath. Miss Bates is surprised to find Mr. Knightley already knows the news, but he reveals he was with Mr. Cole when he received the letter. Emma is pleased by the news. Mr. Woodhouse thinks he is too young to marry. Miss Bates is excited to have a new neighbour to visit. Jane asks if Mr. Elton is a tall man. Emma answers that most at Highbury believe him to be perfect both in body and mind. Miss Bates continues to ramble on about various subjects—the pork, their new neighbours and the health of the Campbells. Emma comments that Mr. Elton and Miss Hawkins can not have known each other for long for they have never heard of her before. Emma tries to push Jane to give her opinion, but she refuses to give it considering she has never even seen Mr. Elton before. Miss Bates wonders if Mr. Dixon looks like Mr. John Knightley. To Jane, they are the opposites. She thinks Mr. Dixon was quite plain, but then reveals she is only giving the general opinion of him, not her own. Miss Bates wishes them a good morning and leaves with Jane.
Emma was pleased with the news of Mr. Elton’s upcoming marriage as it proved he did not suffer from Emma’s refusal. She was sorry, however, for Harriet’s feelings. She decided the news should come from her, and not from others who would not be as sympathetic. However, it was nearing the time when Harriet should be visiting Hartfield, and Emma worried she might meet Miss Bates on her way up. Harriet came in extremely agitated and told her what had just happened. She had left Mrs. Goddard’s, afraid it might rain, and hurried to Hartfield as fast as she could. It began to rain, so she took shelter from it in Ford’s, a shop. Elizabeth Martin and her brother, Mr. Martin, stepped into the shop. Elizabeth saw her, but then looked away. Mr. Martin did not see her and went to the other end of the shop. He looked around, saw Harriet, and then started to whisper with his sister. Harriet was convinced they were talking about her. Elizabeth then came up and asked Harriet how she was. Their meeting was not as friendly as it had been before, but Elizabeth was kind to her. Harriet was terribly sad she was treated so well after the refusal of her brother. Mr. Martin then came up to her and advised her to go by Mr. Cole’s stables to avoid getting wet, and then returned to Elizabeth. Harriet does not know what to do—she has been made uncomfortable by the encounter.
Emma sat quietly for a moment and thought. She pitied the Martin’s. He was obviously sorry to lose her. Emma told Harriet she had behaved well in the meeting and that she shouldn’t think much about it as the first meeting was over and done with. Harriet agreed, but then talked of nothing else. Emma, determined to stop her, gave her the news of Mr. Elton’s engagement. Harriet found herself interested in the fortunate Miss Hawkins which Emma hoped pushed Mr. Martin out of her head again. Emma was glad that the meeting had taken place, and considering that the Martin sisters had never visited Mrs. Goddard’s, they would probably never meet again for a year.
It had been almost a week since Miss Hawkin’s name was first spoken in Highbury, but everyone had already heard of her beauty and accomplishments. When Mr. Elton himself arrived in Highbury all that was left to reveal was her first name and the kind of music she liked to play. He was a supremely happy man—a definite change from the offended one who had fled Highbury. He was now pleased with himself, cared nothing for Emma, and defied Harriet. Augusta Hawkins had a fortune of at least ten thousand pounds. Augusta had been so pleased and impressed with Mr. Elton that their friendship led quickly to an engagement. The wedding itself would be organized quickly and when Mr. Elton left for Bath again it was generally understood he would return to Highbury with his bride.
Emma had barely seen Mr. Elton during his short stay, but what she had seen made her doubt the good qualities she had initially seen in him. She hoped she would never see him again because he and his memory caused her pain. Even though he would still live in Highbury, his marriage would smooth over their past and civility might return.
Emma did not think much of Miss Hawkins. She was good enough for Mr. Elton, was probably plain beside Harriet, and had no real status in society aside from her fortune. She was the youngest of two daughters of a Bristol merchant who had died, and now lived with her lawyer Uncle. The Uncle did not appear to have raised himself in society very far, and Emma assumed he was too stupid to do so. The connection appeared grand because of Miss Hawkins’ older sister, who had married a rich gentleman near Bristol who had two carriages. She wished that she could have given her feelings to Harriet who seemed still in love with Mr. Elton. Emma guessed that Harriet was one of those girls who would always be in love if she had felt it before. The reappearance of Mr. Elton made things worse for her, and she was always with people who found no faults in him. This made her fall in love with him even more, and regretted that she was not Miss Hawkins. If Emma had not felt responsible, she might have been amused by what was happening—sometimes Mr. Elton was favoured by Harriet, and sometimes it was Mr. Martin.
Elizabeth Martin had visited Mrs. Goddard’s a few days after their meeting at Ford’s, but Harriet had not been in. She left a kind note for Harriet. Until Mr. Elton had arrived, Harriet had been obsessed with it, and wondering what she would do. Emma decided that, to offset some of the suffering Mr. Elton was causing her, Harriet should return Elizabeth Martin’s visit. Emma would be careful about it, however. She wanted to make sure that the friendship was not renewed—she would drop Harriet off at the Abbey Mill and return for her before steps toward an intimate friendship could be made.
Harriet was not overjoyed by the prospect of her visit to the Martins. Half an hour before Emma collected her from Mrs. Goddard’s, she saw a trunk for Mr. Elton being lifted into a butcher’s cart. Her attention was solely focused on him and the trunk from then on. Emma dropped her off at the Abbey Mill, where Harriet was at once agitated by being back, and Emma went on to visit an old servant in Donwell for fifteen minutes. Emma returned to Abbey Mill and Harriet came out of the house promptly by herself. Although Harriet found it hard at first to tell her what had happened, Emma discovered that the meeting had been reserved to begin with, that only Mrs. Martin and her two daughters had been there, and they kept to general conversation. That is, until Mrs. Martin declared that Harriet seemed to have grown taller and they looked to pencilled marks on the wall by the window which Mr. Martin had made the previous summer. As soon as they started to settle into their old way of friendship, Emma had returned. Although Emma was sad that this caused so much pain for Harriet, she knew it was necessary. She decided to visit Randalls on the way home to keep Harriet from thinking too much about Mr. Martin and Mr. Elton, but on arrival discovered that the Westons were actually visiting Hartfield that moment. Emma did not know when she was last so disappointed.
The carriage stopped, and both Westons stood waiting to talk to her. They revealed that they had received a letter from Frank who would be arriving the following day and staying for two weeks. If had come at Christmas, he would have only been able to stay three days, so Mr. Weston was immensely pleased he had not. Emma looked to Mrs. Weston, who was happy, and decided if Mrs. Weston thought Frank was coming, then he must. Emma hoped Mr. Elton would not be talked about anymore. Mr. Weston promised to bring Frank to Hartfield, and then the two left. Harriet’s only question for Emma was as to whether Frank would travel through Bath on his way to Highbury.
The next day, Emma kept Mrs. Weston in her thoughts. At noon, she imagined Mrs. Weston going from room to room making sure everything was perfect. Emma hoped that Frank would be brought for a visit the following day. She opened the parlour door to find Mr. Weston and Frank sitting with Mr. Woodhouse. Mr. Weston explained that Frank had arrived a day before he was meant to, and finally Emma was face to face with him. He was a good looking man and appeared intelligent and sensible. Emma decided she would like him. He was at ease in talking to her, which suggested that he wanted to be friends with her as much as she wanted to be with him. Emma was impressed by the eagerness Frank had shown in arriving so early, and his compliments for Randalls, Highbury and Hartfield. He was terribly indulgent in their conversation, and even though Emma suspected it might be Frank’s way of getting on their side, she still admired the way he handled himself. It did not appear that he was lying or exaggerating when he spoke.
When Mr. Weston and Mr. Woodhouse were engaged in a conversation, Frank took an opportunity to compliment Mrs. Weston to Emma. He nearly complimented Emma for Mrs. Weston’s merits, even though in normal circumstances it was supposed to be the governess who formed her charge’s character, not the other way around. Frank admitted he was not expecting to find Mrs. Weston a pretty young woman. Emma suggested he should not say such things around Mrs. Weston, but Emma could not hear enough compliments for Mrs. Weston herself. Emma wondered to herself whether or not Frank had considered their possible future marriage as she had done. She had no doubt that Mr. Weston had thought of it as he continued to glance toward them with a happy face and was often listening in on their conversation. Mr. Woodhouse did not consider this for an instant, which Emma was happy about—he usually objected to every marriage he heard about, and so Emma was pleased he was not struck with any anxiety about one being arranged between them.
Mr. Weston had to leave, then, on business and suggested that Frank should stay. However, Frank gave his apologies and told them he was going to visit Jane, who he had met at Weymouth. He doubted whether or not he should visit her today, but all encouraged him to do so considering Jane was used to attention at the Campbells and barely received any while living with her Grandmother and Aunt. Frank and Mr. Weston left, then, and Emma was pleased that she could think about them being at Randalls at every hour of the day.
Frank returned to Hartfield the following morning with Mrs. Weston. Emma had not expected them, but was pleased to see them. They went for a walk for two hours around Highbury, during which Emma was satisfied with Frank’s treatment of Mrs. Weston. Frank found everything he saw of Highbury in a complimentary way. His interest in his father’s past, in particularly, proved to Emma that Mr. Knightley had not done him justice, and that it had not been his choice to put off the visit.
They stopped at the Crown Inn, which had, many years ago, had a large room built for a ballroom. It had been used for some dances, but now it was only used for a whist club. Frank wanted to have balls there once every fortnight during the winter. He wondered why Emma had not brought the room back to its former glory and organized balls—she could do anything in Highbury that she wanted to do. Emma suggested there were not enough families of consequence in the area to attend. Frank continued to argue cheerfully in defence of having dances in the future, and Emma could see none of the proud nature of Enscombe in him.
When they reached the area the Bates family lived in, Emma asked if he managed to visit them the previous day. Frank admitted that he had only intended on staying for ten minutes, but could not get away. When Mr. Weston, finding his son still there, joined him, Frank had been sitting there for 45 minutes! Frank thought Jane looked ill because she was so pale, and Emma found herself defending her. They came to Ford’s and Frank demanded to go in so he could buy something. Emma asked him if he and Jane spent much time together at Weymouth, but Frank would not tell her—it is a lady’s right to decide how well they were or weren’t acquainted. Emma is surprised he has given an answer as vague as the one Jane gave. Emma insists that Jane is so reserved that Frank could really say anything. He admits that he met her frequently that the Campbells were well liked, and they were generally all within the same circle. Emma wonders if he knows what Jane is about to become. Mrs. Weston reminds them not to talk in this way and moves away from them. After they were done with the shop, Frank asked them if they had ever heard Jane play music. Emma has often heard her play. Frank wondered what other people thought about her playing—a man who was in love with another woman would never ask anyone, but Jane to sit down and play the piano if she was nearby. Emma guesses that this man was Mr. Dixon. Emma wondered how Miss Campbell felt. Frank reminded her that Jane was her friend. Emma still felt sorry for Miss Campbell, but Frank did not think she felt it. Emma did not know if that was a good or bad thing—either she is stupid or too sweet. Emma suggested that Jane should have refused to play if Miss Campbell had not been asked, and suggests that something more was at work between them. Frank did not know what to say about their relationship—he could only comment on what he had seen. They talk about Jane’s reserved behaviour and how much it annoys both Emma and Frank—he could never love a reserved person. Emma would never be able to be close friends with Jane—she does not think poorly of her, but is suspicious of people who seem to have things to hide. Frank agreed with her, and Emma felt they were close friends despite it only being their second time together.
Emma thought he was a better man than she expected—kinder and less spoilt by his fortune. Frank would not find anything wrong with Mr. Elton’s house—if a man shared a house with the woman he loved, there would be nothing wrong with it. Mrs. Weston laughed at him and accused him of looking at it from his own spoiled past, but Emma decided this meant he was looking to settle down and marry early in life for love. It seemed to suggest he would give up Enscombe if he found someone to love.
Emma’s opinion of Frank was shaken a little the following day when she heard he had gone to London to have a hair cut. It seemed like nonsense to her, and she did not approve. It didn’t fall into her impression of him as a moderate, rational, unselfish man. This was proof of restlessness and vanity. Mrs. Weston did not like it, either, but Mr. Weston thought it was a good story. Despite this, Emma found that all of her friends thought well of Frank. Mr. Weston suggested that Frank admired Emma a great deal, which led Emma to believe she had been marked out as a possible match for Frank. Mr. Knightley was the only one who did not like Frank and thought his hair cut in London only proved how silly Frank was.
Mr. and Mrs. Weston’s visit to Hartfield brought bad news—something had happened which they wanted Emma’s advice on. The Coles, who had been in Highbury for many years, were low in society. They had kept to their means, at first, but when their wealth increased, they bought a larger house and had become second to the Hartfield house. They had thrown a few parties, but Emma did not think they would invite families above their status. Donwell and Randalls had received their invitations, but Hartfield had not. Mrs. Weston explained it away—they would not be brave enough to invite them, and they knew Mr. Woodhouse did not go out often. Emma still wanted to have the power to refuse, and felt sorry that the friends she liked so much would be attending. Even Harriet would be there!
When an invitation arrives for her, Emma accepts it purely because of their attention to her father. They had wanted to send an invitation earlier, but were waiting on a folding screen to arrive from London so that they could keep drafts away from him. Mr. Woodhouse would not go, but the Coles could come and take tea with them one day. He asks the Westons to take care of Emma while she is out and wishes that Mrs. Weston could have stayed at home with him if she had not married. This only agitated Mr. Woodhouse and Mr. Weston remained quiet until the two ladies could figure out what should be done. Mrs. Goddard would be written to and invited to the house. Mr. Woodhouse would like Emma to come home from the dinner early. Mr. Weston argues against it as it would break up the party and be offensive to their neighbours of ten years. Mr. Woodhouse agrees—she will be safe among friends and will not hurt the Coles by leaving early. Emma only fears Mr. Woodhouse staying up too late for her—he agrees to go to bed only if she eats and gets warm as soon as she arrives home.
Frank had returned with his hair cut and no shame at having gone all the way to London to have it done. Emma decides that not all silly actions mean the person carrying them out is silly. If he was, he would have been ashamed or celebrated the act. She looked forward to seeing Frank again at the Coles’ dinner, and Emma decided she would be happy, despite going to the Coles’ home.
Emma’s carriage followed Mr. Knightley’s, which she was pleased for because Mr. Knightley often refused to use his carriage. Emma complimented him on an entrance befitting a gentleman. Mr. Knightley thanked her, but commented that he wondered if she would know if he was more of a gentleman or not had she not seen him arrive. Emma suggested that Mr. Knightley usually had to pretend to be more important than he felt when he arrived without a carriage because he was ashamed, and now he had nothing to fear. Emma would be more than happy to walk into the house with him. Emma was pleased with the party—she was sat beside Frank and believed it was because he made it so. A conversation at the dinner table catches Emma’s ear—she hears that a pianoforte had arrived at the Bates’ house. They did not know who had ordered it but assumed it couldn’t have come from anyone else but Colonel Campbell. However, Jane had received a letter from the Campbells recently, and nothing had been said about it. They assumed that it was meant as a surprise. The Coles were pleased that Jane had been given an instrument to play as they always felt it was a shame that an accomplished pianist had no piano of her own to play at home. They hoped that their own pianoforte would be played by their neighbours that evening and in particular by Emma. Emma then turned to Frank and suggested that they had the same thoughts—that they believed the pianoforte to have come from Mr. Dixon, and not from Colonel Campbell. While Frank does not know if he feels the same way, he admits that Emma’s theory that they were in love has some merit to it.
When the ladies went to the drawing room, the ladies of a lower status arrived, including Harriet. Jane Fairfax did look superior to Harriet, but Emma was sure that Jane would want to change feelings with Harriet who was glad, despite her shame, to have loved Mr. Elton. Emma did not need to approach Jane in a party this large, and kept at a distance. The subject of the pianoforte was raised, and Jane blushed with guilt when she admitted it was from Colonel Campbell. They were then joined by the gentlemen. Frank stood by Emma when he found there was no seat beside her, and Emma knew then that everyone would think she was his devoted subject, and no one else. After introducing him to Harriet, Harriet felt there was something in Frank that was like Mr. Elton, and Emma had to turn away from her in silence. After a conversation about Highbury and Enscombe, Emma is certain that Highbury is more suited to Frank. He had wished to go away and travel, but now that wish was fading. Emma was sure this was because of his visit to Highbury.
Frank regretted that his time at Highbury was almost half over. Emma wondered if he regretted spending a day having his haircut, but he did not. After Emma spends time talking to Mr. Cole, she turns to find Frank staring at Jane. She asks him what the matter is, and Frank admits he is transfixed with the way Jane has done her hair—he has never seen anything like it and must ask her immediately whether it is an Irish fashion. Emma could not watch Jane to see if she blushed because Frank stood in front of her. Mrs. Weston took his seat before Frank could return. She was longing to talk to Emma—she wonders if she has heard how Miss Bates and Jane arrived at the party. Emma assumed they walked. Mrs. Weston tells her after feeling sorry for them having to walk home on such a cold night and offering a seat in their carriage, she discovered that Mr. Knightley’s carriage had brought and would take them home again. Mrs. Weston thinks it was kind of him to do so, and that this is the only reason why he arrived in the carriage. Emma agrees. Mrs. Weston admits that another thought has entered her head—she has made a match between Mr. Knightley and Jane. Emma disagrees—Mr. Knightley cannot marry because then Isabella’s children would not be able to inherit Donwell. Mrs. Weston does not want the match either, but points out that she has always been a favourite of Mr. Knightley’s. Emma tells Mrs. Weston to avoid match-making as she is not good at it. Mrs. Weston cannot see anything wrong with the match aside from the difference in age and fortune. Mrs. Weston suggests that he might be in love and want to give her a respectable home. Mrs. Weston suggests that the pianoforte has arrived from Mr. Knightley, and not Colonel Campbell. Emma does not think it would be him as he does nothing mysteriously. Mrs. Weston points out that Jane had complained to him on more than one occasion about her lack of an instrument. Mr. Knightley was also silent when Mrs. Cole told them about it at dinner. Emma will not believe any proof of the possibility.
