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Jane Austen was born in Steventon, England, in 1775, the seventh of eight children. Her father was a preacher, and the family lived a modest life at the rectory. Education was important to them, and her father was a classics scholar in addition to a preacher. All the children were schooled at home, but Austen also spent several years studying at a school away from home. Her childhood was from all accounts happy; her family often read aloud to each other and performed plays. Her mother was prone to bouts of hypochondria, but otherwise the family was healthy and happy. Everyone encouraged Austen's talent and intellect, and she began writing during her teenage years.
Bath, the area of England most associated with Jane Austen, was her home only for four years, from 1801 to 1805. The family moved there when her father retired, and moved to Southampton in 1805 after her father's death. She lived in Southampton until 1809, when she moved to Chawton. The period during Austen's residence in Bath and Southampton was a stark one from a literary perspective-- Austen wrote little during this time. Travel and tedious social engagements kept her busy in Bath; in Southampton she was troubled by city life and a noisy infant recently added to the household.
Likely because marriage figures so prominently in her novels, much has been made of Austen's decision not to marry. Though there exists little evidence to support any romances, as many of her more intimate letters were destroyed, there is much speculation on the topic. Being unmarried in one's twenties qualified one as a spinster, but Austen accepted and then quickly rejected a proposal made to her at the age of twenty-seven. There is also rumor of a love in her childhood whom she was unable to marry due to her small fortune, and a somber tale of a mystery man who died soon after Austen fell in love with him. Dedicated to her writing and protective of her privacy, there is no record of her complaining about her single life. She became the beloved Aunt Jane to her brother's children, and this seemed to suite her fine.
Austen worked hard on her novels, constantly revising them. She wrote her first work, a satire, at the age of 15. Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Northanger Abbey were all begun in the 1790s and revised greatly before their publication, with Sense and Sensibility not published until 1811. Pride and Prejudice appeared in 1813,
Mansfield Park the following year, and Emma in 1816. Publishing her novels was important to Austen, though nearly all were published long after they were written; Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published posthumously. Her desire to publish anonymously was not unusual; for a woman writer, fame could often lead to infamy. It was not until after her death, in 1818, that a biographical note was added to her novels and her authorship was established.
The novelist Virginia Woolf said of Jane Austen, "Of all the great writers she is the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness." Austen was a keen observer of social class and customs, and Emma is no exception. Considered the author's masterpiece, Austen believed she had created "a heroine whom no one but myself will much like." A comical book largely about Emma's errors of judgment, Austen adeptly keeps us from disliking her blundering heroine. She had family and friends read and rate the book, and many preferred other of her works. But readers liked Emma, both novel and character, and this admiration is a credit to the author's skill.
Though a master of prose and observation, Austen did not receive much acclaim by the time she died of Addison's disease in 1817. Today she is the respected and well-read author she worked hard and desired to be.
Austen, Jane. Emma. New York: Bantam Books, 1981.
Bush, Douglas. Jane Austen. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1975.
Joyce, Elizabeth. "Jane Austen." British Women Writers: A Critical Reference Guide. Ed. Janet Todd. New York: Continuum, 1989.
Stapleton, Michael, ed. Cambridge Guide to English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
Tomalin, Claire. Jane Austen: A Life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997.
After her beloved governess, Miss Taylor, leaves Hartfield to become Mrs. Weston, Emma Woodhouse finds herself in need of a friend. The answer is Harriet Smith, a girl of questionable origins whom Emma decides to improve. First she convinces Harriet to refuse a marriage proposal from Mr. Martin, a farmer. Imagining Harriet to be too respectable and genteel for such a man, Emma chooses for her Mr. Elton, the town preacher. Mr. Knightley, an old family friend, dislikes Emma's matchmaking and worries she will harm Harriet. Emma convinces herself that Harriet and Mr. Elton are lovers, and is very surprised when Mr. Elton reveals that he loves her, not Harriet. Emma, offended at the idea, refuses him.
Now having lost her both Mr. Martin and Mr. Elton, Emma determines to stop matchmaking. Then the son of Mr. Weston, Frank Churchill, arrives in town. The Westons secretly hope he and Emma will become attached. Emma is at first attracted to the handsome young man, but she loses interest after his first visit. The Eltons return to town, and Emma and Harriet must suffer under the vain and self-important Mrs. Elton. Mrs. Weston thinks Mr. Knightley and Jane Fairfax like each other, even though he denies the charge. Miss Fairfax is to be a governess, and her new friend Mrs. Elton diligently looks for a job for the unwilling girl.
When Frank Churchill returns Emma imagines that Harriet would be a much better match for the young man, and she hopes this new entry will distract her friend from the newly married Mr. Elton. But at the ball at Crown Inn, Emma dances with Mr. Churchill, and Harriet finds herself alone for two of the dances. Mr. Knightley, who dances with her, saves her from Mr. Elton's refusals. The next day it is Frank Churchill who comes to Harriet's aid, saving her from a band of gypsies. Several days later Harriet seems determined to be over Mr. Elton, and she burns her few remembrances of him.
Mr. Knightley suspects that Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax are secretly attached. The young man had some town gossip which only the Bates' (including Jane) knew, and during a puzzle game he drops some more clues. This makes Mr. Knightley dislike the young man even more, and fears Mr. Churchill is leading Emma on.
The group spends a pleasant day at Mr. Knightley's home, the only uneasiness caused by Miss Fairfax's leaving early, then by Mr. Churchill's ill temper. The next day the group takes a day trip to Box Hill. It is a tense day, only increasing when Mr. Churchill behaves oddly, and Emma insults Miss Bates. Mr. Knightley reprimands her for this behavior, and she feels terrible.
Emma visits the Bates the next day and makes amends. Mr. Knightley leaves unexpectedly for London. While he is gone, Mrs. Weston reveals to Emma that Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax had been secretly attached and are now engaged! Emma reassures them that she does not love Frank Churchill, but she fears for Harriet. She is sure Harriet cares for Mr. Churchill, her encouragement helped her friend to feel so. But Harriet is not distressed by the news. She does not love Mr. Churchill, she is in love with Mr. Knightley! Hearing this makes Emma realize that she loves Mr. Knightley too! Uncertain what to do, Emma sends Harriet away, to give herself time to think. During her absence, Mr. Knightley returns from London, fearing how Emma will handle the news of Frank Churchill's engagement. Finding her undisturbed and not in love, Mr. Knightley tells Emma he loves her, and she returns his love. They learn that Frank Churchill kept the engagement secret because his aunt would disapprove. He and Jane had a fight after the party at Mr. Knightley's, and Miss Fairfax broke the engagement and took a governess job. Lucky for Mr. Churchill, his aunt died and his uncle proved more easygoing, and he was able to put things right with Miss Fairfax and ask to marry her properly.
Emma's only worries now are her father and Harriet Smith, and these worries are short-lived. Harriet met Mr. Martin in London, and he proposed to her and she accepted. As for Mr. Woodhouse, Mr. Knightley agrees to move to Hartfield, but that is not enough for Mr. Woodhouse. He finally agrees when a poultry robber is loose in the neighborhood, and the presence of Mr. Knightley is suggested to ease his fears. In September Harriet and Mr. Martin marry, in October Emma and Mr. Knightley, and in November Mr. Churchill and Miss Fairfax.
Emma Woodhouse: The daughter of Mr. Woodhouse, and sister to Isabella. Emma is beautiful, clever, and rich. She can be generous and caring, as in her behavior to her father and the poor family she visits. But she is also a snob, and she does not always suppress her honesty. She has good intentions with Harriet Smith, whom she befriends and tries to improve. But she ignores the girl's questionable origins and elevates her to a place where she is comfortable and acceptable nowhere. Emma has a strong imagination, and it often gets her in trouble. She loves matchmaking, and she looks so hard for clues that she will often manufacture them. Such is the case for Harriet Smith and Mr. Elton, then Harriet and Frank Churchill, then Harriet and Mr. Knightley. She also likes to gossip, and she invents an affair between Jane Fairfax and Mr. Dixon. She is a romantic, and this attention to the hearts of others keeps her from examining her own. When she does, she realizes that she loves Mr. Knightley. He loves her too, and they marry. Emma Woodhouse experiences a great reversal in character. When she insults Miss Bates at Box Hill, Mr. Knightley's reprimand really shames her. Emma reexamines not just this, but all her behavior. She sees how poorly she acted toward Jane Fairfax, Harriet Smith, and Miss Bates. The next morning she makes amends with Miss Bates, and she tries to help Jane Fairfax. Emma distances herself from Harriet, fearful she will hurt her again. Good conduct becomes her new goal, and she hopes to become a better person. She is rewarded with Mr. Knightley.
Mr. Woodhouse: Isabella and Emma's father. He is an old man, accustomed to the doting attention of his youngest daughter. He hates change, and therefore greets marriage as a misery. With little else to do he obsesses about his health and the health of others, making him a terrible hypochondriac. He is in constant conversation with Mr. Perry, the town doctor, as rich food, a slight drizzle, or a tiny breeze can send him into a panic. He shares his fears with all around him, and they often affect social engagements. He does not like big parties, or late nights. Mostly his good-natured friends accommodate him. His worry is incessant, and he would likely have a terrible life if not for his daughter. Emma humors him, cares for him, and tries to keep him busy with visits from friends and family.
Isabella Woodhouse/ Mrs. John Knightley: The eldest daughter of Mr. Woodhouse. She has been married for several years, and lives in London. Mr. Woodhouse greatly regrets her loss, and speaks of her as though she were dead or in prison, instead of happily married. She and her husband get along well, and she loves being a wife and mother. She shares her father's obsessive concerns about illness, which her husband stands as best he can.
Miss Taylor/Mrs. Weston: Emma's governess, she becomes Mrs. Weston at the start of the novel. As Miss Taylor the governess had some influence over the headstrong Miss Woodhouse, but she was more friend than teacher. She is a kind, wonderful woman, and has the respect of all of Highbury.
Mr. Weston: The good-natured man who marries Miss Taylor. He is also the father of Frank Churchill. He and Emma are good friends, but Mr. Weston is so agreeable that one could say he is good friends with everyone.
Mr. George Knightley: Mr. George Knightley is an old friend of the Woodhouse family. His house is nearby, and he pays many casual visits to Hartfield. He has known Emma since she was a child, and he has always advised her to do right. Emma did not always appreciate his advice, but he was always there for her. A kind, generous, but also rational man, he was the only person who would ever point out Emma's faults. Also her protector, Mr. Knightley became concerned about her behavior with Frank Churchill. Mr. Knightley did not like the young man, and would only later realize he was jealous of him. He guessed the secret engagement with Miss Fairfax, and he was happy to hear that Emma was not in love with Mr. Churchill, for both their sakes. Mrs. Weston wanted to pair him with Jane Fairfax, and Harriet fell in love with him herself. But despite his kind and gracious behavior to Harriet at the dance, his heart only belonged to Emma. When he finally told her, he learned his love was happily returned. Anxious to marry her, he offered to move to Hartfield, to make things easier on her father. Mr. Knightley is the kindest, most attractive man in the novel, and he and Emma finally marry.
Mr. John Knightley: George's brother, and husband to Isabella Woodhouse. He is generally a good man, but he can be irritable or ill tempered. He does not have much patience for either his wife or his father-in-law's hypochondria. He prefers to be at home, and parties make him uncomfortable. He is the first to guess that Mr. Elton has feelings for Emma, and later he is not surprised to hear of his brother's engagement to Emma. Despite Emma's claims to matchmaking, it seems like Mr. John Knightley is a much better judge of the human heart.