They argued over it until Mrs. Cole approached them and asked Emma to try the pianoforte. Frank had found a seat next to Jane and asked Emma to play. She agreed to—she knew that her talents were limited but could sing fairly well. Frank joined her during one song to sing and was accused of having a talent for music. Frank denied this but sang once more with Emma. Emma then swapped with Jane, whose performance was most definitely superior. Frank and Jane had clearly sung together at Weymouth, but Emma was more interested in Mr. Knightley, who listened with the most attention. She did not want him to marry—little Henry must inherit Donwell. Mr. Knightley came and sat beside her, then, and they talked only of the performance. She complimented him on his kindness toward Jane and Miss Bates—he did not want to talk of his own kindness. Emma would have liked to do the same, but did not think her father would agree. Mr. Knightley is sure she would want to assist others. Emma mentions the gift of the pianoforte was a lovely one, but Mr. Knightley believes it would have been better had they told her it was coming as it would have been an inconvenience. Emma could have sworn at that moment that Mr. Knightley had not given Jane the instrument, but thought he was still attached in an odd way. When Jane’s voice grew hoarse, Mr. Knightley told her not to sing anymore. While Frank tried to persuade her otherwise, Mr. Knightley grew angry and accused him of wanting to hear his own voice. He asked Miss Bates to assist and stop her niece from singing anymore. Miss Bates put an end to all of the singing.
Everything was cleared away when the Coles suggested dancing. Mrs. Weston played for them, and Frank asked Emma to dance with him. While Frank complimented her on her talents, Emma looked around for Mr. Knightley. She knew he hated dances—if he asked Jane to dance, it would suggest something. Jane was asked by someone else, and Mr. Knightley was in conversation with Mrs. Cole. Emma did not worry anymore about little Henry—she felt his inheritance would be safe—and started to really enjoy herself. They danced two dances before they decided it was too late to go on. Frank admitted, while he helped Emma into her carriage, that he was glad for it otherwise he would have had to ask Jane to dance with him.
Emma was pleased that she had gone to the Coles’ dinner party. It gave her many pleasant memories the next day, especially considering she must have delighted the Coles themselves. However, she was uneasy when she remembered what she had said to Frank about Jane’s feelings. She should not have said anything, but was unable to stop herself. She also regretted the inferior quality of her performance compared to Jane’s. She sat down and practised for an hour and a half. Harriet interrupted her, then, and complimented her but Emma did not find comfort in it. Harriet told her what compliments people had made about Emma the previous night, but Emma finds fault in all of them—Jane is much better.
Harriet adds that she heard something from another family there, the Coxes. Emma was afraid to ask, thinking that the subject of Mr. Elton might be brought up again, but she reveals that Mr. Martin had dinner with them a week before. Miss Nash thought that either of the Coxes daughters would be glad to marry him. Emma suggests the Coxes daughters are vulgar. Harriet had business to attend to at Ford’s, so Emma went with her, fearing another meeting with the Martins. While Harriet took a long time to figure out what she wanted to buy, Emma went to the door to watch people pass. She looked down the Randalls road to see Mrs. Weston and Frank walking towards Hartfield. They stopped at the Bates’ house first and, before they could knock, saw Emma and walked toward her. They were going to the Bates’ to see and hear the new pianoforte. Frank suggested he might join Emma and Harriet and go onto Hartfield while Mrs. Weston pays her visit. Mrs. Weston was visibly disappointed. Emma suggests he should go with Mrs. Weston. Frank agrees to, but wonders what will happen if he has to lie about the quality of the instrument—he cannot tell convincing lies. Emma does not believe this—he can tell lies when he needs to, but she is certain he will not have to. Mrs. Weston and Frank return to the Bates house.
Harriet continued her indecision until Mrs. Weston and Miss Bates arrived at the shop door and asked them to come across to hear the new pianoforte. After Miss Bates rambles on, including mentioning Frank’s suggestion that Emma should come and hear the instrument, Emma tells them she would be happy to come and visit. They step out into the street. Miss Bates reveals that Mr. Knightley had visited them the other day and promised to send them more of the apples from his orchard because Jane enjoyed them.
They find Frank fixing Mrs. Bates’ spectacles, and he was happy to see Emma—even ten minutes before he had calculated she might return. Mrs. Weston is surprised he is still fixing the spectacles, but Frank insists he had other tasks to accomplish, too: he was helping Jane make the pianoforte steady on the uneven floor. Frank made Emma sit beside her and looked for the best baked apple for her to eat. Jane was not ready to play just yet, and Emma believed it was because the instrument was so new to her and made her emotional. Jane began, and the pianoforte was complimented. Frank, while smiling at Emma, agreed that Colonel Campbell or the friend he had asked to help had exceptionally good taste. Frank asked Jane if Colonel Campbell had a direct hand in finding the pianoforte, but Jane could not answer—she would only be guessing until she received a letter from Colonel Campbell. Emma whispers to Frank to stop teasing Jane—she had not meant to say anything.
Frank asks her to play something from the previous night, but Jane plays something from Weymouth. Frank remembers the tune and Jane blushes, and then plays something else. Frank points out that Colonel Campbell sent sheet music with the pianoforte because he knew she would have none with her, which Frank believes shows how much affection went into the present. Emma caught Jane smiling to herself and blushing. Jane was apparently remembering something from her past. While Jane played, Emma admitted again that she wished she had not said anything. Frank is pleased she did as he now has the ability to open her up a bit more. Frank does not think she feels bad about her past, or wrongly because she is currently playing Mr. Dixon’s favourite song.
Miss Bates saw Mr. Knightley on horseback. She decides to go into her mother’s room and call from the window to invite him in. Mr. Knightley asks after Jane and wonders if she is well. Mrs. Weston gave Emma a particular look, but Emma shook her head. Mr. Knightley then asks if he could fetch anything from Kingston while he is there. Miss Bates has nothing for him to do, but asks him to come inside. He agrees to do so for five minutes, but when he hears that Mrs. Weston and Frank are there, decides he cannot stay for even two minutes. He will call in on another day to see the pianoforte. Miss Bates compliments Frank and Emma for their dancing the previous night, and Mr. Knightley knows they are listening and agrees, but adds that Jane and Mrs. Weston should be complimented to. Miss Bates thanks him for the apples, but tells him off for sending his entire store of them. Before she can say another word, Mr. Knightley leaves.
Emma decided it must be time for her to go home. Frank and Mrs. Weston walked them to the Hartfield gates and then left for Randalls.
Frank wanted another dance. He spent the last moments of an evening at Randalls trying to persuade them all into giving another ball. Frank walked the length of the room to see how large it was—he wanted the same visitors and the same musicians to attend. Mr. Weston decided it was a great idea, Mrs. Weston would play for as long as they wanted to dance, and the rest of the people there tried to figure out how many couples could dance in the room. Five couples listed turned into ten, and they wondered if they couldn’t open the doors to two rooms and dance across the hall. Some of them thought it would be a bad idea, and Mr. Woodhouse thought it would be unhealthy. He was worried about the ladies, particularly Emma, getting a cold because of the air. The passage plan was given up, and the room they had decided was not big enough for ten, suddenly was. Emma disagreed—there would not be room enough for ten couples. Frank did not want to give the plan up—he did not want his father to be disappointed.
The next day, Frank arrived at Hartfield with an announcement. He suggests the dance be given at the Crown Inn, instead, and asks for Emma’s hand in the first two dances. Emma agrees with the plan as long as the Westons and her father agreed. Mr. Woodhouse did not understand how the Crown Inn could be safer for their health than the Randalls, and opposed the plan. Frank tells them they will not have any windows opened, which sometimes happens at parties. Mr. Woodhouse sees the plan as a better one, but still wants to discuss it in detail. Emma suggests that the Crown would be better for the horses as the stable was nearby, and Frank points out that Mrs. Weston is in charge of directing the Crown and getting it ready. Mr. Woodhouse is pleased with this because Mr. Perry approves of Mrs. Weston—she was always so careful when helping Emma with sicknesses.
Frank had left the Westons looking over the Crown space to see what might be done, and had rushed over to Hartfield to see if they would join them and offer their own advice. Emma was happy to do so. Mrs. Weston thought the wallpaper was dirty, but her husband assured her they wouldn’t see any of that by candlelight—they never saw it during their games nights. Emma and Mrs. Weston exchanged a look that seemed to say no man can see if something is dirty or not. One problem was where they would have their supper. Mrs. Weston suggested not have supper and just having sandwiches set out, but this was rejected. She wished that they could have their guests’ opinions as to what to do so they could do what was generally pleasing for all. Frank suggests calling on the Coles or for Miss Bates. Emma suggests not consulting Miss Bates as she will tell them nothing—she will only agree with whatever they have to say. Frank will not bring the entire family, and he is fond of hearing Miss Bates talk. Mrs. Weston agreed with the plan, and Frank is told to bring Jane with him.
Mrs. Weston, in the meantime, had looked into the passage and found it was not as bad a spot to have supper after all, and so all of the decisions had been made before Jane and Miss Bates returned. Frank had already written to Enscombe asking to stay beyond his original fortnight, and the rest of the elements of the party would be decided on by Mrs. Weston. When Miss Bates arrived she assumed her role as approver and agreed with everything that had been decided. Emma was secured by Frank for the first two dances, and Emma overheard Mr. Weston whisper to Mrs. Weston that he knew Frank would ask her.
Emma wanted the date for the ball to be within Frank’s original fortnight so that the Churchills did not call him back. However, this was not feasible, and they would not be able to get everything ready until the third week. Enscombe did not approve but could not say anything against Frank staying. Emma was less anxious about this element, and started to worry about Mr. Knightley’s indifference to it. He did not seem interested in it, whether because he hated dances or because everything had been decided without his help, and was not excited by it. He will not refuse the invitation, but he would rather be at home doing work. Jane Fairfax, on the other hand, was excited by the prospect of the dance. Emma was further convinced that Mr. Knightley did not care much for Jane if he did not share her feelings for the dance.
However, a letter arrived from Mrs. Churchill, demanding his presence at Enscombe immediately. She was unwell and could not do without him. She had not mentioned it before, wanting to save Frank from having to rush back, but now she needed him. Mrs. Weston wrote to Emma immediately to tell her of the letter—he had to leave in a few hours but was not worried about his Aunt. Her illnesses arose only at her own convenience. He would be stopping in at Hartfield before he went. Emma was sorry to lose Frank and the dance. That Emma had been correct in her prediction was her only consolation. Mr. Woodhouse felt strongly about Mrs. Churchill’s illness and he was happy that they would be staying safely at home. When Frank arrived at Hartfield, his sorrow was clear. Emma suggested he would be back again, but Frank did not know when he would be back. He was sorry he did not listen to Emma and have the dance immediately. Emma would have rather been wrong. She wondered if Frank had delayed in coming to Hartfield because he did not have a positive view of Highbury. Frank laughed and denied it, but Emma knew this was the reason. Frank admitted he already been in to say goodbye to the Bates house. He started to announce his love for Hartfield, and then suddenly stopped, unable to say anything else. Emma saw that he was more in love with her than she had known, and did not know what would have happened had Mr. Woodhouse not stepped into the room then. Frank would hear all about Highbury from Mrs. Weston’s letters. He then said goodbye and Emma was sorry to feel his absence.
It had been a happy fortnight for her, and she considered that she must be in love with him a little, despite her determination not to. She feels the restlessness is due to his disappearance from Highbury, and she knows others will also mourn the loss of the dance—all, that is, except for Mr. Knightley. He did not, however, appear to be happy. He was not sorry for the loss, but he was sorry for Emma’s disappointment. It was a few days before Emma saw Jane and discovered that she had been unwell, and probably wouldn’t have been able to attend the ball anyway.
Emma continued to think about her love for Frank—she wondered by how much she was in love with him. It was lovely to hear about Frank, to wait for a letter and to wonder when he might return to Highbury, but she was not unhappy. She could imagine his faults, and as she sat she thought of the way their friendship might have evolved, imagining conversations and elegant letters. The conclusion to every imaginary scenario led to her refusing him and them staying friends. She did not think she could be completely in love if she could not even imagine marrying him. Emma suspects she does not need him to be happy, and will not persuade herself to be more in love than she appears to be. Emma has no doubts that Frank is in love with her, and she must not encourage him when he returns to Hartfield. She thinks she has been let off easily—everyone is meant to be in love once in their lives, and she is happy to have it over and to have ended happily.
When Frank’s letter to Mrs. Weston arrived, Emma read it. It was a long letter detailing his journey and his feelings about it. Emma was pleased to see that her name was mentioned more than once in compliments. Frank sent his apologies to Emma’s “friend” Harriet, who is not mentioned by name. Emma is sure that this remark was meant for her more than for Harriet. Mrs. Churchill was still recovering from her illness, and Frank was unable to suggest a time when he would be back in Highbury again. Although Emma was pleased by the letter, she found it did not leave any lasting happiness with her, and she was decided that they must do without one another. She considered matching Harriet and Frank together as Frank had been struck by her beauty, but then decided against it—it would be in Harriet’s advantage, but Emma knew the dangers of speculating marriage matches.
Where Frank’s visit had meant less conversations about Mr. Elton, the reverse was now true. His wedding date to Miss Hawkins was named, and he would soon be back at Highbury with his bride. Frank was not discussed. Emma was tired of it—she had had three weeks without hearing Mr. Elton, which she hoped had helped Harriet to get over him. She had not. Harriet required comfort from Emma, but it was hard work when Harriet never seemed to get any better or change her opinions. Emma tried a different angle—she accuses Harriet of dwelling on her unhappiness and insulting Emma in the process because of her mistake. She has not forgotten it was her own doing, and she will never forget it, and Harriet must stop trying to remind her of it. Emma wants Harriet to forget for her own sake, not for Emma’s, because Emma will never forget. Emma’s appeal to Harriet’s affection for her helped considerably. Harriet felt she was ungrateful to Emma, and Emma had never loved her more. She thought Harriet’s tenderness of the heart was like her own father’s or Isabella’s. Emma does not have it herself, but she respects it in others. She thinks of Harriet as her superior in this sense, and the superior to the cold Jane Fairfax. Emma even longs for a man who might transform her from an Emma into a Harriet, knowing the value of affection and kindness, but having none herself.
Mrs. Elton was first seen at Church, but the pews were not a good viewing location, and so it was left to the formal visits to see if she was pretty or not. Emma did not want to be the last to pay her respects to the family and made sure Harriet went with her to avoid too many unpleasant moments. Emma was struck by her memories of three months before, when she entered the house to lace up her boot. She believed Harriet was remembering the same, but she behaved herself and kept quiet. They kept the visit short, and Emma found that she was so occupied by her past memories that she could not form an opinion of Mrs. Elton. She did not really like her, however, as Mrs. Elton was not elegant. Mr. Elton’s manners were awkward, but Emma forgave him for that—it must have been hard to be in the same room as his new wife, the woman he wanted to marry, and the woman he had been expected to marry.
After the visit, Harriet and Emma discuss Mrs. Elton. They both admit that she is charming and well dressed. Neither is surprised that Mr. Elton fell in love with her, but they disagree about Mrs. Elton being in love with him. Emma suggests that not all women can marry the men they love—they have to marry for a home, and take the best offer they will likely receive. Harriet admits that she will not be afraid of seeing them again as Mr. Elton being married makes everything different. She is comforted to know that he did not throw himself away and that he married someone he deserves.
When a return visit was made at Hartfield, Emma managed to talk to Mrs. Elton by herself for fifteen minutes. She decided that Mrs. Elton was a vain woman who was interested in her own importance. She wanted to be superior, but her manners were not excellent ones. Emma was convinced that Harriet would have been a better match for Mr. Elton, and that it was only the rich brother in Bristol which had enticed him into the alliance. The brother’s home in Maple Grove was compared to Hartfield—Mrs. Elton thought they were quite similar and compared the gardens and the house to the point where she could imagine she was back home. She is sure that her brother and sister will love Hartfield particularly for the extensive grounds, but Emma doubts this statement—no one with extensive grounds cares about any other household with them. Emma tells Mrs. Elton that after she has seen more of Surrey, she will have found she has overrated Hartfield. Mrs. Elton is well aware—she knows that Surrey is the garden of England. Emma reminds her that many counties claim to be the garden of England, but Mrs. Elton disagrees—she has never heard of anywhere but Surrey called this name. Emma keeps quiet.
Mrs. Elton goes on to describe the future visit her brother and sister will make, and the exploring they will do. Mrs. Elton is sure that Emma and her friends do the same thing, but Emma does not go far and insists that they are more inclined to stay at home. Mrs. Elton claims she is the same way, but does not believe people who shut themselves off from society do themselves any favours—it is better to live in moderation. Mrs. Elton suggests that taking Mr. Woodhouse to Bath might help his health and let Emma go out more often. Emma tells her Mr. Woodhouse has attempted it before with no benefit to his health and that his doctor, Mr. Perry disagrees with the place. Mrs. Elton offers to introduce Emma to the best society in Bath as she has led a secluded life. Emma could not stomach this suggestion—to be in debt to Mrs. Elton for the introduction would be undignified. Emma remained polite and thanked her, but reminded her that going to Bath was out of the question. She changed the subject quickly.