Mr. Elton: The town preacher. Beloved by all, yet he is not married. He falls in love with Emma, who wants him to marry Harriet. He is offended at this suggestion, and leaves town. When he returns it is with a new wife. Where once Emma saw a kind man, there is now smugness, resentment, and vanity. He believes his wife superior to Miss Woodhouse, and the couple never misses a chance to slight Emma or her friend.
Frank Churchill: The foppish son of Mr. Weston and his first wife. His aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Churchill, raised him. Under the care of his aunt, he is also subject to her whims. She uses her illness to manipulate him, and his visits to Highbury are at her mercy. But he also plans his visit around Miss Fairfax. He met her in Weymouth, and the two entered a secret engagement. The Westons hope he will marry Emma, so to divert attention from his secret, he flirts with her. He is not heartless, and claims he only flirted with her because he thought Emma knew his secret. Frank Churchill is charming and attractive, and for a brief period Emma thinks herself in love. Then she tries, unsuccessfully, to attach him to Miss Smith. Luckily it did not work, because soon after Mrs. Churchill's death the engagement is revealed. Frank Churchill begs forgiveness, and receives it. Despite his often-poor treatment of Jane, she agreed to marry him, and the two are very much in love.
Miss Bates: The town chatterbox. She is a sweet woman, and everyone loves her. Though she is not married, pretty, or rich, she has the respect and admiration of everyone. Emma finds her constant babbling annoying, and during the Box Hill party she insults Miss Bates. So wonderful is this woman that she does not get angry with Emma; rather she blames herself, and thinks Miss Woodhouse wonderful for putting up with her. It was very wrong for Emma to insult Miss Bates, who is so inferior in class to her. Emma seeks her forgiveness the next day, and gains it, of course.
Harriet Smith: The pretty but dull young woman whom Emma adopts as a sort of remodeling project. She is a boarder at Mrs. Goddard's, but her parentage is unknown. Emma thinks she must be from an aristocratic family, and soon Harriet believes this lie. Emma wants to improve her friend, and though she has good intentions, this elevation hurts Harriet. She refuses a proposal from Mr. Martin, whom Emma believes to be too low-class. Then Emma encourages her to set her sights on Mr. Elton. But the preacher falls in love with Emma, scorning Harriet as too low class. After this disaster, Emma tries to leave Harriet's love life alone. But two things happen to Harriet--she is saved by Mr. Knightley one day, Mr. Churchill the next. At the Crown Inn dance, when Mr. Elton refuses to dance with Harriet, Mr. Knightley comes along and asks her. Several days later, Mr. Churchill saves Harriet from some gypsies. Emma is sure Harriet is in love with Frank, so she encourages the girl to hope. But it is really Mr. Knightley she loves, and Harriet is to be disappointed again when Mr. Knightley and Emma proclaim their love. But luckily Harriet is not distressed, because Mr. Martin has proposed to her again, and she has accepted. Often indecisive, in the absence of Miss Woodhouse Harriet was able to make the best decision of her life.
the Martin family: The family of farmers who befriend Harriet. She spends several months with them before she meets Miss Woodhouse, and she and Mr. Martin grow to like each other. But after hearing Miss Woodhouse's opinions on his status, Harriet treats the family badly and refuses Mr. Martin's proposal. She stops visiting, and when she does, it is considered an insult. They are forgiving, however; the daughter Elizabeth breaks the ice, and Mr. Martin eventually proposes again. The second time he is accepted.
Mr. Martin: The farmer who loves Harriet. He proposes to her twice, he loves her so much. Emma thinks him too low class, but Harriet finally decides to marry him, and it is considered a good match.
Jane Fairfax: The orphaned daughter of Miss Jane Bates and Lieutenant Fairfax. A friend of her father's took her into his family and paid for her education, hoping to secure her a good position as a governess. With no dowry, she cannot expect to marry. But she falls in love with Frank Churchill, and the two become secretly engaged. Jane takes a governess position after she and Frank have a fight, but after Mrs. Churchill's death, he and Jane are able to marry. Jane is a beautiful, elegant, accomplished girl. Emma does not like her, though she cannot come up with a reason. Mr. Knightley thinks she is jealous, and Emma later realizes she is. When Emma realizes her error she does all she can to correct it, despite Jane's cold reception of her attempts.
Miss Hawkins/Mrs. Elton: The conceited social climber whom Mr. Elton marries. She thinks herself high class, though her only claim to greatness is her brother-in-law's fortune. She likes to be the center of attention and showcase how elegant, intelligent, and talented she is. Actually none of these things, Emma thinks she is an awful person. Everyone else puts up with her, but Emma finds this upstart an affront to her position, and is less forgiving. Mrs. Elton does not like Emma either, for many of the same reasons Emma does not like her.
Mrs. Woodhouse: The mother of Emma and Isabella, and wife to Mr. Woodhouse. She died when Emma was young, and is scarcely a memory. Miss Taylor was employed to perform some of the motherly duties, but without a real mother Emma soon became the mistress of the house.
James: The trusted carriage driver for the Woodhouse family.
Hannah: The daughter of James, the Woodhouse's carriage driver. Emma found the girl a job at Randalls, the nearby estate, so she could be by her father. This was a very kind thing for her to do, to take such an interest in a servant.
Miss Churchill/Mrs. Weston : Daughter of the Churchill's, wife to Mr. Weston, and mother of Frank Churchill. She loved Mr. Weston, but her marriage to him had angered her family and caused a rift. Therefore she was forced into a life less elegant, without any help from her family. She missed her old way of life, and lived so extravagantly that Mr. Weston lost much of his money. When she died, the Churchill's offered to take the boy and raise him, and Mr. Weston agreed.
Mr. Churchill: The meek husband of Mrs. Churchill, and uncle to Frank. He and his wife raised Frank. Mr. Churchill goes along with his wife's demands, and loves her very much. But at her death he emerges as capable of making his own decisions, and agrees to let Frank marry Jane.
Mrs. Churchill: The ill aunt of Frank Churchill, who helped raise him. She uses her illnesses to manipulate her nephew and husband into doing her will. No one likes her very much, nor her hold on Frank Churchill. She often calls Frank away at inconvenient times, because she knows she can. After her death, Frank is able to make his engagement to Miss Fairfax public.
Mr. Perry: The doctor whom Mr. Woodhouse constantly consults. His advice is strictly adhered to, even to the point of folly. Mr. Perry is also the subject of a disclosure suggesting Miss Fairfax and Mr. Churchill may be attached. Mr. Fairfax had knowledge of Mr. Perry's possible purchase of a carriage, which he could only have gotten from Jane. This suggests a secret correspondence, which in this time period is equivalent to being engaged.
Mrs. Bates: The old deaf widowed mother of Miss Bates.
Mrs. Goddard: The mistress of the school Harriet Smith attends. Harriet boards with her, living at her home.
Miss Nash: One of the teachers at Mrs. Goddard's, and one of the many who sing Mr. Elton's praises.
Henry Knightley: The oldest son of Isabella and John Knightley. Emma fears that if Mr. Knightley were to marry, little Henry would lose much of his inheritance. Emma sees this as a good reason for Mr. Knightley to remain single, but when she falls in love with him, this reason is forgotten.
John Knightley, Junior: One of Isabella and John's children.
Mr. Wingfield: The doctor Isabella Knightley consults with in London.
Colonel and Mrs. Campbell: Friends of Lieutenant Fairfax, they took on the cost of Jane's education. She lived with them as a member of their family, until the marriage of their daughter. Jane's education was meant to secure her a place as a governess, and that will soon be her fate.
Mr. Cole: The husband of Mrs. Cole, they are a couple best described as nouveau riche. They believe that their gains in money also give them gains in class, and they like to invite the gentry to their dinners and parties. Emma is offended at such boldness, and she plans on refusing any invitation. But when one finally comes and she sees that all her friends are going, she agrees to go herself.
Mrs. Cole: The wife of Mr. Cole.
Miss Campbell/Mrs. Dixon: The daughter of Colonel and Mrs. Campbell, she is the best friend of Jane Fairfax. Jane came to live with them in her youth, and the two, being of the same age, became friends. But Miss Campbell falls in love with Mr. Dixon, and after the two marry Jane will soon become a governess.
Mr. Dixon: The Irishman who married Miss Campbell, the daughter of Colonel Campbell, Miss Fairfax's benefactor. He once saved Miss Fairfax from drowning, and Emma imagines that they are in love. She shares this piece of invented gossip with Frank Churchill, not knowing he was attached to Miss Fairfax. The name 'Dixon' becomes a secret code, one with which Mr. Churchill teases Jane.
Lieutenant Fairfax: The father of Jane Fairfax. He married her mother, Miss Jane Bates, but died in battle soon after his daughter was born.
Miss Jane Bates: The youngest daughter of Mrs. Bates, and the sister to our Miss Bates. She married Lieutenant Fairfax, who died in battle. Miss Jane Bates also died, soon after giving birth to Jane Fairfax.
Elizabeth Martin: The sister of Mr. Martin, the farmer who proposed to Harriet. The family are farmers, and of lower class, but Elizabeth treats Harriet with polite kindness even after Harriet rejects her brother.
the Coxes: A lower class family in Highbury, they are friends with the Bates and the Eltons.
Mr. Suckling: The husband of Selina Hawkins, Mrs. Elton's sister. He is a rich man, with a great house and an elegant carriage. Mrs. Elton refers to him often, in the hope of elevating herself.
Selina Hawkins/Mrs. Suckling: The sister of Mrs. Elton. Selina married well, and her good fortune is a source of pride and vanity for Mrs. Elton.
Miss Bickerton: A boarder at Mrs. Goddard's school. She and Harriet are out walking when they are attacked by a band of gypsies. Miss Bickerton runs away, leaving Harriet to fend for herself.
Anna Weston: The baby born to Mr. and Mrs. Weston.
Hartfield: The Woodhouse home. Emma has never been more than a few hours journey from it, and she hopes to never leave.
Highbury: The town in which most of the story's characters live. It is a small, close-knit town, where news travels fast and there is little privacy.
Randalls: The home of the Westons, where Miss Taylor moves after her marriage. It is not even a mile away from Highbury, and the Woodhouses visit often.
backgammon: A board game which Emma often plays with her father. She loves him very much, and one proof of her love is her willingness to spend so many of her evenings at home alone with him, playing board games.
Brunswick Square: The area in London where Mr. John Knightley and his wife live. Mr. Woodhouse hates that his daughter lives so far away, and in such an unhealthy city.
Enscombe: The Scottish home of the Churchill family. They are forced to move south due to the aunt's ill health, and this move brings the family, including Frank, closer to Highbury.
wedding cake: The left-over cake from Miss Taylor and Mr. Weston's wedding becomes a symbol of Mr. Woodhouse's distaste for change. Mr. Woodhouse is a hypochondriac, and he hates any rich foods, which he sees as unhealthy. Therefore he was full of worries when the cake was in his home. He did not want anyone to eat it, but he also wanted it to be gone. He calms down after the cake is finally eaten.
Donwell Abbey: The home of Mr. George Knightley. It is a beautiful home, which Mr. Knightley agrees to give up in order to marry Emma. She cannot leave her father, so Mr. Knightley agrees to move to Hartfield and live with her there as her husband.
Donwell: The area of Highbury where both Mr. Knightley and the Martins reside. They are neighbors.
gruel: A thin porridge, which Mr. Woodhouse believes is a cure and a prevention of illness. Isabella agrees, but her husband finds this interest annoying.
Harriet's portrait: Emma, in another scheme to connect Miss Smith with Mr. Elton, suggests Harriet sit for a portrait. This was popular among the upper classes, and Emma agrees to paint it herself. Mr. Elton is properly excited, and Emma is sure he is falling in love with Harriet. But his interest lies only in the painter, though she knows nothing of his affections. Mr. Elton only interests himself in Harriet because she is Emma's friend, and he is only interested in the portrait because Emma is painting it.
riddles/charades: A game in which a word is expressed in a puzzling verse. Harriet is collecting some for a book, and she and Emma ask Mr. Elton for one. Harriet is too dull to get it, but Emma explains it to her. So intent in making them a couple, Emma imagines clues of affection in the charade. She later realizes that the praises were meant for her, not Harriet.
vicarage: The home of the town preacher, in this case, Mr. Elton.