Emma and Mrs. Elton talked about music. Emma had heard Mrs. Elton was an excellent performer, but Mrs. Elton insists that she is mediocre in talent. She loves to perform, and this was the only condition that Mrs. Elton made clear to Mr. Elton before they were married—she could do without all of the pleasures and luxuries she was used to at Maple Grove except for being part of a musical society. Emma assured her they were quite musical at Highbury. Mrs. Elton is pleased and suggests that they hold small concerts and attend weekly meetings. She thinks this will help her to continue with her music, especially as married women tend to give up their musical hobbies. Emma does not think she will give it up if she loves it that much, but Mrs. Elton doubts this.
Mrs. Elton changes the subject. She has visited Randalls and thinks that Mrs. Weston is a lovely person. She is surprised, however, that she is also quite lady-like, but Emma insists that her manners have always been very good. Mrs. Elton asks her to guess who was there when they visited, but Emma had no idea. Mrs. Elton tells her they met Mr. Knightley there, whom she had been looking forward to meeting after Mr. Elton had mentioned him so often. She likes him very much. At this point, the Eltons had to leave, and Emma could finally breathe.
She could not believe Mrs. Elton had the audacity to call Mr. Knightley, “Knightley”, and this to only be their first visit. She is also insulted that Mrs. Elton was surprised to find Mr. Knightley was a gentleman and that Mrs. Weston was a gentlewoman, and that she suggested the musical club. She imagines how angry Frank would be if he was there.
Mr. Woodhouse thought she was quite a charming young lady and would make for a fine wife. He still did not think Mr. Elton should have married. He made his excuses to them for not visiting, and hoped that he would be able to in the summer. He worries that he has insulted them by not visiting the new bride before now, but Emma assures him that his apologies would be well accepted. If he does not like marriage so much, he should not pay his respects to a bride or he would be seen encouraging more people to marry. Mr. Woodhouse still believes that a bride should have attention paid to her. It is polite and has nothing to do with encouraging marriage. Emma continued to be occupied by Mrs. Elton’s insults.
On the second visit with Mrs. Elton, Emma felt secure in her opinions—she was still self important despite her little beauty and accomplishments. She thought that she had come to this country neighbourhood to improve it. Mr. Elton was proud of his wife and appeared to believe not even Emma was her equal. Emma continued to stick to her original polite compliments. Mrs. Elton’s feelings toward Emma, however, changed. She was probably offended by Emma’s reserved nature and started to draw away from her, as well. This only added to Emma’s dislike of her. Both Mrs. Elton and Mr. Elton were cruel to Harriet, and Emma only hoped that it would cure Harriet of her love. It was likely that Mr. Elton had told his wife what had happened, making sure to show himself in a better light.
Mrs. Elton did like Jane Fairfax; before Mrs. Elton stopped confiding in Emma, she admitted that she wanted to do something for Jane to bring her forward in life. Mrs. Elton did not want her talents and charm to go to waste when she becomes a governess. Emma does not understand how Mrs. Elton’s attention could be any different than that of the rest of Highbury. Mrs. Elton insists that she lives in a style which could support Jane—she will have her at her house whenever she can, introduce her to those she can, have musical parties to show off her talent and be on the look out for an eligible husband for her. Mrs. Elton has many friends, and she does not doubt hearing of someone suitable soon. Emma thought Jane did not deserve this, even if she had acted improperly around Mr. Dixon. Thankfully, Mrs. Elton’s change came soon after, and Emma did not have to listen to her talk about this again. Emma was surprised that Jane accepted Mrs. Elton’s help and attention and Emma heard of Jane spending time with them most days. Emma did not understand why Jane was still at Highbury and had not returned to the Campbells. They had decided to stay on for longer during the summer, and a new invitation had arrived for Jane, but she had declined to go. Emma feels there must be a hidden motive for refusing the invitation. Mrs. Weston explains to Emma that Jane must have accepted the Eltons as friends because it is better than her Aunt for company. Mr. Knightley agreed with this theory and added that she was capable of deciding for herself who she spent time with. Had Emma taken the time and effort to pay attention to her, Jane may not have chosen Mrs. Elton for her friend. Mr. Knightley added that Jane probably impressed Mrs. Elton by her superior mind and talent, and that she deserves the respect that Mrs. Elton gives her. Emma—suddenly afraid for Henry’s inheritance again—tells Mr. Knightley she knows how highly he thinks of her and that his admiration for her might take him by surprise one day. Mr. Knightley tells Emma she is far behind in her theories—Mr. Cole suggested it over a month ago. Even if Mr. Knightley asked Miss Fairfax, she would not have him, and he will not ask her. He realizes that Emma has been matching him with Jane, but Emma denies it. She would never take that kind of liberty with him and did not want him to marry anyone. Mr. Knightley assures her he has never thought of Jane in that way—she does not have the open temper which he wished for in a wife. Jane has feelings, but she is too reserved and cold. When Mr. Knightley left them, Emma asked what Mrs. Weston had to say about her theory about them being in love. Mrs. Weston does not think she has been beaten yet as he might be opposing the idea so much that he might actually be in love with her after all.
Everyone who had ever visited Mr. Elton before had to give him attention for his marriage. There were dinners and parties given for him and his new wife, and Mrs. Elton thought she would never have a day without something to do. She was used to going to dinners and parties because of her past at Bath and Maple Grove, and she corrected all the little mistakes some of the neighbours in Highbury made in their arrangements. Emma would not be satisfied until she gave a dinner at Hartfield for the Eltons because she did not want to be insulting them. Mr. Woodhouse agreed to it. Emma invited Harriet, but she begged not to attend. She did not want to see Mr. Elton happy with his wife and would rather stay at home. Emma was secretly pleased because she actually wanted to have Jane as her last dinner party guest, especially considering the last conversation she had had with Mr. Knightley about her. She wanted to show her the attention Mr. Knightley thought Emma should give her. Emma was sad that she did not try and be friends with Jane because it was expected of her. She did not think that Jane would accept her as a friend now, but Emma would still show her attention.
However, they received word that Mr. John Knightley would be visiting the day of the party. Although Mr. Woodhouse was anxious about a ninth person being at the dinner, Emma comforted him. As it happened, Mr. Weston was called out of town on business and would not be able to attend the dinner. Mr. John Knightley talked with Jane for a while and did not pay much attention to Mrs. Elton, except to take in enough detail to relay to Isabella when he returned home. He criticizes Jane for walking in the rain to collect letters. Jane expresses the value of friendship, especially those who were not near her and probably never would be, and so she must walk to the post-office no matter what the weather is doing. Mr. John Knightley suggests that, in ten years, she will have people she cares about in her more immediate circle and will not have to keep walking to collect her letters. Jane is a little tearful and grateful to him for saying so. Mr. Woodhouse interjected then and insisted young ladies should take better care of themselves. Mrs. Elton was then interested in this conversation about Jane walking in the rain, and was upset that she was not there to take care of her. Jane insisted she had not caught a cold, but Mrs. Elton told her off for not being able to take care of herself. Mrs. Weston agreed: Jane must not take risks or she might bring her cough on again. Mrs. Elton suggests that they will get one of their servants to collect her letters to stop Jane from having to fetch them, but Jane has been told to walk outside every day. She refuses to accept Mrs. Elton’s help because she likes walking to the post-office.
Jane changes the subject slightly and talks to Mr. John Knightley about the advantages of the post-office. She is fascinated that they rarely lose a letter. The conversation then moved onto the observations of handwriting. Mr. John Knightley believed that the handwriting of a family or close relations were often the same. Isabella and Emma’s handwriting are similar, for example. Everyone, including Mr. Knightley, agreed that Emma’s handwriting was lovely. Emma praised Frank’s handwriting, then, which Mr. Knightley disagreed with—he thought Frank wrote like a woman. Emma and Mrs. Weston disagree and wish they had a sample of writing to prove it to Mr. Knightley. Mr. Knightley jokes that a man like Frank would always use his best handwriting when writing to someone like Emma.
Emma was curious that Jane had refused help fetching her letters. She suspected that Jane had received a letter that had cheered or excited her because she seemed happier. She could have asked Jane a question about the speed of the Irish post, but she decided not to in case she would hurt Jane’s feelings.
When the ladies returned to the drawing room, two parties formed. She and Mrs. Weston talked together and Mrs. Elton drew Jane away. Emma did not want to talk to Mrs. Elton and Jane was engrossed by her attention. The post office situation was talked over again, and then Mrs. Elton asked if she had heard of a governesses position yet. Jane has not made any enquiries yet because she has not fixed on a month for her to be employed. Mrs. Elton suggested that it would be more difficult if she left it so late, but Jane is well aware. Mrs. Elton does not think she is—she has seen more of the world than Jane has done. Jane wants to spend more time with Colonel and Mrs. Campbell when they return to town mid-summer, and then she will make her own enquiries. She does not want Mrs. Elton to do anything on her behalf. Mrs. Elton insists that she write to her friends, and Jane continues to refuse. She will find something when she wants to. Mrs. Elton is worried she will not find a position worthy of her talents and accuses Jane of being modest.
Later on, when the men stepped into the drawing room, Emma overheard Mrs. Elton speak to Jane about Mr. Woodhouse. She admires his old fashioned manners and politeness and wishes Jane could have heard all of the compliments she received from him during the dinner. Just then, Mr. Weston returned from his business trip out of town, and everyone was generally pleased to see him. Mr. John Knightley was amazed that he would come to Hartfield when he could be at home out of the cold and in bed. His arrival at the party would lengthen it considerably. He was happy, and after making his compliments to everyone, he gave Mrs. Weston a letter, which they had just received. He asks her to read it to Emma. It is from Frank. He will be travelling close to Highbury the following week with the rest of the family and will split his time between the two places. Mrs. Weston was happy as she should be. Emma did not know how she felt about this. Mr. Weston went around the room to tell other people the news, and finding that Mrs. Elton was not currently talking to anyone, started with her first.
Mr. Weston expressed his hope that he would be able to introduce Frank to Mrs. Elton soon. They begin a rambling conversation wherein Mrs. Elton chastises Mr. Weston for opening his wife’s letters. They discuss the distance of Enscombe to London, and although Mrs. Elton thinks it is extraordinarily far, she does not think travelling distances truly matters to people of large fortunes. Mr. Weston tells her that Mrs. Churchill had been so weak that she had been unable to move for a week. She will only stop for two days on the road. Mrs. Elton agreed with this decision—sleeping in an inn is quite horrific for many ladies. Mr. Weston does not believe Mrs. Churchill is actually ill and that she has actually grown tired of being at Enscombe instead. Mrs. Elton hopes that when Frank returns he will be pleased to find an addition to Highbury, and she suggests that he would have never heard of her. Mr. Weston indulges this call for a compliment: Mrs. Weston has often written about Mrs. Elton to Frank. While Mrs. Elton continues to fish for compliments, Mr. Weston tries to tell her about Frank’s journey and Mrs. Churchill. He is looking forward to Frank being there for the nicer weather. He adds that he hopes Mrs. Elton is aware of his past history with Mrs. Churchill and that this informs his general attitude about her. He hopes he has not treated her too poorly. Instead of commenting on Mrs. Churchill, Mrs. Elton once again brings up Maple Grove and the people she disliked there.
Thankfully, they were interrupted by tea and Mr. Weston escaped her. While some of them played cards, Mr. John Knightley went over the plans for his two oldest sons while they stayed at Hartfield. Emma promises to do everything she can to make them happy. Mr. John Knightley wonders if they will get in her way, especially considering that her social life seemed to have picked up. Emma denies that there has been a difference, but Mr. John Knightley thinks she is much more involved in Highbury society than she has ever been. Although he suggests that the boys should be sent back home if they get in the way, Mr. Knightley opposes this—he would rather the boys be sent to him. Emma denies her social life has increased—it might seem that way because of discussions of dances that never happened, but it is not true. She always has time for her nephews—much more than Mr. Knightley had because of his business.
Emma figured out why she was agitated by the news of Frank returning. It was out of embarrassment for him because her attachment to him had disappeared. If Frank’s attachment had not cooled either, there would be some awkward times ahead for her. She would need to be cautious. She wanted to keep him from declaring his feelings for her outright, but she felt like the Spring would not pass before something substantial would happen to alter her peaceful state.
When Frank finally arrived at Hartfield, Emma immediately noticed that his treatment of her had altered considerably, and he was not as in love with her has he had been before he left. He was friendly and happy as he always was. They talked about old stories from his previous visit. He was restless and could only stay for a moment to visit other friends in Highbury. Emma considered that his restlessness might be due to his disinclination to trust himself around her. This had been the only visit he made to Hartfield in ten days. He had continued to hope to come, but he was always prevented from doing so—Mrs Churchill could not spare him. Frank admitted that she was weak and sicker than she had been half a year before and needed his attention. London was not for Mrs. Churchill, and they soon heard that they would move on to Richmond.
Frank wrote to the Westons and expressed his happiness. He would be much closer to Highbury and could visit more often. Emma thought Mr. Weston expected an engagement to bring him happiness before too long. She hoped she was wrong. Another good thing about this new arrangement was the ball at the Crown. Preparation for it began again. Frank wrote from Richmond to tell them his Aunt was improved, and he would be able to join them for the ball. Mr. Woodhouse felt it was a better idea to hold the ball in May than in February and could not complain as much about it. Mrs. Bates would spend the night with Mr. Woodhouse, and he hoped that neither of the Knightley boys would need anything while Emma was out for the evening.
Nothing prevented the ball from happening this time. Frank arrived at Randalls in time for the ball, and everything was set. Emma and Frank had not had a second meeting before the ball, but Emma thought it would be best to have this meeting without a crowd around them. Mr. Weston had asked her to arrive at the Crown before anyone else to make sure everything was set, and so she had some quiet time with Frank before the ball. When she arrived other carriages of close family friends and cousins had arrived to also give their opinion on the Crown’s Inn space. Emma thought half the party might have been invited to do the same task.
Frank was curious to meet Mrs. Elton. Emma wanted to know what his first opinion of her might be. The Eltons carriage had returned to fetch Miss Bates and Jane, and at the first sign of rain, Frank went outside to help them inside. Mrs. Elton took the time to compliment Mr. Weston on his son. She did not wait long enough for Frank to be out of earshot, however. When Mrs. Elton changed the subject to that of Maple Grove, Mr. Weston suddenly remembered that there were women who needed help and hurried away. Mrs. Elton expressed her pleasure to Mrs. Weston at being able to help friends with her own carriage, and insisted that the Westons would not need to offer their own carriage again. She will always take care of them. Miss Bates arrived in the room and started to, almost without taking a breath, speak incessantly. She was pleased with everything she saw in the Crown and delighted to see everyone. She reveals that she forced Jane to wear a shawl that Mr. Dixon had chosen for her. She expressed her gratitude for Frank’s kindness in not only helping with her mother’s spectacles, but also for helping them inside the inn.
Emma and Frank stood together then and overheard Mrs. Elton and Jane talk. After Mrs. Elton gave Jane many compliments, Mrs. Elton then pushed for compliments of her own. She mentions that she had heard Frank is a fabulous dancer and intends to find out for himself. Frank started to talk loudly, then, and Emma imagined it was because he did not want to hear any more. Emma whispered to him and asked if he liked Mrs. Elton. He did not. Still in an odd mood, Frank ran off to find his father to find out when the dancing was to begin. The Westons returned to Emma—they had realized that they would have to ask Mrs. Elton to start the dancing despite them wanting to give Emma that honour. Mr. Weston wondered what they would do for a partner—she is likely to want Frank for a partner. Frank turned to Emma then and boasted that he was already taken, which Mr. Weston was pleased for. Mrs. Weston talked her husband into dancing with Mrs. Elton, which he agreed to. They started the ball and Emma and Frank danced second. Emma was sad that she had to stand second to Mrs. Elton as she had always thought of the ball as hers.
Emma was not happy with Mr. Knightley, who was not dancing and standing at the side talking. He stood out among the other men as a striking gentleman, and she guessed that he would be a graceful dancer. During the last two dances, Harriet had no partner. Neither had Mr. Elton, but Emma was sure he would not ask her to dance. He walked close to her and asked Mrs. Weston to dance. She declined on account of there being others who would make a better partner for him. She points out that Harriet has no partner and Mr. Elton changes his mind about dancing altogether. He announces he is a married man and cannot dance anymore. Mrs. Weston and Emma were shocked. Mr. Elton returned to his seat near Mr. Knightley, and he exchanged a smile with his wife. Emma looked away, and then looked back again to find Mr. Knightley leading Harriet onto the dance floor. She was grateful to him. Mr. Elton had retreated into the card room, probably because he felt foolish.
Emma had no chance to talk to Mr. Knightley until after supper, where she thanked him for his kindness to Harriet. He asked Emma why the Eltons were her enemies as he could see that they aimed to hurt more than Harriet. Emma confesses that she wanted Mr. Elton to marry Harriet, and that neither of them can forgive her for it. Emma admits she was completely wrong about Mr. Elton. Mr. Knightley had described him fairly perfectly. Mr. Knightley admits she had chosen better for him than he has chosen for himself as Harriet has more good qualities than Mrs. Elton does. Emma was grateful for his admission. Mr. Knightley wondered who Emma would dance with next. She asks him to dance, and he agrees.
Emma was glad she and Mr. Knightley had come to an understanding of the Eltons. His praise of Harriet was also welcomed. The rudeness of the Eltons had actually invited in a moment that gave Emma utter satisfaction. Harriet was suddenly able to see that Mr. Elton was not the man she thought he was. Her infatuation was over, and Emma was not afraid of it returning. She did not expect to see Frank that day, and she was not sorry for it. However, he turns up with Harriet on his arm. She is pale and faints in the hall. After a few moments, Emma discovered why she had fainted. Harriet and Miss Bickerton, who worked alongside Mrs. Goddard, had walked together and come across gypsies. A child came towards them to beg for money and Miss Bickerton screamed and ran up a steep hill to take a short cut back to Highbury. Harriet could not follow because she was still sore from dancing. Harriet was approached by half a dozen children. She gave them a shilling and asked them not to beg for anything else. She was then able to walk, but was still surrounded by the children who demanded more from her.