Southend: Area of south east England, also called Southend on the Sea. Bathing was a popular health remedy at the time, and Isabella and Mr. John Knightley had spent some time there with their children. Mr. Woodhouse criticized the trip, his comments causing tension between himself and Mr. Knightley.
Surrey: County in south east England, south of London. This is the county in which Highbury is located.
Weymouth: The town where Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax met and fell in love. They are both quiet and unwilling to talk much about their time there.
Ford's: The town store where everyone shops. Frank Churchill buys some gloves here soon after he arrives, knowing that buying from Ford's will increase his reputation in town.
Crown Inn: An old building in Highbury that was intended to be a ballroom, but the lack of proper persons has left it standing vacant and unused for years. Frank Churchill, who loves dances, convinces the Westons to hold a dance here. During the dance, he and Emma dance together, but it is Harriet who has the special night. When without a partner, Mr. Elton snubs her; but Mr. Knightley comes to her aid. His kind act makes her fall in love with him.
fop: A vain or silly person, usually a man who is conceited about his appearance, also called a dandy or coxcomb. Frank Churchill engages in foppish behavior when he takes one day out of his two week visit to Highbury to travel to London to get his hair cut. It is not a short trip, and he does not feel ashamed of his impulsiveness. This lowers him in the eyes of Emma and especially Mr. Knightley.
pianoforte: A piano. An anonymous patron sends Jane Fairfax one as a present. Everyone wonders who sent it, though the most likely person is Colonel Campbell, Jane's benefactor. But there are many other suggestions. Emma thinks Mr. Dixon sent it. Mr. Dixon married the daughter of Colonel Campbell, but Emma thinks Jane and Mr. Dixon were in love. Mrs. Weston suspects Mr. Knightley sent the piano, but Emma thinks this is ridiculous. Only Mr. Knightley, who guesses the secret attachment between Miss Fairfax and Frank Churchill, is correct. The mystery sender was Frank Churchill.
Maple Grove: The home of the Sucklings, Mrs. Elton's sister and brother-in-law. Mr. Suckling is wealthy and has a lovely home, and Mrs. Elton never tires of talking about it. She compares everything to Maple Grove, and holds it to be perfection.
the Suckling's carriage: Mrs. Elton is very proud of her sister's carriage, which is a barouche-landau. This type of carriage has four wheels, with extra seats, and is very elegant. Seeing material things as proof of gentility, Mrs. Elton constantly brings up Mr. Suckling's carriage, assuming mention of it will elevate her.
Bath: City in south west England. It is a popular vacation spot, and Mrs. Elton offers to make introductions if Emma decides to go. Mrs. Elton is trying to be friendly, but Emma is offended by the suggestion that she would associate and be affiliated with any friend of Mrs. Elton's.
Richmond: Area of south west Greater London. Mrs. Churchill moves here because of her poor health. It is only nine miles from Highbury, which will allow Frank Churchill to visit more often.
Harriet's parcel: The parcel that Harriet shows to Emma contains small remembrances of Mr. Elton. Harriet prized them, but they are just trash. Realizing her folly, Harriet wants to burn them. The items are a piece of court-plaster, left over from when Mr. Elton cut his finger, and a pencil without lead. For her to have kept such insignificant trinkets is very embarrassing.
Box Hill: A destination a few hours ride away. The group decides to make a visit here, but the trip is a disaster. Frank Churchill, who had a fight yesterday with Jane Fairfax, his secret fiancée, is in a strange mood. He tries to stir up some excitement, but only ends up offending. Emma blunders too, when she insults the chatty Miss Bates. In private Mr. Knightley strongly reprimands Emma, and she deeply regrets her error. She is also upset that Mr. Knightley's opinion of her has been lessened.
Quote 1: "doing just what she liked; highly esteeming Miss Taylor's judgments, but directed chiefly by her own. The real evils, indeed, of Emma's situation were the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself...." Chapter 1, pg. 3
Quote 2: "from his habits of gentle selfishness, and of being never able to suppose that other people could feel differently from himself, he was very much disposed to think Miss Taylor had done a sad thing for herself as for them, and would have been a great deal happier if she had spent all the rest of her life at Hartfield." Chapter 1, pp. 5-6
Quote 3: "Mr. Knightley, in fact, was one of the few people who could see faults in Emma Woodhouse, and the only one who ever told her of them...." Chapter 1, pg. 8
Quote 4: "'I lay it down as a general rule, Harriet, that if a woman doubts as to whether she should accept a man or not, she certainly ought to refuse him. If she can hesitate as to "Yes," she ought to say "No" directly.'" Chapter 7, pg. 47
Quote 5: "Her character depends upon those she is with; but in good hands she will turn out a valuable woman." Chapter 8, pg. 53
Quote 6: "She did not always feel so absolutely satisfied with herself, so entirely convinced that her opinions were right and her adversary's wrong, as Mr. Knightley." Chapter 8, pg. 61
Quote 7: "'Whatever you say is always right, and therefore I suppose, and believe, and hope it must be so; but otherwise I could not have imagined it. It is so much beyond anything I deserve.'" Chapter 9, pg. 69
Quote 8: "'That is the case with us all, papa. One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.'" Chapter 9, pg. 76
Quote 9: "amusing herself in the consideration of the blunders which often arise from a partial knowledge of circumstances, of the mistakes which people of high pretensions to judgment are for ever falling into...." Chapter 13, pg. 104
Quote 10: "determined that he did know what he was talking about, and that he showed a very amiable inclination to settle early in life, and to marry from worthy motives." Chapter 24, pg. 186
Quote 11: "She had a little beauty and a little accomplishment, but so little judgment that she thought herself coming with superior knowledge of the world, to enliven and improve a country neighbourhood; and conceived Miss Hawkins to have held such a place in society as Mrs. Elton's consequence only could surpass." Chapter 33, pg. 256
Quote 12: "'I have no faith in Mrs. Elton's acknowledging herself the inferior in thought, word, or deed; or in her being under any restraint beyond her own scanty rule of good breeding. I cannot imagine that she will not be continually insulting her visitor with praise, encouragement, and offers of service; that she will not be continually detailing her magnificent intentions from the procuring her a permanent situation to the including her in those delightful exploring parties which are to take place in the barouche-landau.'" Chapter 33, pg. 264
Quote 13: "He could not see her in a situation of such danger without trying to preserve her. It was his duty." Chapter 41, pg. 320
Quote 14: "Donwell was famous for its strawberry-beds, which seemed a plea for the invitation; but no plea was necessary; cabbage-beds would have been enough to tempt the lady, who only wanted to be going somewhere." Chapter 42, pg. 324
Quote 15: "'Ah! ma'am, but there may be a difficulty. Pardon me, but you will be limited as to number--only three at once.'" Chapter 43, pg. 340
Quote 16: "She had been often remiss, her conscience told her so; remiss, perhaps, more in thought than fact; scornful, ungracious. But it should be so no more. In the warmth of true contrition she would call upon her the very next morning, and it should be the beginning, on her side, of a regular, equal, kindly intercourse." Chapter 44, pg. 346
Quote 17: "The intention, however, was indubitable; and whether it was that his manners had in general so little gallantry, or however else it happened, but she thought nothing became him more. It was with him of so simple, yet so dignified a nature. She could not but recall the attempt with great satisfaction." Chapter 45, pg. 354
Quote 18: "'To come among us with professions of openness and simplicity; and such a league in secret to judge us all! Here have we been the whole winter and spring, completely duped, fancying ourselves all on an equal footing of truth and honour, with two people in the midst of us who may have been carrying round, comparing and sitting in judgment on sentiments and words that were never meant for both to hear.'" Chapter 46, pg. 367
Quote 19: "It darted through her with the speed of an arrow that Mr. Knightley must marry no one but herself!" Chapter 47, pg. 375
Quote 20: "the resolution of her own better conduct, and the hope that, however inferior in spirit and gaiety might be the following and every future winter of her life to the past, it would yet find her more rational, more acquainted with herself, and leave her less to regret when it were gone." Chapter 48, pg. 388
Quote 21: "'A man would always wish to give a woman a better home than the one he takes her from; and he who can do it, where there is no doubt of her regard, must, I think, be the happiest of mortals.'" Chapter 49, pg. 393
Quote 22: "'If not in our dispositions...there is a likeness in our destiny; the destiny which bids fair to connect us with two characters so much superior to our own.'" Chapter 54, pg. 440
Class 1: The Woodhouses are the first family in Highbury, the highest in class, and there is no young woman in town who can equal Emma Woodhouse. Left without a counterpart, Emma has no one to replace her friend Miss Taylor. Because of her status, Emma's intimate acquaintances are restricted--she does not like to associate much with people who are of a lower class. This shrinks her circle of intimates to her family and Mr. Knightley.
Class 2: Emma tried to keep her father busy and often invited friends to Hartfield. Though she would invite people who were of a lower class to the house, she made a distinction between them and their more respectable friends. This "second set" included Mrs. and Miss Bates and Mrs. Goddard, three ladies whom Mr. Woodhouse loved to have visit. Mr. Woodhouse was not as class-conscious as his daughter, and he enjoyed their company as fully as if they were aristocrats.
Class 3: Emma assumes that because Mr. Martin is a farmer, he is illiterate. He is not, and his reading choices seem superior to Harriet's. Emma freely admits that she would never have noticed a man like Mr. Martin. He is not low class enough for her to help, but low class enough not to associate with. This sentiment reveals a snobbish nature, even dictating who deserves her aid. Miss Woodhouse likes the feeling charity gives her, and that is the only way she can tolerate any contact with the lower classes--as a patron.
Class 4: Emma assumes that because Mr. Martin is a farmer, he cannot write a decent letter. The letter had no grammatical errors, and was a nice composition. Emma still cannot imagine that the farmer wrote it, and she suggests that he got one of his sisters to write it. But it is not in a woman's style, and Emma bends herself into a knot trying to explain away his good letter. So afraid is she that her friend will marry Mr. Martin, that she ridiculously concludes that though Mr. Martin may write well, that is surely his only gift. Though only having met once, and briefly, Emma lets her ideas about class guide her opinion of Mr. Martin.
After Harriet decides (with much of Emma's urging) to decline Mr. Martin, Emma expresses her relief. She tells Harriet that if she married Mr. Martin, they could no longer be friends. Miss Woodhouse could not associate with her if she was Mrs. Martin. This sentiment is not only manipulative, but it shows more of a concern with appearances than true friendship and loyalty.
Class 5: Emma and Mr. Knightley are quarreling about Harriet's decision to refuse Mr. Martin. Mr. Knightley tries to get Emma to see how she has raised Harriet without proof, and without her friend's interests at heart. Emma is convinced that Harriet is superior to Mr. Martin, but Mr. Knightley thinks just the opposite. He is a rational man, and feels that Mr. Martin is the real catch, and could likely do better than Harriet. She has no fortune, and that alone discourages marriage. But Emma cannot see things this way--it is so important to her that Harriet be of the higher classes, that she has blinded herself to the truth.
Mr. Knightley has another criticism for Emma. In making Harriet think herself high class, she has made her friend out of place in her own class. Emma has raised her just enough to make her unhappy where she was before, unable to belong. But the upper class is no place for her either. Happiness and acceptance of your social standing is very important, and when that acceptance is disturbed, so is one's life and happiness.