Frank had found her in this way and assisted her. The group were frightened by Frank and Harriet clung to him, unable to speak, and weak. He did not know where else to take her but Hartfield. Emma assured him she would take good care of him, and then he left to carry out the errands he had been meaning to complete. She would also write to Mr. Knightley about the gypsies being in the neighbourhood. Emma wondered who could have failed to see what she saw in this adventure—her imagination was on fire concerning the possible match between Harriet and Frank.
Emma wanted to keep this news from her father but within half hour the entirety of Highbury knew the story. Mr. Woodhouse discovered the news and made them promise not to go beyond the grounds again. The gypsies took off and left Highbury, and the importance of the event dwindled in people’s minds. All, that is, except for little Henry and John who continued to ask Emma to tell the story of Harriet and the gypsies.
A few days passed. Harriet visited Emma one morning with a small parcel in her hand. She admitted she had something to confess. Harriet admits that she sees nothing extraordinary in Mr. Elton now and does not care if she meets him or not. She would rather not see him, but she does not envy his wife anymore. She has brought items she wishes she had destroyed before so that she can do so in front of Emma. They are not gifts from him, but they are things she has treasured.
She shows Emma a piece of court-plaster (bandages) which she given to Mr. Elton when he cut himself on Emma’s new penknife. Emma had denied she had had any on her when it had happened, but she admits to Harriet that it was another one of her tricks. She wanted Harriet to be the one to help Mr. Elton. Emma is ashamed by the memory. She then shows him a blunted pencil which he had left on the table when he discovered there was no more lead in it. Harriet took it for herself. Harriet has nothing more to show Emma and resolves to throw the items in the fire, even if the plaster could be useful in the future. She does not want to look at them anymore. Harriet resolves that this is the end of Mr. Elton. Emma wondered when the beginning of Frank would come.
One day, when advising Harriet of what she should do when she gets married, Harriet announces that she will never marry. Emma is surprised by this change of heart and hopes it is not because of Mr. Elton. Harriet denies that it is. Emma wondered if she should push for more information because it might have hurt her, but decides it would be safer to know what is happening. She asks Harriet directly if her decision not to marry stems from her love for someone who is far superior to her and would probably never think of her. Harriet admits it is. Emma is not surprised considering the aid he gave her. Harriet admits when she saw him coming she changed from misery to happiness. Emma thinks it is natural and honourable to feel so well. She does not encourage Harriet to think she will be asked, but does not think she should throw her feelings away. She should watch him and let his behaviour to her be her guide. Emma will not speak to her again about this because she is determined to not influence her. She does not even want to know the name of the person, but knows it is Frank. Harriet kisses her hand in gratitude and Emma thinks that the attachment would be a good thing for Harriet and raise her in society.
June came to Highbury, but not much change occurred. Jane delayed her return to the Campbells by a couple of more months. That is, if she managed to avoid Mrs. Elton finding a job for her by then. Mr. Knightley, who had taken a dislike to Frank from the outset, had started to dislike him even more. He thought there was something going on. While he seemed to be doting on Emma and fixing on her as his possible partner, Mr. Knightley suspected that he had an understanding with Jane. He thought that they both admired one another. He had seen them give looks to one another which seemed out of place and suggested a secret understanding.
Mr. Knightley walked with Emma and Harriet one day and joined with Mr. and Mrs. Weston, Frank, Miss Bates and Jane who all then decided to go back to Hartfield to take tea. Everyone agreed to it. As they approached the house, Mr. Perry passed them, and Frank asked Mrs. Weston about Mr. Perry’s carriage. Mrs. Weston does not know what he is talking about, and Frank insists that she wrote to him about it. Mrs. Weston denies talking to him about Mr. Perry buying a carriage. Frank concludes he must have been dreaming about Highbury, as he often does. Mr. Weston turned to ask Emma if she was as a great a dreamer as Frank, but she had gone ahead and was already out of hearing. Miss Bates does remember, however, that there was talk of Mr. Perry buying a carriage but that the conversation was a secret one and had gone on at the Bates house. Jane was present. Mr. Knightley suspected that Frank was trying to catch Jane’s eye and watched them closely as they entered the hall.
Frank asked Emma if her nephews had put away their box of letters. He would like to play with puzzles. They started to form words for one another. Frank placed a word down for Jane and she looked at it to figure out what it was. Mr. Knightley tried to see what the word was, but could not before Jane figured it out and pushed it away. It was not mixed in with the rest of the words and Harriet looked at it to try and figure out what it was. The word was “blunder”, and Jane blushed when it was figured out. Mr. Knightley decided that there was a definite connection between Jane and Frank and continued to observe them. Frank placed a word down for Emma and on figuring out chastises him and sends it over to Jane. The word is “Dixon”. Jane looks away in disgust and blushed. She pushed away the words angrily and turned to her Aunt who immediately decided they should leave. As Jane stood, others stood with her and Mr. Knightley saw that Frank had pushed another collection of letters toward Jane.
Mr. Knightley remained at Hartfield after the rest had left and decided he would ask Emma what the last word meant. Emma brushed it away, but Mr. Knightley hoped she would tell him. However, he owed it to Emma to step in. He asked her if she understood the nature of the relationship between Frank and Jane. Mr. Knightley admits he has frequently seen looks that suggested an attachment between them. Emma was pleased that Mr. Knightley’s imagination was wandering, but Emma did not believe there was any attachment between them. She explains that there is a different set of circumstances that have led to these looks, but not for admiration. She knows that Frank is not attracted to her. This confidence in her answer silenced Mr. Knightley. Although Emma wanted to continue talking about what Mr. Knightley had seen, he was too agitated to continue and left.
Mrs. Elton was disappointed to hear that her brother-in-law and sister, Mr and Mrs. Suckling, would not be able to visit until the Autumn. It meant the delay of pleasure and of parading them around to feel her own self importance, but she was convinced with a little persuasion to explore the area around Highbury herself and not to wait for the Sucklings. She decided to go to Box Hill. Emma had never been to Box Hill before, and the Westons decided that they would go with her. She was upset to hear that Mr. Weston had proposed to Mrs. Elton that they go as one company of people. To save Mr. Weston’s feelings, Emma agreed to it even if it meant feeling the degradation of being part of Mrs. Elton’s party. While they were looking to fix the date, a horse was suddenly lame, and they did not know when the horse would be useful to them again. Mr. Knightley suggested that they should come to Donwell and eat the strawberries in his field. They would not need horses to explore Donwell. While Mrs. Elton wants to plan the party herself and invite those she would like to be there, Mr. Knightley is firm with her. Only one person could dictate to him who would be invited to Donwell and that it is the non-existent Mrs. Knightley. Mrs. Elton thought he had great humour and complimented him on it. She suggested the way that the party should be arranged, and Mr. Knightley refused to let her dictate to him, especially because he wanted to make sure Mr. Woodhouse would attend. Mr. Woodhouse would attend, as would Harriet and Emma, the Westons, the Eltons and Frank. The lame horse recovered quite quickly, so Donwell was decided for one day, and Box Hill for the following.
As soon as Emma made sure her father was sat in comfort, Emma decided to explore Donwell as it had been some time since she had been there. She enjoys the grounds and the house and respected everything she saw. Frank had yet to arrive. Mrs. Elton led them through the garden, talking loudly about the fruit. Mrs. Weston was worried about Frank. After the tour around the garden, Emma sat down in the shade and overheard Mrs. Elton and Jane talking about a governess position Mrs. Elton has managed to hear about. While Mrs. Elton wanted to establish Jane there immediately, Jane continued to protest and would not take a position until she wanted to take one. Emma felt sorry for Jane, who had to repeat herself over and over, until Jane asked Mr. Knightley to show them the entire garden.
As they walked around the garden, Mr. Knightley and Harriet walked together talking. Emma was pleased to see them together, even if it was an unusual sight. With the tour around the gardens over, they went inside the house to eat. Frank had still not arrived. Mr. Weston would not admit to his anxiety, but Mrs. Weston continued to look, worried about his horse. Mr. Weston suggested that Mrs. Churchill might have taken ill. After they had eaten, Emma opted to stay behind with her father while the rest continued to walk. It gave Mrs. Weston a break. Mr. Knightley had been kind to her father and made sure that he had endless things to distract him with. After Emma and Mr. Woodhouse looked them over together, she stepped into the hall for a moment of peace. Jane came up to her from the garden and asked her to give her apologies. She was determined to leave immediately but did not want to say anything to anyone. Emma agreed to give her goodbyes, but was not at ease with Jane walking back to Highbury by herself. Jane begs her to let her go—she wants her own way. Emma could not oppose that. Before she left, Jane exclaimed that she was comforted by solitude sometimes, and Emma felt sorry that she had to deal with so many tiresome people.
Jane had not been gone fifteen minutes when Frank stepped into the room. Mrs. Churchill had delayed him with a seizure which had lasted hours. He had come in the heat and looked worse for wear. He had an angry temper which Emma guessed was brought on by the heat. Once he had cooled down, his manners returned and was able to engage them in conversation. They were looking at pictures of Switzerland. Frank announces that he will go abroad as soon as his Aunt is well. Emma does not believe his Aunt and Uncle will ever let him leave England. Frank thinks that they will come with him as his Aunt is meant to stick to a warmer climate. He is tired of doing nothing and is sick of England. Emma asks him to come with them to Box Hill the next day—it might not be Switzerland, but it will be a change from the regular pace of life. Frank does not want to—he will leave Donwell that evening and not return. He worries about being angry and spoiling the mood, but he will be angry if they are all at Box Hill without him. Emma tells him to decide for himself.
As everyone parted, Frank expressed his decision to stay and go with them to Box Hill the following day.
The weather was good for their visit to Box Hill, and it was generally agreed and expected that they would have a nice party. However, the party split up—the Eltons walked together, Mr. Knightley with Miss Bates and Jane, and Emma and Harriet with Frank. Mr. Weston tried to bring them all together, but it never quite happened. The Eltons did not want to be friendly. Emma was bored. Frank was silent, and when he did speak said nothing worth hearing. Harriet was the same, and Emma was tired of them both. When they sat down, Frank became more talkative and made sure to amuse Emma. Although they flirted, Emma only did this because she was disappointed by the party and only thought of him as her friend. Frank thanks her for persuading him to come to Box Hill. Emma mentions his temper the previous day, which Frank does not really understand. He was hot, not angry. Emma suggests that he was not himself, and now he is back under control. Frank suggests that she means her control, but Emma insists that they are not together all the time. It can only be his control. Frank questions this logic—they’ve been together since February. Emma suggests that he stop talking in this way as the rest of the party can hear them. Frank is not ashamed by what he has to say. He decides they should get the rest of the people to talk and pretends that Emma has asked him to order them to tell her what she is thinking about. Mr. Knightley asks if Emma seriously wants to know, and she denies it. She really does not want to know what they have to think. Mrs. Elton takes Frank’s interest in Emma as an insult—she thinks of herself as the Chaperone and organizer of the party, not Emma.
Frank decides to push for further conversation by asking for one clever thing, two moderately clever or three dull things from each person. Miss Bates decides to aim for three dull things, and Emma teases her by telling her she has to keep to the certain number. Miss Bates blushed when she understood the insult and confided in Mr. Knightley that she did not know what she had done to be treated so poorly. Mr. Weston asks Emma what two letters of the alphabet express perfection. He tells them that these are M and A—Em and Ma. While Emma and a few others are entertained by this, Mr. Knightley looked quite sad—no one would be able to combat Mr. Weston’s entertainment. Mrs. Elton does not even approve of the game itself—she believes it is more suited to Christmas around the fire. She tells Frank to pass herself, Mr. Elton, Knightley and Jane as they have nothing to say. Mr. Elton agrees—there is nothing that can entertain a young lady when it comes from an old married man. The Eltons leave for a walk. Frank comments that having known each other for only a few weeks in Bath, they are particularly suited. He goes on to say that it is difficult to know a woman until they are seen within their own homes and neighbourhoods. It is often that a man has committed to a woman after a short friendship and done poorly. Jane admits that it happens, but not as often as Frank suggests. There would be time to recover from it afterwards. Frank does not think he has good judgement and suggests he will have to have his future bride chosen for him. He asks if Emma would choose a wife for him, take her under her wing and make her like herself. Frank will go abroad for a few years and then return for his wife. She secretly thought that it was Harriet whom Frank suggested she should make more like herself.
After another walk, the party waited for their carriages. Mr. Knightley found a moment to speak to Emma quietly and asked why she was so unkind to Miss Bates. Emma laughed it off and suggested Miss Bates did not understand her. Mr. Knightley assured her she understood and has talked of nothing since. She was generous to Emma in her discussions. Emma thought she was a good person, but a ridiculous one. Mr. Knightley does not disagree with this, but implores Emma to think. Miss Bates is poor, and her situation in life should secure Emma’s compassion. To laugh at her and humble her in front of her niece and others who might be guided by Emma’s treatment of her was in poor show. Emma has never felt so ashamed and upset in her entire life. She could not disagree with anything Mr. Knightley had said, and did not know how she could have been so cruel to Miss Bates. Emma cried all the way home.
Emma looked back on Box Hill as a morning not well spent. She imagined that the others would be having their own particular opinions about the morning themselves. She spent the evening playing games with her father, which was time well spent and a pleasure to her. She was giving up her hours to the comfort of her father, and hoped that she was not without heart in their relationship. Emma hoped that Miss Bates would forgive her. She would visit her the next morning and attempt to start up a more equal and kinder friendship.
The following morning she went early to stop anything from preventing her. She would not be ashamed by going. When she arrived there was a rush to move Jane, who Emma caught a glimpse of and thought she looked quite sick. Mrs. Bates admitted that Jane was quite unwell, but they would only tell her otherwise. Miss Bates stepped into the room, and although she greeted Emma with her usual cheerfulness, Emma could tell there was a lack of feeling in it. She asked after Jane, which Emma hoped would lead them to their old ways. Miss Bates reveals that a position has been found for Jane which she has accepted. Jane is depressed by it, and Miss Bates sent her to bed. Jane did not want to see anyone, but she was sorry to miss Emma. Emma was terribly sorry for Jane—she had grown interested in her lately because of her increasing kindness to Jane, and she understood Jane’s wish to not see anyone. Miss Bates said, then, that Emma was always too kind, and Emma could not stand it. She asked where Jane would be going. She is off to Mrs. Smallridge’s, which is only four miles away from Maple Grove. Emma understood that Mrs. Elton had been the one to arrange it all. Miss Bates revealed that Mrs. Elton would not take a single one of Jane’s objections and did not write her denial to Mrs. Smallridge. The previous evening, Jane had taken Mrs. Elton aside and announced that she had decided to accept. Emma asked if she spent the entire evening with the Eltons—Miss Bates admitted she had been invited back with everyone else at Box Hill. Mr. Knightley refused to go, but Miss Bates, Jane and Mrs. Bates all attended. Emma suggested that Jane had been trying to make up her mind the entire day. Miss Bates agreed. Emma asked when Jane was set to leave. She would leave within two weeks as Mrs. Smallridge is in a hurry for a governess. Miss Bates reveals that Mr. Elton had heard a carriage was sent to Randalls to take Frank to Richmond. Emma did not have a chance to say that she had not heard this news, but as Miss Bates did not know anything else, it wasn’t important to say so. Frank had received a letter from Mr. Churchill telling his nephew not to rush back as Mrs. Churchill was doing fairly well, but Frank decided to go home immediately. Emma did not know what to think about this sudden change in behaviour and kept quiet until Miss Bates thought she was thinking of the pianoforte. Jane will leave it behind until Colonel Campbell comes back and deals with it himself. The discussion of the pianoforte only reminded Emma of her past tricks and amusements until she decided she had to leave. Emma gave her good wishes and then left.
On returning to Hartfield, Emma found Mr. Knightley and Harriet had arrived and were sitting with Mr. Woodhouse. Mr. Knightley immediately stood and said goodbye. He was going to London to spend time with John and Isabella. Emma did not think Mr. Knightley had forgiven her as he was not acting like himself. She thought with time they would return to normal. Mr. Woodhouse asked after Emma’s visit to the Bates’ and thinks that she was kind to them. Emma blushed and shook her head. Mr. Knightley looked at her then with respect, and Emma was grateful for it. Mr. Knightley took her hand and was about to carry it to his lips when he suddenly dropped it. Emma did not know what made him change his mind. He then left.
Emma wished she had left the Bates house ten minutes earlier so that she could have discussed Jane’s news and situation with Mr. Knightley. She also would have preferred having more notice of Mr. Knightley’s journey. She distracted her father from worrying about Mr. Knightley on horseback with news of Jane’s position. Mr. Woodhouse was darned glad she had a job.
The following day, they received news that Mrs. Churchill had died. Although Frank had not had need to hurry back, she had not lasted more than 36 hours after he returned. Of course, everyone felt sorry that she had died despite being disliked for 25 years. Now that she had died, everyone admitted that she must have been quite ill after all. Emma wondered how this might affect Frank—how it would free him. He could now marry Harriet without any issues, but Emma was not certain that the attachment would be formed. Harriet behaved herself—if she had any brighter hopes, she did not reveal them. Emma was pleased that she was much stronger in character now than she had been. Randalls received short letters from Frank detailing the plans they had. After the funeral, Mr. Churchill and Frank would go to a friend’s house in Windsor.
Emma found her concerns moving from Harriet to Jane, who Emma wanted to show kindness to. She regretted her coldness to Jane in the past and wanted to be useful to her. She wrote a letter inviting Jane to Hartfield for a day, but Jane did not reply. Mr. Perry relayed a verbal message to them that Jane was too unwell to write. He doubted that she would be able to leave for Mrs. Smallridge’s when she was meant to do so as her health was bad. Mr. Perry was worried about Jane’s current living conditions with her tiresome family and the single room. Emma sent her another note to offer to call on Jane whenever she wanted to take some exercise. Emma received a note telling her that Jane was not able to exercise. Emma felt she deserved a little more than this short statement, but could not feel that bad about it. She ordered the carriage and went down to the Bates house to see if Jane could be enticed outside, but Miss Bates came to the door and admitted she had tried, but Jane would not come out, and would not accept any visitors. Mrs. Elton, Mrs. Cole and Mr. Perry had all forced their way in and had visited, but Emma did not want to be compared with them. She only asked Miss Bates if she might be able to help with Jane’s appetite.
Emma returned to Hartfield and asked for some arrow-root to be sent to Miss Bates for Jane. It was returned half hour later with a note explaining that Jane did not want anything. Emma heard that that afternoon Jane had been walking in the meadows. This was more than enough evidence that Jane did not want Emma’s help at all. She was sorry for this and felt powerless. The only consoling feeling was that she knew her intentions were good ones, and at least Mr. Knightley would have been proud of her.
One morning Emma was called downstairs by Mr. Weston who needed to talk to her immediately. Mrs. Weston needed to see her and wanted her to come to Randalls alone. Emma pushed for more information as to what was wrong, but Mr. Weston assured her she would know in time. After checking in with Mr. Woodhouse, she left with Mr. Weston. Emma demanded to know what was happening and was terrified that something bad had happened to someone they know. Mr. Weston will not tell her, but assures her it is nothing connected with anyone named Knightley. He reveals that Frank had visited that morning and was on his way to Windsor—Emma would not be able to see him.
Once she arrived, Mr. Weston left the two women by themselves. Emma was anxious as Mrs. Weston looked ill. Mrs. Weston wondered if Emma had any idea who the news concerned. Emma guessed it had to do with Frank, and she is correct. He came to Randalls that morning to announce his engagement to Jane Fairfax and to reveal he had been engaged to her for a long time. Emma was surprised by the news, but Mrs. Weston assured her it was the truth. They had been engaged since they spent time together at Weymouth and had kept it a secret from everyone. Mrs. Weston thought she knew him. Emma thought about her previous conversations with Jane, and also about poor Harriet. Mrs. Weston admits it has hurt them both. Emma thought for a moment and then told her that he had not revealed his intentions toward Emma, if that was what they were afraid of. There was, she admitted, a small amount of time where she was interested in him, but this left her after a moment. She cares nothing for him. Mrs. Weston is struck with joy immediately—she is relieved. They had hoped that Emma and Frank would be engaged and were upset to think what Emma would feel when she heard the news. However, Emma agrees that Frank’s behaviour could not be excused. He came to Highbury and endeavoured to please Emma—how would he know if Emma had fallen in love with him or not. She did not know how Jane stomached Frank’s behaviour either. She could not respect him for that. Mrs. Weston admitted that there had been some misunderstandings between them because of Frank’s behaviour. Emma suddenly remembers that Jane is meant to go to Mrs. Smallridge’s. Mrs. Weston assures her Frank had no idea that Jane had agreed to go. The discovery of this decision is what forced him to come forward and announce the engagement. He promised before he left, to write to Mrs. Weston and to detail everything that had happened, which may excuse some of his past behaviour. She asks for Emma’s patience.
Emma wondered if the Dixons or Campbells knew of the engagement. Frank told her that only they knew about their agreement. Although Emma hopes they will be happy, she will not be able to forgive Frank for his deceit. Mr. Weston appeared, then, and Emma congratulated him on the news. He realized that everything was fine with Emma. He was happy immediately. When he walked her back to Hartfield, he even admitted that it was probably one of the best things Frank could have done.
Emma was sorry to think of poor Harriet, and could not stop thinking about her. She could not forgive Frank for his behaviour, and she could also not forgive herself. To find Harriet deceived a second time because of her own misconceptions was a horrid business. She believed in what Mr. Knightley had said when he told her she was no friend to Harriet. Although she had not constructed and built up Harriet’s love as she did in the first instance, she should have repressed Harriet’s interest in Frank when she first admitted to it.
When Emma heard Harriet’s footsteps coming she was as anxious about them as she imagined Mrs. Weston had been when Emma was approaching Randalls. Harriet had already heard the news from Mr. Weston and thought it was odd news. Harriet was not upset or disappointed. Emma did not know what to say to her. Harriet wondered if Emma knew about the engagement, or their being in love, and decides that she must have as she usually knows what is going on. Emma cannot imagine why she would encourage Harriet in her feelings if she knew Frank was in love with Jane. Harriet did not understand—she was not in love with Frank. Emma did not understand. Harriet was upset that she had been misunderstood—how could Emma have thought she meant Frank when there were more superior people to look at. Emma then wondered if it was Mr. Knightley who she was in love with. Harriet is—she thought she had been as clear as possible. Emma admitted that everything Harriet had said seemed to point to Frank after she had been rescued from the gypsies. Harriet suddenly realizes that what she said could have been interpreted in two ways—she had meant that Mr. Knightley had done her a great service and made her happy. Although Emma cannot speak, Harriet asserts that crazier engagements had taken place, and that if Mr. Knightley certainly did want to marry her Emma should not get in her way. Emma wondered if she had received any hint as to Mr. Knightley’s affection and Harriet asserted she had. Emma wondered to herself why it was worse for Harriet to be in love with Mr. Knightley than with Frank. She suddenly realized that she did not want anyone else to marry Mr. Knightley but herself.
She also saw how inconsiderately she had treated Harriet and then asked her for proof of Mr. Knightley’s affection for her. From the time they had danced together, Mr. Knightley had spoken more to her in kindness, and wanted to be acquainted with her. Emma had observed this. He praised Harriet for having gentle and honest feelings, which Emma had heard herself. Some others Emma did not believe were exact pieces of evidence for Mr. Knightley’s feelings. When they were at Donwell, Mr. Knightley had drawn her away from the crowd and appeared to be asking her if her affections were engaged. When Emma had joined them, he had changed the subject. When Mr. Knightley had decided to leave for London, he had confided in Harriet that he would rather not have gone, which was much more than he had said to Emma. Emma wondered if he was actually trying to figure out if Harriet was still in love with Mr. Martin. Harriet denies it—she knows not to care for Mr. Martin now, or to be suspected of loving him. Harriet thanked Emma for her good advice—she was told to observe his behaviour for evidence of his feelings for her, which she had done. Harriet feels that she deserves him. On hearing Mr. Woodhouse’s footsteps, Harriet excused herself. She was much too agitated to be near him. Emma wished she had never set eyes on her before.
Emma tried to sort through her feelings and everything that had happened in the last day. Her first aim was to understand her own heart. She wondered when she had considered him so dear to her. There had not been any time when she had not loved Mr. Knightley, and figured out that she had never truly loved Frank at all. It did not take her long to figure this out, and she was ashamed of all of her feelings except for her love for Mr. Knightley. She had been mistaken at every turn where other people’s feelings were concerned. She wished that she had never pushed Harriet forward and hoped that Mr. Knightley would not debase himself by marrying someone as common as her. She wished she had not persuaded her against marrying Mr. Martin and taken up company with the people she belonged to. If she had not done this, Harriet would not presume to think of Mr. Knightley as being in love with her. Emma had taught her this. Harriet had lost her sense of humility because of Emma.
Only now that she was threatened by the loss of it was Emma aware how much of her happiness depended on being considered first by Mr. Knightley. She had been first in his estimation for a long time and had taken it for granted. She had not deserved it, either, but he had loved her since she was a child. While Harriet was convinced of Mr. Knightley’s affection for her, Emma doubted that Mr. Knightley felt love for Emma. He had been so shocked by her treatment of Miss Bates. She could not deceive herself as she hoped Harriet was doing. If Mr. Knightley never married at all, Emma would be satisfied. She wanted him to continue on in the same way that they had been if Mr. Knightley would not marry her. She did not believe she would marry even if Mr. Knightley asked her. It would remove her from her father and she owed him her care.
Emma hoped that the next time she saw Harriet and Mr. Knightley together that she would be able to figure out what the chances of Harriet being disappointed were. She decided not to see Harriet as it would do neither of them any good. She wrote to her and asked her not to come to Hartfield so that they could avoid conversation of the topic they should avoid. They could meet if there were a group of people around, but only if they acted as if they had not talked about Mr. Knightley. Harriet approved.
Mrs. Weston stopped by Hartfield after visiting the Bates house even though she had not wanted to until everything was settled with Frank. Mr. Weston persuaded her into going. Jane had hardly spoken a word, and she was visibly suffering. Mrs. Weston asked Jane to come with her for a drive in the carriage, during which Mrs. Weston was able to break through some of Jane’s embarrassment and ask her about Frank. They talked a lot about the past and future possibility of the engagement, and Mrs. Weston was sure this was helpful to Jane. Jane blames herself for the engagement and dreads Colonel Campbell hearing about it. It was her love for Frank that overthrew her reason and logic as she had not been brought up to act as she had done so. Emma was afraid that she had caused Jane suffering, but Mrs. Weston knew she did not do it on purpose. Jane sends her many thanks for her continued interest and affection when she was sick. Emma wishes she could do more for her and wishes that she will be happy in marriage. Mrs. Weston reveals that she has not yet received the letter Frank promised he would send.
Emma keenly felt the shame associated with her past treatment of Jane. Had she sought a friend in Jane rather than in Harriet she might have been spared the pain she felt now. That night she thought of the end of Mr. Knightley’s visits to Hartfield which usually brought them happiness, especially on nights of bad weather. She looked ahead to the coming winter with regret—if everything happened as it might, she would lose most of her friends. Hartfield would be empty. When the Westons had a child, they would not see them often. Frank and Jane would cease to belong to Highbury. Mr. Knightley would no longer visit Hartfield at nights. If Mr. Knightley was to marry Harriet, it would double Emma’s pain for she would be well aware that it was her own doing. The only peaceful thought Emma had was that she might act better in the future and find a more rational self. Hopefully she would regret her actions far less in this instance.
With the change in the weather for the better, Emma decides to go outside as much as possible. She goes for a walk around the gardens. Mr. Knightley comes out into the garden to join her, which surprises her for she thought he was still in London. They exchanged general comments, and Emma asked after John and Isabella. She thought he seemed quite serious, and considered he might have told his brother about his plan to marry Harriet and had not received a good response. She also considered he might be trying to build his courage—he might be about to tell her about his engagement to Harriet. Emma could not encourage the subject—he had to do this by himself. Emma starts to tell him about Jane and Frank’s engagement, but Mr. Knightley has already heard of it. Mr. Weston told him. Emma was relieved the news had not come from Mrs Goddard or Harriet. Emma remembered that Mr. Knightley had once tried to warn her, but admits she is probably doomed to be blind. Mr. Knightley tells her that time will heal her wound, but Emma insists he is mistaken. Although she said things that made her ashamed, she has no other reason to regret Frank and Jane’s engagement. Mr. Knightley is overjoyed. She had been tempted by his attentions and allowed herself to seem pleased, but she has never been attached to him. She does not understand his behaviour as he never intended to be attached to her. Mr. Knightley had never had a high opinion of Frank but for Jane’s sake he wished them both well. Emma thinks they are mutually attracted and should be happy. Mr. Knightley is jealous of Frank’s engagement to Jane and that despite his behaviour everyone has forgiven him.
Emma refuses to ask why Mr. Knightley is jealous of Frank, and as he starts to explain, Emma tells him not to say anything. She changes her mind and tells him that if he has anything to say, he should say it. She is his friend and will tell him exactly what she thinks of what he has to say. Mr. Knightley wondered if he would ever succeed with her. Mr. Knightley admits that he could not love her more. Emma could not think—she saw that Harriet’s hopes had been mistaken and that she was pleased she had not revealed Harriet’s secret. He admits he had not aimed at asking her to marry him, but was so delighted in her indifference toward Frank that he could not help but hope. Both of them had changed in mood to a state of happiness. It had been Mr. Knightley’s jealousy that had sent him away from Box Hill and to London. However, the domestic bliss of his brother and Isabella had not given him peace but had reminded him of Emma. The news of Jane and Frank’s engagement gave him hope, then, and he had ridden home in the rain to find out how Emma felt about the news. By the time they went into the house, they were engaged to be married.
Emma was surprised by the change in her feelings in such a short space of time. Mr. Woodhouse did not suspect what was going on between them. Emma decided that night that while her father still lived, her engagement to Mr. Knightley would remain just that. She could not leave him. She would also try to spare Harriet as much pain as she could, but did not know how. She would avoid a meeting with her and then send her a letter to explain everything that had happened. It would be desirable for Harriet to leave Highbury for a while and Emma decided that she should go to Brunswick Square.
The next morning Emma wrote her letter to Harriet but was interrupted by the arrival of Mr. Knightley who sent her into happiness again. When he left, and before Emma could get back to her letter, she received a letter from Randalls which contained Frank’s letter to Mrs. Weston. It details his need to keep the engagement a secret because of the situation at Enscombe. If he had not been engaged to Jane, he would have gone mad. Frank then discusses his treatment of Emma. He pretended to feel more for Emma than he did, but would not have done so had he not been convinced that she did not feel anything for him. It appeared as if they understood one another, and that suited Frank. When he came to Hartfield and was about to tell her the truth, he felt Emma had figured out a part or the whole of his secret. Emma frequently hinted at her knowledge, such as when she insisted he owed Mrs. Elton gratitude for the way Jane was treated. The pianoforte had come from Frank and had Jane known about it she would not have allowed it to be sent to her. He explains that he and Jane argued the morning of the Donwell party and that it chiefly concerned Frank’s behaviour towards Emma. Frank regretted how much pain he had caused Jane, and left for Richmond, convinced that she had grown cold towards him. Jane sent him a letter to break off the engagement, but he received it the morning his Aunt had died and had not had time to send a reply. He received a parcel at Windsor, which contained all of his letters to her and a small note from Jane to express her surprise that she had not received a reply. She encouraged him to send her letters to him to Mrs. Smallridge’s where she would be governess. Frank was angry with himself for his mistakes and regretted how ill he had made her. They managed to reconcile their feelings and save the engagement, and Frank is sure nothing will ever come between them again. He thanks Mrs. Weston for her kindness and hopes that she will be able to forgive him.
Although Emma felt Frank had been wrong on several accounts, he had done it because he was so in love with Jane. She forgave him for his conduct. She thought the letter was so good that when Mr. Knightley returned, she asked him to read it. Although Mr. Knightley thought the letter was long, he had to read it then and there as Emma had to return it to Mr. Weston that evening. Mr. Knightley gives his opinion as he reads the letter. At first he does not seem to care much for Frank’s words, but when he reaches the point where Frank regrets his behaviour, Mr. Knightley agrees and is impressed with his admission. Emma does not think he is as satisfied with the letter as she is, but Mr. Knightley thinks a little better of him, especially as he is very much in love with Jane.
Mr. Knightley changes the subject, then. He has been thinking of how to ask her to marry him without harming her father. Emma announced that she could never leave her father while he was still alive. He had hoped to entice Mr. Woodhouse to move to Donwell with her, but he suggested instead that he should move to Hartfield so that neither of them would have to leave. This theory had not occurred to Emma, who felt Mr. Knightley would be sacrificing a great deal by leaving Donwell and his own habits. The more Emma thought of the plan, however, the more she liked it. She would have been even happier had it not been for her thoughts about Harriet. Mr. Knightley would be forgotten by her eventually, but he would not be able to help her along with his considerate nature.
Emma was pleased to discover Harriet wanted to avoid a meeting, as well. There was a resentment to her letter despite her good natured response, and this only increased Emma’s desire for them to be separated. She managed to acquire an invitation to Brunswick for Harriet. Harriet had wanted to see a dentist for a while, so it was fortunate that she would be off to London. Isabella was keen to help anyone with their health, and was eager to have Harriet in her care. Harriet was to go for at least a fortnight. Now Emma could enjoy Mr. Knightley’s visits and be truly happy without feeling guilty. She still had to admit to her engagement to her father, but she did not want to do this until Mrs. Weston had given birth and was well.
Emma decided to call on Jane and see how she was doing. That she was also secretly interested in what was happening, was an additional benefit to the visit. She had not been in the house since the morning after Box Hill, and the fear of still being unwelcomed by Jane was in Emma’s thoughts as she was driven down there. Jane met her on the stairs, and Emma had never seen her look so lovely. Jane offered her hand and expressed her thanks for Emma’s kindness. Whereas Miss Bates was out, Mrs. Elton was in. Emma wished Mrs. Elton had not been present either, but decided she would have to have patience. Mrs. Elton folded up a letter and smiled with the knowledge of a secret she was keeping between herself and Jane. That everyone else knew the secret was not apparent to Mrs. Elton. She told Jane that Mrs. S. had accepted their apology and was not offended by Jane’s inability to become the governess at her house. Although Mrs. Elton had not named names, Emma knew exactly what she was talking about. After praising Mr. Perry’s efforts in returning Jane to her former healthier state, Mrs. Elton whispered that she would not mention the Doctor from Windsor who had helped.
Jane asked Emma if she would be willing to attend Box Hill again with the same visitors to try and recreate a happier memory there. Miss Bates stepped in then and did not know what to say—she was trying to keep the engagement a secret, and failing miserably. Mrs. Elton is waiting for her husband to finish a meeting at the Crown with Mr. Knightley, but Emma is sure the meeting was not supposed to be until the next day. Mrs. Elton denies mistaking the day—she believes that the parish at Highbury is troublesome and that they never had these problems at Maple Grove. Jane suggests this is because it was small. Mrs. Elton had never heard such a thing. Jane suggests that it should be small considering the size of the school which Mrs. Elton had previously mentioned. Mrs. Elton compliments her on her intelligence.