Class 6: Emma is shocked to hear Mr. Elton profess his love to her. All along she was planning a match between him and Harriet, but Mr. Elton is offended at the suggestion. He only liked Harriet because she was Miss Woodhouse's friend. He never thought of Harriet, who he views as his inferior. He knows he could do better, and he has fallen for the great Miss Woodhouse. Emma is perhaps more offended at this lower class connection than Mr. Elton was at the suggestion of Harriet; and everyone ends up sad and frustrated when they try to exceed their social standing.
Class 7: Emma, having refused and hurt Mr. Elton, consoles herself with the idea that he probably does not love her. She expects that he saw a chance to increase his social standing, and tried to grab it. She was still smarting from the suggestion that she could love such a man, a mere preacher. Emma gains more consolation from the idea that Harriet does not have one of those superior natures that feel deeply, both pain and love. She expects her friend will recover soon, because her feelings are not as delicate.
Class 8: Mrs. and Miss Bates are low on the social ladder. They do not have much money, and depend greatly on the kindness of their neighbors. Emma has not been a very attentive friend, and Mr. Knightley often reminds her of this. Emma fears that associating with these women might bring down her social standing, and she lets her class concerns override her normally charitable nature.
Class 9: Mr. Elton makes a match that does increase his social standing. Mrs. Elton has a nice fortune, but has no strong class connections. Her father is a merchant, and her one pride is her sister's marriage to a very wealthy man. Mrs. Elton is a social climber, thinking that money alone equals class. Her high opinion of herself annoys Emma, the real lady. She can see through Mrs. Elton's charade, and cannot stand her.
Class 10: Harriet has to return a visit Elizabeth Martin paid her. She lets Emma convince her to make it brief, and the visit ends up being so brief that the Martins are offended. Harriet spent several months with the family, who were very kind to her; such a snub was very unfair. Harriet felt awful, but Miss Woodhouse had convinced her that the Martins were too low class to associate with. Emma knows the Martins are good, caring people; but because of their social status alone they cannot be friends.
Class 11: The Crown Inn had stood empty because of the lack of "proper" families available to dance there. Frank Churchill does not have such class issues, and he sees nothing wrong with inviting questionable families to the dance. Emma sees this as a flaw in the young man, but she excuses it as a product of his eagerness.
Class 12: Emma does not like social climbers. The Coles are a Highbury family whose wealth has recently increased. They started living more grandly, and wanted friends to match. They are having a party, and Emma is looking forward to getting her invitation so she can reject it. She wants to teach them a lesson, that one cannot overstep their class without consequences.
Class 13: Mrs. Elton chatters on about Mr. Suckling, her brother-in-law, and all his great possessions. She has convinced herself that she is high class, and she behaves as such. Thinking Miss Woodhouse her equal, she offers her an introduction should she ever go to Bath. Emma is offended, as she would never want to associate with any friend of Mrs. Elton. Most likely Mrs. Elton was just trying to be nice, but Emma sees only an affront to her social standing.
Class 14: Emma strongly disapproves of Mrs. Elton's behavior, and is skeptical of her desires to help Jane Fairfax find a governess position.
"'I have no faith in Mrs. Elton's acknowledging herself the inferior in thought, word, or deed; or in her being under any restraint beyond her own scanty rule of good breeding. I cannot imagine that she will not be continually insulting her visitor with praise, encouragement, and offers of service; that she will not be continually detailing her magnificent intentions from the procuring her a permanent situation to the including her in those delightful exploring parties which are to take place in the barouche-landau.'" Chapter 33, pg. 264
Emma does not realize that many, especially the Bates, could accuse her of similar behavior. She does not always give with feeling, or act with her heart; her class concerns often guide her behavior.
Class 15: When Mr. Weston describes Mrs. Churchill as an upstart, Mrs. Elton perks up. Though she is one herself, she does not realize it, and chooses instead to criticize a family she knew in Maple Grove. The family has money but no connections, and they act as though they are members of the aristocracy. There are clues that Mr. Suckling is not so long established himself, but Mrs. Elton does not linger on these points. She seems terribly eager to criticize behavior, which she engages in herself.
Class 16: Social customs can sometimes overrule class. Though Mrs. Elton is not as respectable as Miss Woodhouse, she is allowed to begin the dance. Brides get such honors, and Emma has to nurse her wounded pride. Mrs. Elton is ecstatic to receive the honor, even though the Westons and Emma know how ridiculous it is for Miss Woodhouse to be second to Mr. Elton.
Class 17: Miss Woodhouse and the Eltons had been planning a trip to Box Hill. It will be a small, simple party, without the display of one of Mrs. Elton's parties. But Mr. Weston invites Mrs. Elton, much to Emma's dismay. She dislikes Mrs. Elton, and more than that she fears being called a member of Mrs. Elton's party. Such a social blunder would be very embarrassing.
Class 18: The idea of a match between Harriet and Mr. Knightley is shocking to Emma. Even though Harriet is her good friend, she is not respectable enough for Mr. Knightley. Emma thinks of the shame and embarrassment for Mr. Knightley, and wishes she had never made Harriet believe such a match was possible.
Class 19: Mr. Knightley has news for Emma--Harriet has agreed to marry Mr. Martin. Emma, at first shocked, soon finds relief in the match. Mr. Knightley reminds her that the class difference between the couple is slight, and that both have good characters. Harriet realized how ridiculous it was to aspire to Mr. Elton, and when Mr. Martin asked her, she had no good reason to refuse. She attached herself to the correct person, from a class standpoint, and so did Emma, and both end up happy. Only Jane Fairfax surpasses her class and still has a happy ending. Perhaps because her manner is so elegant and genteel, her weak origins can be forgiven.
Gossip 1: The people of Highbury have little to amuse themselves with except the people of Highbury. Mr. Elton is a particular favorite, especially among the ladies. When Mr. Elton leaves town in a secretive way (he is going to London where he will get Harriet's portrait framed), the town is abuzz with the cause. Mr. Perry suspects a woman, and Miss Nash, one of the teachers at Mrs. Goddard's, thinks any woman Mr. Elton attended to would be very lucky.