Mr. Elton arrived then and was sorry to have missed Mr. Knightley at Donwell for their meeting. He could not find him even though he had sent him a letter asking him if he would be home that day. Mrs. Elton corrects him—surely he means at the Crown. Mr. Elton tells her this is a different meeting, and that no one at Donwell had expected him. Emma had no explanations to give. Mrs. Elton could not believe that Mr. Knightley would do this to him—a man who should have been the last person to have been forgotten. Mrs. Elton blames Mr. Knightley’s servants for forgetting. Emma decided to leave then, as she assumed Mr. Knightley would be waiting for her at Hartfield. Jane took his moment to walk with her down the stairs. Emma tells her she would have talked about the engagement but did not want to be impolite. Jane is grateful for her interest and starts to give her apologies for being ungrateful. Emma refuses to hear them—Jane owes her nothing. Both of them apologize for their reserved and cold nature toward one another. Jane reveals she will be living with Mr. Churchill at Enscombe in three months time after the mourning period is over. Emma wishes her well and expresses her love for things that are out in the open.
Mrs. Weston safely gives birth to a little girl. Emma refused her initial desire to make a match between the girl and one of Isabella’s sons, but was glad the Westons had a girl. It seemed to suit them. Mr. Knightley is sure that Mrs. Weston will dote on and spoil the girl as much as she did for Emma. Emma jokingly wonders what will become of her. Mr. Knightley assures her she will correct herself as she grows older. Emma believes it was because of Mr. Knightley’s help that she corrected herself, but he believes he did her more harm than good. They remember their past—how challenging Emma had been, and how she had always called him Mr. Knightley. Mr. Knightley wondered if she would not call him George, instead. Emma cannot. She will call him George, but she cannot say when out loud—only when “N. takes M.”, i.e. when they marry. Emma wishes that she could talk to Mr. Knightley about Harriet and wondered why he did not comment on their waning friendship. Isabella had sent letters to Emma to keep her informed about Harriet. She had been quite depressed when she had arrived, but Isabella explained this away because of her impending visit to the dentist. After that, she had become her old self again. Emma was pleased to hear that Harriet would be staying for a month instead of just two weeks. Isabella and John would return with her in August.
John had sent Mr. Knightley a letter congratulating him and Emma on the engagement. Emma believes he has suggested that she will, in time, grow worthy of Mr. Knightley’s love. They both consider that they had hoped their family would see the engagement as equal on both sides. John admits he had an idea that his brother was in love with Emma and was not surprised to hear about the engagement. Emma thinks he was not so aware of who his feelings were for. Now that Mrs. Weston was able to receive visitors, Emma had to announce her engagement to Mr. Woodhouse. She did not know how she would do it, but she had to. She made sure to speak cheerfully so that Mr. Woodhouse would not be upset. It was a shock to him, at first, especially as Emma had always said she would never marry. She insisted that it would not be like Mrs. Weston and Isabella because Emma would not leave Hartfield. She knew he loved Mr. Knightley a lot—he was useful and cheerful. The worst of it was done, and their acquaintances and friends helped persuade Mr. Woodhouse that the engagement was a good thing. Eventually, he believed it would be a happy occasion, and that it might not be bad if they had the wedding in the next year or two. Mrs. Weston had been surprised, but was very happy for the announcement.
From here, the news spread. It was a generally approved match. Some disagreed as to where the couple should live, or who was the more fortunate of the couple, but on the whole there were no serious objections made aside from in the Vicarage. Mr. Elton did not care for it. Mrs. Elton felt sorry for Mr. Knightley and did not think he was in love with Emma at all.
The party from London was soon to arrive, and the news agitated Emma. Mr. Knightley came into the room and told her that Harriet Smith was engaged to Mr. Martin. Emma was surprised, but Mr. Knightley had heard the news from Mr. Martin himself. He is afraid that Emma does not like the news at all, as he feared, but suggests that time will bring her around. Emma exclaims that Mr. Knightley has mistaken her silence—she is just surprised he asked her again. It does not make her unhappy. Mr. Knightley reveals how it happened: Mr. Knightley asked Mr. Martin to deliver some papers to John and was asked to join a party which Harriet had attended. He then dined with them the following day and during this visit found an opportunity to ask Harriet. Mr. Knightley thought Mr. Martin was very happy. He knows that this engagement cannot bring Emma happiness, but in reality she is only trying to hide how happy she was. Emma admits that Harriet has done well, but is surprised as she had reason to believe Harriet was quite against him. Mr. Knightley did not think that Harriet could refuse a man who dearly loved her, and Emma had to laugh at this.
Mr. Knightley is surprised at how much Emma’s opinion has changed on this matter. Emma admits that she was a bit of a fool where it was concerned. Mr. Knightley admitted he has changed where his opinion of Harriet was concerned, too. He had made great efforts to talk to her and get to know her a bit better. He considered that Emma probably thought he was pleading Mr. Martin’s case, but he only wishes Harriet the best. She has excellent principles and good notions, which have secured her happiness. Mr. Knightley believes that Emma is to thank for this, and Emma cannot feel she deserves this praise.
There would now be pleasure and happiness in Harriet’s return, especially as it meant not having to hide anything from Mr. Knightley anymore. On visiting Randalls, they find that Frank and Jane are visiting. Emma and Frank meet for the first time in a long time. He thanks her for forgiving him, and Emma expresses her pleasure at being able to share in his joy for his engagement. They joke about their past tricks with the name Dixon, and Frank shares his surprise that Emma never suspected he and Jane were engaged. He wonders if Emma has pity for them not having met since the day they reestablished their engagement, and Emma does. Frank had endless compliments for the health Jane now had. Emma reminds him of the day he commented that he did not like her complexion. They laugh at this. Emma accuses him of being very amused by his trickery. Frank denies this—he was very depressed by it. Emma compares their behaviour—they are both prone to finding amusement in odd places. They are also to marry two people superior to them. Frank does not think Emma has a superior, but agrees on account of Jane. They are very pleased to have seen each other again. As Emma left Randalls, she was very pleased to have seen Frank again—not only because it meant their friendship was reestablished, but because she was now sure Mr. Knightley was the more superior of the two.
In a few days, Isabella, John and Harriet arrived from London. After an hour alone with Harriet, Emma was satisfied that he feelings for Mr. Knightley were gone and replaced for those for Mr. Martin. Harriet was a little ashamed for the past, but Emma had immediately soothed these feelings by congratulating her on her engagement. Harriet was then very pleased to give her all of the details of the engagement itself. It suggested to Emma that Harriet had always loved Mr. Martin.
They discovered Harriet’s origins: she was the daughter of a tradesman, not of a gentleman as Emma had sworn. Her low rank would have been a blight on a marriage to the Knightly, Churchill or Elton family. Emma accepted Mr. Martin at Hartfield and approved him as a good match for Harriet. Although Harriet would be among people she belonged with and who loved her, it would mean less visits to Hartfield. It was, Emma thought, for the best. Harriet was married to Mr. Martin before the end of September and were the first of the three couples to be so. Jane Fairfax had already left Highbury and had returned to live the Campbells. Frank and Mr. Churchill were in town, and the couple were waiting until November. Emma and Mr. Knightley had decided to have their marriage while John and Isabella were still at Hartfield so they could go away for two weeks to tour the seaside. Mr. Woodhouse was miserable when he heard of the plan, and Emma could not bear to see him suffering.
When Mrs. Weston’s turkeys were stolen one night, Mr. Woodhouse grew scared of Hartfield being broken into and wanted either John or Mr. Knightley to be at Hartfield to protect him. John had to be back in London by November, and so Emma was allowed to decide on the date for her wedding. The wedding itself is far too modest for Mrs. Elton, but all those present wished them well.
David takes charge of transporting Steerforth’s body back to London—Steerforth’s body was carried to the same cottage that currently housed Ham’s body, but once they got him there, it seemed wrong to the carriers to have him under the same roof, so they brought him to the inn. The body didn’t remain there long. Knowing he was the only one who could break the news to Steerforth’s mother, David wasted no time getting an appropriate means of transport from Joram’s, and he set out for London that night at around midnight. Even at that hour, contrary to expectation, groups of townspeople waited to watch them leave.
David arrives at the Steerforth home, which looks shut down—David arrived in Highgate the next day. Leaving the carriage driver with orders to wait for further instructions, he walked the rest of the way to the Steerforth home. The parlor maid who answered the door could see immediately that something was wrong. She asked David whether he was ill, but he replied that he was just tired and distraught. As he sat in the drawing room waiting for the maid to return from announcing his arrival, David noticed that the house had a dismal, shut-down look. The harp hadn’t been played in a while, and he learned from the maid that Mrs. Steerforth never left her room anymore. She had taken to living in her son’s room, probably out of loneliness over his absence.
Miss Dartle quickly loses her composure—After the usual greeting and introductory conversation, David tried to break the news to Mrs. Steerforth as gently as possible, but Miss Dartle caught on quickly and lost her composure. She began to rail on Mrs. Steerforth and David, too, when he tried to calm her down or berate her for her lack of compassion. In Miss Dartle’s mind, no one loved Steerforth more than she had. She would have been his devoted, self-sacrificing wife if she had had the chance. Instead, she received a scar on her lip that marred her face for life. In her view, Mrs. Steerforth had ruined him, encouraging his faults and discouraging whatever was good in him. As far as she was concerned, the mother had gotten what she deserved.
Mrs. Steerforth becomes nonfunctional on hearing the news—Throughout this diatribe, Miss Dartle showed no compassion and a good deal of contempt and mockery of Steerforth’s mother. But it almost didn’t matter. Once the mother realized what had happened, she lapsed into a semi-catatonic state, with an occasional moan being the only sign that she was alive.
Miss Dartle finally expresses compassion for Mrs. Steerforth—David was concerned that Miss Dartle would remain in her relentlessly cruel mode, but just before he left, she drastically changed her manner and began showing affection and concern for Mrs. Steerforth. Still, all Mrs. Steerforth could do was stare into space with a fixed look and moan. As David left the room, he was followed by Miss Dartle’s curses.
Steerforth’s body is returned home; David says his last farewell to his friend—David returned later that day with Steerforth’s body. Mrs. Steerforth was still in catatonic mode, despite multiple attempts by the doctors to help her. She and Miss Dartle hadn’t left Steerforth’s room, so David and those who helped to carry the body laid it on Mrs. Steerforth’s own bed. Before leaving the house, David closed all the curtains and shades, leaving the room with Steerforth for last. In a final act of farewell to his friend, he took Steerforth’s motionless hand and placed it against his heart.
David takes steps to prevent Mr. Peggotty and Emily from learning about Ham and Steerforth–David was determined not to let word of Ham’s and Steerforth’s deaths get back to his emigrant friends, so he told no one, with the exception of Traddles and Mr. Micawber, whose help he enlisted. Mr. Micawber’s job, which he took on with great flourish and enthusiasm, was to prevent Mr. Peggotty from seeing a newspaper.
The Micawbers adjust their style for the great outdoors—As preparation for his new life in Australia, Mr. Micawber had outfitted himself with an oilskin jacket, a straw hat, and a telescope. Mrs. Micawber had wrapped herself in a shawl and put on a tight bonnet, as had Miss Micawber. Master Micawber wore a Guernsey shirt and sailor pants, and the younger children were all dressed in waterproof clothing. In short, they were ready for the great outdoors.
Everyone gathers to help with the preparations—David found the Micawbers in front of the Hungerford Steps as they watched some of their belongings leave by boat. They were staying in a room overlooking the river above a nearby pub, where David also found Agnes, his aunt, and Peggotty helping with last-minute clothing preparations before 7 a.m. the next day, when all emigrants had to be on board. Mr. Peggotty was there, too, and in the midst of all the commotion, David quietly told him the false but comforting message that Emily’s note had been delivered to Ham and that all was well. David’s goal was to see his friends off happy and untroubled, no matter how dark the reality was.
Mr. Micawber invites his friends for one last round of punch—Mr. Peggotty announced that all well-wishers could see their friends off the following day in the afternoon at Gravesend, where the ship would be docked before leaving. Until then, Mr. Micawber added, the men would be busy guarding their families and things, and, as Traddles just reminded him, there should be time for one more cup of punch—and all were invited!
More adjustments for life in the bush—David noticed that all the older Micawbers now carried bush knives, and it was his own foot-long version that Mr. Micawber now used to prepare the punch after first getting the ingredients from the bar downstairs. He even went so far as to wipe the knife on his sleeve. Moreover, the Micawbers no longer drank out of glasses but out of tin cups, apparently to get used to the rugged life that awaited them.
Another arrest and bail-out; Mrs. Micawber keeps hoping her family will appear—As Mr. Micawber was expounding upon this, he received a message asking him to come downstairs. Mrs. Micawber’s hunch was that it was someone from her family, finally come to make amends and say goodbye. In fact, it was an officer who had come to arrest Mr. Micawber on another charge by Uriah Heep. David was presently informed of this through another note, and promptly went downstairs to pay it and have Mr. Micawber released. Returning to the room upstairs, Mr. Micawber gave a vague excuse for his absence and then, apparently to ease his own mind, handed Traddles an elaborate calculation of his remaining debts, with compound interest. Unaware of the real reason for her husband’s momentary disappearance, and disappointed but undeterred in her hopes, Mrs. Micawber still believed that her family would show up at Gravesend at the last minute.
Mrs. Micawber’s faith in Mr. Micawber’s prospects in the brave new world of Australia—Aunt Betsey and David urged Mrs. Micawber to write when she got the chance. Both Mrs. and Mr. Micawber assured them they would, and Mr. Micawber added that it would be an easy thing, with all the ships going back and forth, and that the distance wasn’t worth mentioning—an exaggerated assessment in David’s view. Mrs. Micawber then launched into a speech about Mr. Micawber’s talents, his position in the new world, and her expectation that it would strengthen his ties with their home country, which had never given him the credit or opportunity he deserved. She felt he was an uncommon case and that he would rise to a high position in Australia, which would gain him recognition back in England. In her opinion, he should take charge of his destiny now and claim his due. Mr. Micawber, who was ready to put his experience in Britain behind him, had his doubts at first, but gradually saw the merit in her point of view and expressed his gratitude for her determined confidence. On that note, Aunt Betsey proposed a toast, and a beaming Mr. Peggotty shook hands with Mr. Micawber. In that moment, David felt that all would be well and that Mr. Peggotty, too, would do well wherever he went.
A final farewell on board the ship; one last arrest and bail-out—When David checked on them the following day, the Micawbers had already left by 5 a.m. in a boat for Gravesend, where he and Peggotty later met them to say their final goodbyes. The ship itself was mid-river, so that they had to take a smaller boat to get to it, which was apparent from the many boats that already surrounded it. Arriving on deck, David discovered from Mr. Peggotty that Mr. Micawber had been arrested one final time. But per David’s request, Mr. Peggotty had paid the bill, and now David paid him back.
A variety of emigrants and well-wishers crowd the boat; David spots Emily—In the dim lighting of the ship’s hull, David could see it was crowded with emigrants and their belongings. There were people of all different types, ages, and careers: smiths, farmers, children, parents, young adults, newborn infants, old people—all engaged in various activities as they said goodbye and prepared to leave on their long voyage. Off to the side by an open porthole, David noticed someone who resembled Emily. Another woman had just kissed her goodbye and moved off, but by the time David realized that her graceful manner reminded him of Agnes, he had already lost her in the crowd.
David and Mr. Peggotty say their final farewells; David finds Martha among the emigrants—The time had come for all visitors to leave, and Mr. Peggotty turned to David and asked him whether he had any last-minute messages or concerns. David answered that there was one—Martha. Just before that, David had noticed a young woman in black who was helping Mrs. Gummidge organize their belongings. Mr. Peggotty tapped her on the shoulder, and as she stood up, David saw that it was Martha. She was so overcome with emotion just then that she burst into tears. David blessed Mr. Peggotty for taking her with him, and in that moment he felt a deep love and respect for this kind and good man. David’s only other remaining mission was to give Mr. Peggotty Ham’s parting message, without revealing that Ham had died. That was hard, but even harder was not reacting when Mr. Peggotty gave him a loving message in return.
Last goodbyes as the ship moves off into the sunset—Peggotty had been sitting on a chest, crying, and David now said his final goodbyes to his emigrant friends before taking his dear old nurse with him into the little boat. It was sunset by then, and the beauty of the ship, with all the people crowded on deck in silence as they waited to wave their final farewells, left him with feelings of both sadness and hope. As the ship started to sail away, cheers arose from the small boats and were returned by the ship’s passengers. All of a sudden, David noticed Emily standing next to her uncle, who now pointed out David and Peggotty. Seeing Emily waving to them for the last time, David wished in his heart that she would be true to her uncle, who loved and cared for her. As the ship sailed off into the fading light and night fell on the English shore, David felt that night had fallen on his life.
David’s journey: an outline of his inner changes—Chapter 58 is about David’s journey abroad, though it’s more about his inner journey than about his external travels, which he barely mentions. Even then, the chapter is fairly simple as it explains how he went from a sense of overall numbness to grief and despair and, finally, to the remembrance of an old love that might once have become something more.
A three-year journey as a means of processing his emotions—David’s travels abroad lasted three years and encompassed many places and sights, but with little enthusiasm and with an ongoing sense of being removed from it all. As the shock of his recent losses gradually wore off, their reality began to hit home, and David’s suppressed grief rose to the surface. It encompassed not only his own losses, mistakes, and youthful dreams, but what might have been—lives that might have blossomed more fully had they not been cut short.
David’s heart begins to open in the purity of the Swiss countryside—After many months of aimless wandering, David finally arrived in the Swiss mountains. There, in the beauty of a Swiss valley at sunset, he began to feel a faint sense of peace and hope. Something of the purity and wonder of the place opened his heart, and for the first time since Dora’s death, he sobbed from the depths of his soul.
David receives a packet of letters—Immediately before that, David had picked up some letters at the village post office. He had barely kept in touch with his friends and relations, informing them of his latest destination but unable to write anything beyond that. This was the first packet he had received in a while, having missed a number of others.
David reads a comforting letter from Agnes—The letter he opened was from Agnes, who after one brief line about her own happiness and success in her latest endeavors, proceeded to write about her hope and confidence in David’s character and future development. She knew that, no matter what difficulties befell him, no matter how much pain he experienced, he would make the right choices and grow from his trials. He had done this before as a boy, and he would do it again. And she would always be there beside him, proud of his past and future accomplishments. That letter of comfort and hope was exactly what David needed. He read it many times and wrote Agnes, telling her that although he did not yet measure up to her view of him, he would work toward becoming that.
The dawning of a new life—This chapter contains some of the book’s most beautiful scenic descriptions, and like many scenic descriptions in Dickens, they depict a state of being. In this case, the pure beauty of the Swiss valley—the green trees and pasture, the sunlit snow-capped mountains, the singing shepherds’ voices, the fading colors of the sunset—all point to the dawn of a new life and hope, a new purity, like the clearing of the air after a violent storm. At the end of the last chapter, night fell as the ship sailed away, and now, having lived through the dark night of his own soul, David began to see a new light dawning in his heart through the words of one who had been a steady guide and comfort to him since his boyhood.
Agnes’s encouragement gives David new hope and resolve—Buoyed by Agnes’s sense of confidence in him, David resolved to try to become what she saw in him. One thing he appreciated about Agnes was that her vision for him was never accompanied by any sense of pressure. In that spirit, he allowed himself another three months to just be. By then, a year would have elapsed since the beginning of his journey, and he would decide what to do next.
David spends another two years in Switzerland, begins to write again, and regains a sense of self—David spent those three months in the valley, and when they were up, he decided to stay in Switzerland a while longer and write, wintering in Geneva and spending the rest of his time in the valley. He began to come out of his shell again and soon had many warm new friendships, and he took comfort and inspiration from nature. He also resumed his disciplined routine of writing and before long had sent Traddles a finished story for publication. After a break, he started his third novel, and before it was halfway through, he realized he was ready to go home. Aside from regaining a sense of self, he had accumulated much in the way of knowledge and experience, and he felt healthy again, which was not the case when he left England.
David becomes aware of his complex feelings for Agnes—There was one other thing David wanted to mention before leaving this chapter of his life. His complex feelings for Agnes, which remained suppressed for a long time, began to surface during his period of darkness and despair. It occurred to him that, through the impetuous choices of his younger years, he had undervalued her love and possibly thrown away the opportunity of its evolving into something more. Dora’s intuitions on the subject had also haunted him, and he had an inkling that Agnes might have felt something more for him at one point, but he wasn’t sure. Now as he returned to his native shores three years later, he knew he had feelings and thoughts of that nature, but he felt the opportunity to realize them was gone, and he didn’t want to disrupt what they had.
Returning to London in the fall—David returned to London on a cold, dreary, foggy evening in autumn, before the long summer vacation for the courts and universities had ended, Michaelmas term not beginning until October. After his travels through Europe, London’s houses, though familiar, seemed bleak to him, and some had even been pulled down to make way for changes in the neighborhood.
A lonely return by himself in the London fog—Change was, of course, to be expected not only in the physical surroundings but in the lives of those close to him. Traddles was slowly breaking into the legal field and was living in chambers at Gray’s Inn, one of the Inns of Court, and Aunt Betsey had returned to her house in Dover. David’s friends and relatives weren’t expecting him so soon, and because he wanted to surprise them, he hadn’t arranged for anyone to meet him and therefore felt a bit lonely. This was quickly eased, however, by the warmth from the familiar shop windows glowing through the fog.
David inquires about Traddles at the inn—On entering into the coffee shop at Gray’s Inn, where David would also be spending the night, he inquired about Traddles’s exact address. He next asked how Traddles was doing in his career as a lawyer. The first waiter David asked was not aware of any great reputation on his part, and the head waiter had never heard of him, nor did he seem interested. He was more intent on taking David’s dinner order.
After a discouraging response, David wonders if Traddles will succeed—David felt sorry for Traddles and wondered if he would ever make a go of it. It didn’t help that the heavy, traditional environment of Gray’s Inn, personified by the head waiter and the coffee room, seemed full of rules and regulations, unbending and unchanging. Everything was perfectly polished and maintained—sedate, old, and expensive. In such an environment, where little changed in a decade, someone like Traddles would come across as an unlikely upstart, and the thought that his friend stood no chance saddened David.
David hears girls laughing as he walks up to Traddles’s apartment—David quickly finished his dinner and headed off to see his old friend. Traddles lived on the top floor of No. 2 in the Court, and as David made his way up the dimly lighted staircase, he was surprised to hear the sound of girls laughing. When he stopped to listen, one of the old, decrepit planks gave way, and the noise he made upon stumbling interrupted the laughter.
A happy reunion—Arriving at Traddles’s door, he was greeted by a young boy attendant, who, after some hesitation, let David in and escorted him to the sitting room to see Traddles. Traddles was sitting at a table, apparently working, and both the boy and Traddles looked out of breath. But whatever hesitation was previously there disappeared when Traddles saw David. Instead, there was a happy reunion, with hugs, handshaking, and a mutual exchange of warm greetings and new information.
Traddles and Sophy are recently married; the laughing girls are her sisters—Traddles was impressed by David’s growing fame, and David learned that Traddles had finally married the “dearest girl in the world” just six weeks earlier. Apparently, David had not received Traddles’s latest letter. Sophy, who had been hiding behind the curtain, now came out, beaming. The laughing girls, it turned out, were her sisters, and just as David was coming up the stairs, Traddles had been playing with them. He had stopped when he heard a visitor arrive in the interest of looking professional.
Traddles makes the best of his situation—Traddles was delighted to have the laughter of young girls in his apartment. He felt it brought a sense of lightness and life to the heaviness of Gray’s Inn, even if it was deemed unprofessional. Living there with Sophy was also considered unprofessional, but they had no other options, and Sophy was extremely capable, which justified it in Traddles’s mind. And, as Traddles mentioned several times, they were ready to “rough it.” David asked which of the girls were there at the moment and learned that there were five, including the oldest (the “Beauty”), the invalid, and the two younger ones, whom Sophy had educated. Sophy had organized beds for all her sisters in their three-room apartment, while she and Traddles cheerfully made do with the floor the first week, afterwards graduating to a small attic room, which Sophy fixed up and which had an excellent view.
Traddles’s patience and determination—Traddles was also thrilled to point out the marble table and flowerpot he had been saving for so long. The other furniture was just functional, and they still didn’t have any silver, but all that would come in due time and would mean even more when they finally had it. After all, it had been a long wait for both Traddles and Sophy, so when Traddles began to make headway as a lawyer, he went down to Devonshire to convince Sophy’s father, the Reverend Crewler, that the time had come for him and Sophy to be married. Sophy, too, was willing, even though Traddles wasn’t completely settled. Her father agreed, on the condition that Traddles would earn £250 a year and provide a decent living space. Traddles also promised that if anything happened to the two parents, he would take care of the girls, assuming he was in a position to do so. The Reverend agreed to convince Sophy’s mother that it was time to let go of her daughter, even if she had been a great help to the whole family. That was easier said than done. Sophy had been so useful to the family that they resented having Traddles take her from them. But they did let go, and Traddles was happy and cheerful, even though he rose at five and worked constantly and hard.
David meets Sophy’s sisters—Suddenly, their attention shifted. The girls had come into the room, and Traddles now introduced them to David, who was impressed with their freshness, describing them as a “perfect nest of roses.” David found them all pretty, especially the oldest, but Sophy had a brightness and cheer that made her unique, and it was clear that she loved and believed in Traddles (“Tom,” to her) as much as he did her. She also emphasized that Traddles was David’s devoted friend and that when they visited with Aunt Betsey and Agnes in Kent, the main subject on everyone’s mind was David.
Traddles and Sophy’s cheerful generosity and competency leaves David with a feeling of hope—Another thing that delighted David about both Sophy and Traddles was their generosity and helpfulness toward Sophy’s sisters. Neither of them was troubled by the girls’ various whims and demands, which were ongoing. Instead, they were constantly and cheerfully at their service. They seemed to take great pleasure in being there for others and never appeared exhausted or upset. In the process of serving everyone, Sophy’s knowledge and capabilities in different areas—whether of singing songs, fixing hair, writing notes, or whatever else—had grown so much that no one thought of relying on anyone but her, out of all the sisters, to do anything. In return for all their love and good cheer, Sophy and Traddles received a tremendous amount of love and respect, and the whole experience left David in good spirits. It was like a breath of fresh air in an otherwise dry and staid environment, and it left him with a feeling of hope about Traddles’s future, regardless of his surroundings.
David recognizes Mr. Chillip in the coffee room—It was in this mood that David returned to the coffeehouse and sat down by the fire. Before long, his thoughts turned from Traddles’s happiness to the difficulties of his own life, and he thought of Agnes and what he had lost by preventing that relationship from ever growing into something more than a brother-sister interaction. As he sat musing on these things, he noticed meek, little Mr. Chillip, the delivery room doctor, sitting off in a corner by himself reading the newspaper. David therefore walked up to him and asked him how he was. After a bit of bantering, Mr. Chillip still couldn’t figure out who David was, so David finally told him. That elicited an emotional reaction, and they got to talking about many things—that David looked like his father, that his fame as a writer was spreading, and that Mr. Chillip and his family had moved from Blunderstone to Bury St. Edmunds about seven years earlier because his wife had inherited some property.
David buys Mr. Chillip a drink and hears about the Murdstones’ latest escapades—David noticed that Mr. Chillip had emptied his glass of negus,[i] so he offered to buy them both another drink. The topic turned to David’s loss of Dora. Mr. Chillip had heard about it through Miss Murdstone, whose distinctive character had made an impression on him. In fact, the Murdstones had moved to the same neighborhood as the doctor and his family. Mr. Murdstone had once again married a young, fresh, innocent woman, and he and his sister then proceeded to terrorize her into a state of misery, weakness, and imbecility. Throughout the conversation, the doctor kept quoting Mrs. Chillip, a “great observer,” who noticed, among other things, that Mr. Murdstone referred to himself as a Divine Nature and delivered dark, severe speeches in the name of religion. Mr. Chillip himself could see no support for the Murdstones’ doctrine in the New Testament, and it was no surprise that the entire neighborhood disliked them, which, in the Murdstones’ view, meant they were all consigned to hell.
Memories of David’s birth; opinions on Aunt Betsey—After a bit more chatting, David discovered that Mr. Chillip was at Gray’s Inn as a professional witness in a hospital patient insanity case. He confessed that such cases made him nervous, just as Aunt Betsey’s behavior at the time of David’s birth had had a detrimental effect on him that took a while to unravel. David noted that he was on his way to visit the same Aunt Betsey and that she was, in fact, a wonderful, kind woman. That was too much for Mr. Chillip to process, and he took it as his cue to go to bed.
A cheerful reunion in Dover—The next day, David arrived at his aunt’s old cottage in Dover, where he was warmly and joyfully received by Aunt Betsey, Mr. Dick, and Peggotty, who now kept house for them. Aunt Betsey got a good laugh from Mr. Chillip’s fearful memory of her, and both Peggotty and David’s aunt went on about Mr. Murdstone and his “murdering” sister.
[i] Similar to hot toddy, a heated mixture of liquor, water, sugar, and spices
Catching up on the news—David and Aunt Betsey spent the evening by the fire talking of things like the emigrants’ successful beginnings in the new world, Janet’s marriage to a prosperous Dover tavern owner, and Aunt Betsey’s approval as shown by her decision to attend the wedding. Mr. Dick, too, was doing well. He had found a new vocation in copying, through which he managed to keep Charles I at bay.
Aunt Betsey steers the conversation toward the subject of David and Agnes’s relationship—Changing the subject, Aunt Betsey wanted to know when David planned to go to Canterbury. His aunt had picked up on something going on between Agnes and him, even though they hadn’t yet admitted it to each other, and now she steered the conversation in that direction. But David wasn’t ready to talk about his love for Agnes, so while it was obvious Aunt Betsey understood, she refrained from being too direct.
More detail about the Wickfields; Aunt Betsey’s intuitive understanding of David’s feelings—Before David even mentioned Agnes, Aunt Betsey read his mind and warned him that Mr. Wickfield had aged but also grown in his understanding of human nature. Agnes, on the other hand, was as beautiful and good as always, and she was busy with her school. In Aunt Betsey’s opinion, if she educated the girls to be like her, she would do much for the world. David hesitated before asking whether Agnes was romantically involved. According to Aunt Betsey, she had many suitors and could have married any number of times. Were there any viable ones, though—any that deserved her? Aunt Betsey had her suspicions but wouldn’t say anything beyond that. David’s stated hope was that Agnes would confide in him as a brother, just as he had always confided in her. But it was clear from the way Aunt Betsey looked at David throughout the conversation that she understood there was more going on. Now she said nothing but quietly placed her hand on his shoulder as they both looked into the fire.
David visits Agnes the following day—David rode to Canterbury the next day. On arriving at the old house, he hesitated at first but finally got up the courage to go in. The maid led him up the stairs to the drawing room, and David was relieved to see that all vestiges of the Heeps’ presence were gone. He had only told the maid he was a friend from abroad, so it was a happy surprise for Agnes when she saw him, and he, too, was happy to be in her peaceful presence again as he hugged her closely. She embodied home for him, a feeling of goodness, welcome, peace, and understanding he had long yearned for. Now she sat beside him, and though he still couldn’t bring himself to express his feelings, her calming influence had already begun its soothing magic, even when she spoke of Emily and of Dora’s grave.
David asks Agnes about herself but backs off when she seems uncomfortable—David asked Agnes about her own personal life, claiming she never spoke about herself. Agnes didn’t know what to say. They had their home back, and her father was healthy and content again, and that, to her, was everything. David pressed for more, but she denied there was anything else. Even so, she seemed uncomfortable, and he noticed a paleness in her face and a sadness to her smile at that moment. He changed the subject, and they spoke of different things—how the school kept her busy, how long David planned to visit, and that the old house was restored to its former happy self.
An evening with the Wickfields brings up thoughts about the past—Agnes had to finish teaching school for the day, so David went out for a walk about the town. The conversation had left him unconvinced that he could ever be anything more to Agnes than a loving brother, so he resolved to do this as faithfully as possible, as she had done for him. When David returned for dinner, Agnes’s father was back from his gardening, his latest pastime, located a bit beyond Canterbury. They had dinner with Agnes and about six little schoolgirls, and after dinner, they all went up to the drawing room, where they had tea while the little girls studied, played, and sang. After the girls left, the three of them reminisced about the past, although Mr. Wickfield spoke of many regrets. Yet Agnes had made it all worthwhile for him, and he would not change anything. For the first time, too, Mr. Wickfield spoke of his wife, who died of a broken heart after her father, a severe man who disapproved of her marriage, renounced her. Agnes was only two weeks old at the time of her death, and in her, Mr. Wickfield saw much of his wife and feared his daughter had suffered in similar ways. David wondered what he meant by this last statement. Yet even without a full understanding on David’s part, Agnes’s devotion for her father was clear, and David now gained a deeper sense of it.
Restrained communication between Agnes and David—When her father finished, Agnes played some old tunes on the piano. While she played, she asked David whether he had any thoughts of going abroad again. He asked her how she felt about it, and when she said she hoped he didn’t, he made it clear that her wish was his wish. He was trying to broach the subject of their relationship, and he finally did, but in a hesitant way. The most he could do at this point was to profess his undying love and commitment to her as a brother, no matter whom she loved or married. He felt he didn’t deserve her after all the years of falling in love with other women, and he misinterpreted the restrained emotional play he saw on her face.
David’s silent hopes—David had promised to be back in Dover by nighttime, and as he thought of their conversation on the way back, it seemed to him that neither of them was happy. He had resigned himself to a restrained love on earth, but he hoped that someday the transcendent nature of their true love would unfold in a heavenly realm.
David visits Traddles to sort through his fan mail, delivered there since his stay abroad—David spent several months in Dover finishing his book, with periodic visits to London to soak up city life or visit Traddles. Traddles had been managing David’s business affairs since his journey abroad, and in the meantime, David’s fan mail had grown so large that he arranged to have it delivered to Traddles’s address. Every so often, David would stop by to discuss some business point with Traddles and to sift through the bushels of mostly irrelevant letters.
Sophy trains herself as a copyist to help out Traddles—By now, Sophy’s sisters had returned to Devonshire, and Sophy herself kept busy managing their domestic affairs and, when necessary, staying out of sight of the stuffy legal types who might disapprove of the presence of a woman in chambers. David also noticed on many visits that Sophy would quickly shove a copybook into a drawer, and he wondered why. Eventually he discovered from Traddles that she had been training herself as a copyist so she could take over that job when “Tom” became a judge someday. He was proud of the professional results she had achieved and had no qualms about saying so, but Sophy herself felt it was better to keep it secret because of current attitudes toward women in the professions.
Traddles praises Sophy’s many wonderful qualities—David commented on what a wonderful wife she was, which got Traddles praising her many good qualities. She was cheerful and adaptable, always on time, discreet in her movements while staying in chambers, an excellent housekeeper, attractive and energetic, a good cook and baker, creative within their means, and fun to be with. For them, taking walks together to go window shopping and dream of what they would buy each other was as good as actually buying the thing. Or they would buy half-price theater tickets and enjoy every minute, or just sit together in a warm apartment on a cold night. Traddles was thrilled to be so lucky.
Mr. Creakle, now a magistrate, invites David to inspect a “model” prison system—David wondered if Traddles ever drew skeletons anymore, and Traddles had to admit that he did occasionally indulge in it. That got them talking about Mr. Creakle, and David remembered he had a letter from their old schoolmaster, who had since been appointed a Middlesex Magistrate and had invited David to observe how well their prison system worked. They claimed that solitary confinement was the secret to creating model prisoners, and David wanted to know if Traddles would come along to verify this great achievement. David also found it interesting that Mr. Creakle, who had been a tyrant toward the schoolboys, was gentle and considerate toward the worst criminals. Traddles was not surprised, and they both agreed to say nothing of their former treatment, which had apparently been forgotten now that David was famous.
David and Traddles tour the prison; David finds the prisoners’ excellent conditions ironic—A day or two later, David and Traddles visited the huge prison, which David remembered cost a great deal to build. They were met by several magistrates and some other visiting gentlemen. Mr. Creakle looked more or less the same, though older, and judging from his manner toward Traddles and David, he had no recollection of his former tyrannical behavior as their school principal. David was struck by the extreme concern the group had for the prisoners’ comfort as well as by the gentlemen’s total focus on prison life. Their tour began in the kitchen, coincidentally at around dinnertime, where David couldn’t help noticing the high quality of the meals being delivered to the prisoners’ cells. It occurred to him that the mass of workers who earned an honest living, including soldiers and sailors, rarely enjoyed a meal of that quantity and quality.
A flawed “perfect” system—The system’s supposed efficacy was based on the “perfect” isolation of individual prisoners, but as the men toured the building, David noticed that the isolation was not as perfect as claimed and that it was likely (and eventually proved) that the prisoners communicated enough that they knew a lot about each other, which was the opposite of the goal. The other thing he noticed repeatedly as they visited the prisoners’ cells was that their professions of remorse and reform all sounded strangely similar. Nor did he get a feeling of trust from any of them. It was easy to profess reform where there was no chance of temptation, but he doubted they would be able to resist reverting to their old ways under real outside circumstances.
Model Prisoner No. 27, the cream of the prisoner crop—Throughout the tour, the group kept hearing about Model Prisoner No. 27, who supposedly far outshone the others in his degree of reformation and his belief in the system that had converted him. He had such a good reputation at the prison that the tour leaders were saving his cell for last, so by the time they got there, David’s curiosity had reached its peak. When they finally arrived at his cell, Mr. Creakle, after looking through the keyhole, reported that No. 27 was reading a hymn book. The excitement that followed that revelation created so much competition for the keyhole that they decided to allow No. 27 to come out and meet the visitors in person.
No. 27 is brought out to meet the visitors—To Traddles’s and David’s great surprise, they found themselves looking at Uriah Heep. Uriah recognized them immediately and inquired after their well-being, which impressed the gentlemen on the tour. When Mr. Creakle asked him how he was, Uriah gave his usual profession of humility. Every time someone asked about his comfort, he used it as a chance to confess how wrong he had been and how much he had changed. Most of the party believed him.
Model Prisoner No. 28; the model prisoners speak—The magistrates now brought out another model prisoner, No. 28, who turned out to be none other than Mr. Littimer. Mr. Littimer emerged reading a book, with his “highly respectable” veneer perfectly intact. Each model prisoner had a champion, Mr. Creakle being Uriah’s and another gentleman being in charge of Littimer, and these champions guided the conversation. When asked how he was, Littimer’s answers had the same hollow ring to them as Uriah’s, but other than David and Traddles, the gentlemen visitors seemed not to pick up on this. The other thing Uriah and Littimer had in common, once they had made a show of how reformed they were, was to point the finger at other people, either as being the cause of their own guilt or as being in need of reform, as though the whole of London shared their qualities and backgrounds. Both Uriah and Littimer specifically addressed David, and Littimer even asked him to relay his “forgiveness” of Emily, in spite of her bad behavior when he tried to “save” her. Uriah gave a similarly sanctimonious speech, mentioning that David had hit him (to the horror of the naïve gentlemen) but that he forgave him. David couldn’t help noticing at one point that Uriah’s expression was more evil than ever and that when Littimer excused himself to return to his cell, he and Uriah exchanged looks as though they knew each other.
David asks a warden about the two prisoners’ crimes—David noticed that the magistrates were not keen to talk about the prisoners’ crimes, so he quietly asked one of the wardens, who he guessed had a more honest, less deluded view of the prisoners. He learned that Uriah was in prison for forgery, fraud, and conspiracy against the Bank of England. He had almost gotten away with the crime, but the bank managed to lure him into revealing himself. He was sentenced to permanent transportation. Littimer had been arrested for stealing £250 worth of valuables and cash from a young gentleman. He was on his way to America when he was recognized, in spite of his disguise, by Miss Mowcher, who grabbed his legs and wouldn’t let go. Littimer tried to beat her off, but even the arresting officers couldn’t pry her away, and she ended up being a star witness in court. Littimer was also sentenced to transportation.
David and Traddles’s conclusions about the model prison—David and Traddles left the prison convinced that no real reform had taken place. Littimer and Heep were the same deceivers they had always been, and the system that was supposed to be so promising held no real promise at all.
David and Agnes still keep their real feelings to themselves—Two months passed, and it was now Christmastime. David had visited Agnes once a week or more during that time, and his deep love and respect for her remained as strong as ever. Still, he could not express his real feelings and had relegated his desires to a mental shelf, where they would take a backseat to whomever she chose as her husband. His only consolation, other than her company, was that he could be to her what she had been to him for so many years—a trusted confidant, counselor, and friend—and that was what he now committed himself to being.
Aunt Betsey’s intuitions; David decides to find out if there’s another man—The only person who had any inkling of their feelings was Aunt Betsey, who silently surmised it through her usual astute observation of her nephew’s face. However, they never spoke of it directly, although Aunt Betsey left broad hints now and then, and there seemed to be a deep understanding between them. Agnes herself showed no signs of change, except for the occasional thoughtful look and sad smile, and she did not seem to have any awareness of David’s real feelings. All this reticence increased whatever confusion already existed, and David convinced himself there had to be another man, but he could not understand why Agnes kept her secret from him. In his determination to repay her for her faithfulness, he resolved to clear things up.
David gets the wrong idea from Aunt Betsey—It was in this frame of mind that David bid his aunt goodbye on his way out into the cold winter’s night. But before leaving, he could not refrain from asking her whether she knew anything more about Agnes’s secret love. Aunt Betsey said she thought she did, and when he asked her whether she was sure, she offered that she thought Agnes was going to marry. Determined to stick to his resolve and face this cheerfully, David wished God’s blessing upon her. His aunt, agreeing, blessed her husband, too. Hearing this bit of news from his aunt, David mounted his horse and set out for Canterbury, more determined than ever to broach the subject with Agnes.
David asks Agnes to reveal her secret love to him—Arriving at the Wickfields’, David found Agnes reading by herself. She quickly realized he was in a serious mood and gave him all her attention. It didn’t take David long to tell her that he knew she had a secret and he wanted her to share it with him, to let him be there for her. He assured her that his motives weren’t selfish, that he could take a back seat to whomever else she chose.
Agnes refuses to tell David and fends him off—Apparently, he struck a painful chord in her. As though she couldn’t face it, she moved quickly to the window, and he saw that she was crying, but something about her tears gave him hope. At the same time, he didn’t want to cause her pain, so he begged her to tell him what was going on, but she was adamant—she couldn’t speak about it just now. As she fended him off, David searched for some clue, and he began to wonder if there wasn’t some hope, after all, for the feelings he had buried. At first, he brushed them off. He wanted her to know that his motives were pure and unselfish, that he would be there for her no matter how their relationship changed outwardly. Hearing this, Agnes quietly informed him that he had misunderstood. Her secret was nothing new. She had held it within her for many years, but it was not something she would share, and she could bear it alone.
In a burst of passion, David and Agnes finally tell each other the truth—David’s thoughts were racing now as he realized the implications of what she was saying. As she began to walk away, he took her by the waist and held her close to him. He hadn’t come to tell her his deeper feelings, but now all his love, passion, and hopes burst forth as he dared to believe she might love him as something more than a friend. It was the closest thing to a marriage proposal, and when he saw her shedding tears of joy, he knew he had understood correctly. All the struggles he had felt in the last few years, the incompleteness he had sensed in his earlier marriage, the feeling of guidance and home she had always provided—all of it came spilling out now, and Agnes, too, admitted that she had loved David her whole life. That night, they walked together in the wintry fields, looking up at the moon and the stars and feeling at last that they had found peace and happiness together.
David and Agnes make their new relationship known to Aunt Betsey—The next day, David and Agnes went to Dover together, arriving in time for dinner. At first, they revealed nothing, but Aunt Betsey sensed something was different because she kept looking at David for clues, which meant putting on her spectacles. When she saw no hint of anything, she would remove them and use them to rub her nose, a sign that something was bothering her. Following dinner, when David told Aunt Betsey he had mentioned their conversation to Agnes, his aunt was perturbed and scolded him for betraying her trust. But when David put his arm around Agnes and they both leaned over her chair together, she caught on and became hysterical with joy—the only time David ever saw her like that. She hugged Peggotty and then hugged Mr. Dick. It was a happy moment for everyone.
David and Agnes are married; Dora’s secret request—Two weeks later, David and Agnes were married. It was a small but joyous wedding, with only the Traddles and the Strongs as guests. Afterwards, as David and Agnes drove off together, David felt at last that this was the love he had waited for all his life. But Agnes had one more thing to confess. Could David guess what it was? The night Dora died, she made Agnes promise that no one else would take her place.
Ten years later, David is a wealthy, successful author who lives in London with his family—It has been ten years since David and Agnes’s wedding. In the meantime, David has grown wealthy and famous as an author, and he and Agnes have moved to London and now have at least three children. When Chapter 63 opens, the family is together in the sitting room on a spring evening. There is a fire in the fireplace, the children are playing, and the scene is one of contentment and peace.
Mr. Peggotty visits from Australia—A servant announces the arrival of a personal visitor, a simple, rugged man resembling a farmer. It is Mr. Peggotty, and there is a joyful reunion. He is older, but still healthy and strong, and the children are immediately drawn to him. Mr. Peggotty recounts how he decided to take the long trip from Australia to visit David and his family before he got too old to do so. He would be staying in England for a month.
Mr. Peggotty tells of the hard work and success of the whole group of emigrants—After insisting that he stay with them, David and Agnes sat on either side of Mr. Peggotty, eager to see him and hear everything he had to tell. The word was that with hard work and patience, all the emigrants had prospered, between sheep farming, cattle raising, and other things. Mr. Peggotty felt with certainty that their group had been blessed.
Emily lives with her uncle, avoiding other people except when helping those in need—David and Agnes both wanted to know how Emily was doing. She had settled in with her uncle and was happy when around him, but she shied away from other people, except when helping those in need. Between that and her chores, she stayed busy. She could have married many times but felt that possibility was over for her, and there was something sorrowful and shy in her manner. No one there knew her history or why she was the way she was, though many people liked her.
Mr. Peggotty thanks David for keeping secret the bad news about Ham and Steerforth—Mr. Peggotty also thanked David for keeping the bad news about Steerforth and Ham from them. Mr. Peggotty himself, when he finally found out, managed to keep it from Emily for a year, but eventually she found out through an old newspaper brought by a traveler. David and Agnes wanted to know if the news had changed Emily. Mr. Peggotty said it did for a long time, but being away from people, out in nature, and staying busy helped her get through it. He saw her too often to gauge it correctly, but he thought he had noticed a difference and wondered whether David would recognize her.
Martha marries and moves to the bush—Agnes and David asked next about Martha. Mr. Peggotty told them that Martha married a year or so after they arrived. Women were few there, and her husband was a farmhand who had traveled a considerable distance. He proposed to her, and they moved to their own solitary place in the bush country. Before doing so, she asked Mr. Peggotty to tell her suitor her real life story, which he did.
Mrs. Gummidge decks a marriage suitor but remains loyal and helpful to Mr. Peggotty—What about Mrs. Gummidge? Mr. Peggotty started roaring with laughter when he heard the question, and soon they were all laughing uncontrollably. Even Mrs. Gummidge received a marriage proposal, and she reacted by smashing a pail over the suitor’s head. That incident aside, she remained completely changed. She totally dispensed with her lost, forlorn attitude and was the most helpful, hardworking, faithful person you could imagine.
The emigrants move to Port Middlebay after thriving in the bush; Mr. Peggotty pulls out the town paper—Finally, there was Mr. Micawber. What happened to him and his family? David and Agnes knew he had paid all his debts, which spoke well for him, but they were curious to learn more. Mr. Peggotty smiled and pulled out a newspaper. He explained they had all gotten their start in the bush country, where Mr. Micawber had worked as hard as anyone. Eventually, though, they had prospered so much they all moved to a town called Port Middlebay Harbour. Mr. Peggotty presented the Port Middlebay Times to tell the rest of the story.
Mr. Micawber fulfills Mrs. Micawber’s prediction; all the Micawbers and Mr. Mell, now Dr. Mell, and his family are thriving—The paper told of a dinner given in honor of Mr. Micawber, who was now a District Magistrate and regular columnist for the paper. The large room was packed to overflowing, and the town’s elite had crowded in to pay their respects to Wilkins Micawber, Esquire. He was introduced and toasted by Dr. Mell, David’s former teacher at Salem House, who had founded his own grammar school in Port Middlebay and was now married with children of his own, one of whom, Helena, was applauded for her beautiful dancing. Mr. Micawber’s own speech was received with great enthusiasm and applause. Further toasts were extended to Mrs. Mell and all the Micawbers: Mrs. Micawber and her extended family in England; Master Micawber, who delighted the audience with his singing; and the former Miss Micawber, now Mrs. Ridger Begs. The dinner and toasts were followed by dancing.
Mr. Peggotty points out a letter in the paper addressed to David and written by Mr. Micawber—Mr. Peggotty now drew their attention to another article, this one written by Mr. Micawber himself and addressed in formal terms to David, with the subtitle “The eminent author.” It was a public expression of gratitude and admiration for David’s contribution and achievements as an author. Mr. Micawber especially wanted to express that the people of Port Middlebay, who were as civilized as anyone, were his avid readers and always interested in David’s latest venture.
Seeing Peggotty and Aunt Betsey; visiting Ham’s grave; saying goodbye for the last time—During Mr. Peggotty’s time with David and Agnes, Peggotty and Aunt Betsey also came to see him. Toward the end, he and David took a trip to Yarmouth to see Ham’s grave, and in keeping with a promise he made to Emily, Mr. Peggotty collected some of the earth. Finally, David and Agnes both saw him off, and David knew it would be for the last time.
What became of everyone?—In his short closing chapter, David recalls the faces of those still living who played a role in his journey, and now he traces the outcome of their lives.
Aunt Betsey—First, there is Aunt Betsey, now in her eighties. Her eyesight might be weaker, but she still stands as tall and strong and energetic as ever, even walking six miles in the cold. Aunt Betsey’s longstanding wish for a goddaughter named Betsey Trotwood has been fulfilled, and that child was followed by a younger sister named Dora.
Peggotty—Then there’s Peggotty, also wearing glasses but still with her wax candle and needlework, and shoved in her pocket is the crocodile book, a cherished remnant of David’s childhood.
Mr. Dick—Entertaining himself and a new generation of boyish Davids with his kites is Mr. Dick. He still holds Aunt Betsey in the highest regard, but he is no longer too concerned with the Memorial.
Mrs. Steerforth and Rosa Dartle—Mrs. Steerforth has grown old and hunched over, and her mind is weak. She is easily confused, until she remembers that her pride and joy, her son, is dead, and she is struck by the pain of that realization. Her companion, Rosa Dartle, is the same edgy, bitter, impatient person, but when needed, she still has some compassion left for Steerforth’s mother.
Julia Mills, Jack Maldon—Julia Mills, now married to an extremely wealthy Scotchman, has returned from India. She is surrounded by the trappings of money and “society,” which includes the likes of such shallow individuals as Jack Maldon—and she has forgotten love and romance. To David, such an existence is the opposite of the things that make life worth living.
Dr. Strong, Annie, and Mrs. Markleham—Dr. Strong, that kindly old gentleman, has gotten as far as the letter D in his dictionary. But his marriage with Annie is happy, and his mother-in-law has been tamed.
Traddles and Sophy—Of course, there’s also Traddles. Time has moved a bit further along at this point, and Traddles is balding now, though what remains is as unruly as ever. He is on his way to becoming a judge, though he is modest about it. And he’s thrilled that he’s achieved all his life goals, and more. He is earning almost twice as much money as he expected to, his boys are receiving excellent educations, and Sophy’s sisters are either happily married or living with either them or their father, the Reverend. Only the “Beauty,” now a widow, is unhappy, having been through an imperfect marriage. But Traddles feels they can and will restore things.
It is Sophy’s birthday, and the house is full of relatives. It is one of the houses Sophy and Traddles once dreamt of owning, long before they could afford it. Now that they actually live there, they still give away the best rooms to Sophy’s sisters, who always seem to be staying with them for one reason or another. But for all their wealth, there is still the same simple good cheer that has always been a part of their home.
Agnes—Such are the faces that people David’s life. Yet among them all, one stands out and shines more brightly than all the others. It is Agnes, the guiding light of his life, who is beside him now and will be there till the end.