Gossip 2: Emma tells Harriet she never plans to marry. She has the economic means to remain single, unlike Miss Bates. Harriet wonders if everyone who ends up an old maid ends up like Miss Bates. Emma sincerely hopes not; she considers Miss Bates a tiresome, annoying woman. She is a gossip, and Emma expresses her distaste at this behavior. She hates the idea of Miss Bates telling people about Miss Woodhouse, though she herself enjoys talking about others.
Gossip 3: Miss Bates has received a letter from her niece Jane Fairfax, whom Emma does not like. Miss Bates relates everything from Jane's letter, and does everything except read it, because Emma does not give her the opportunity. Miss Bates reveals information about the family Jane is staying with, the Campbells, and the family their daughter has married into, the Dixons. Emma usually does not care about Jane Fairfax, but this gossip from Miss Bates plants a seed in Emma's head. She begins to conjure up her idea about an affair between Jane Fairfax and Mr. Dixon, the husband of Miss Campbell, who is Miss Fairfax's best friend.
Gossip 4: Emma is hungry for news of Frank Churchill, and she cannot understand why Jane Fairfax, who knew him at Weymouth, will not tell her all about the young man. Emma asks Jane many personal questions about Mr. Churchill, which she is reluctant to answer. She only volunteers that her public meetings with Frank Churchill did not acquaint them enough for such an appraisal. She will give the opinion of others, but not her own. Emma, who enjoys gossip, is annoyed that Jane will not share her unique opinion. She is the only person in town besides Mr. Weston who has seen him recently, and Emma thinks that suppressing such precious information is not fair.
Gossip 5: Mr. Knightley reaches Emma first with the news of Mr. Elton's engagement. Then Miss Bates runs in, nearly falling all over herself, so anxious is she to share the news. Highbury is a small town where information travels fast, and some people want the privilege of first knowledge. Miss Bates is no exception.
Miss Bates and the others discuss the suddenness of the engagement. Miss Bates suggests that many thought Mr. Elton would settle with a young woman in town, a woman above his social rank (Emma). There is a double bit of gossip in this speech of Miss Bates'. She mentions that Mrs. Cole whispered to her the possibility of Mr. Elton settling in town. She breaks off before mentioning Miss Woodhouse, but Emma knows to whom she is referring. Apparently Highbury had been buzzing with the idea of a potential match between Mr. Elton and Miss Woodhouse.
Gossip 6: People in Highbury do not shy away from talking about other people. Therefore Emma becomes suspicious when Frank Churchill seems as unwilling as Jane Fairfax to talk about their time at Weymouth. When he finally opens up, he keeps his comments very discreet, claiming that he should let Miss Fairfax judge how well they were acquainted.
Emma, with the grand idea of an affair between Miss Fairfax and Mr. Dixon spinning in her mind, tries to get some information from Frank Churchill. She asks him about the Campbells, and when she hears that Mr. Dixon preferred Miss Fairfax's piano playing to that of his fiancée, Miss Campbell, Emma thinks she has more proof for her theory. These idle bits of gossip inflame Emma's imagination, and the likelihood of the affair grows in her mind.
Gossip 7: At the Cole's party, the news is spread that Jane Fairfax has received a pianoforte from an anonymous patron. Mrs. Cole, who was at the Bates', tells Emma about the surprise. The likely giver was Colonel Campbell, Jane's benefactor. Mrs. Cole and the others can think of no one else who could have sent such a gift. Jane does not want to discuss the gift, choosing rather to wait for a letter than to jump to conclusions. But the pianoforte is a hot topic of conversation, and everyone enters into it.
Emma's imagination can supply another suspect besides Colonel Campbell. Running wild with her idea of an affair between Miss Fairfax and Mr. Dixon, Emma has it in her head that Mr. Dixon sent the pianoforte. And to make matters worse, she shares this totally invented rumor with Frank Churchill. Emma does not know how much damage she is inflicting with her gossip. Only later does she learns about the secret engagement between Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill, and realize her mistake.
Gossip 8: Mrs. Weston believes that Jane Fairfax and Mr. Knightley like each other, and she shares this rumor with Emma. She even imagines that Mr. Knightley sent the pianoforte! Emma is not convinced by Mrs. Weston's evidence, and warns her friend not take on one of her own faults--letting her imagination run away with her. Emma does not seem to realize that she is doing just that in the case of Jane Fairfax and Mr. Dixon.
Gossip 9: Emma is convinced by Mrs. Weston and Miss Bates to go and see Jane's new pianoforte. She arrives, and conversation soon turns to the subject of who sent the gift. Colonel Campbell is still high in the running, but Jane will not entertain the idea. She is unwilling to speak of anything like that until she has some proof. Gossip is not something based on fact and evidence, and this further unwillingness to engage in it shows the disparity between Jane Fairfax and most of Highbury, including Emma.
Gossip 10: Despite his dislike of Mrs. Churchill, and the likelihood of her manipulating Frank with her illness, Mr. Weston does not want to speak poorly of her to Mrs. Elton. He mentions family difficulties, but those are to be kept private. He later worries that what little he said might have been too much, and he tries his best to speak well of Mrs. Churchill to Mrs. Elton.
Mrs. Elton, after hearing that Mrs. Churchill was a social climber, uses this opening to gossip about a neighbor of hers at Maple Grove. She describes a family who equated wealth with good breeding, and she criticizes them harshly.
Gossip 11: When the subject is herself, Emma is less talkative. Mr. Knightley wants to know why Mr. Elton slighted Miss Smith. Since Miss Smith is known mainly as Emma's friend, he expects the slight has more to do with her. Emma only reveals her attempt at matchmaking with Mr. Elton and Harriet. She keeps Mr. Elton's profession of love secret, because it would embarrass her.
Gossip 12: The story of the gypsy attack quickly circulates around town. Harriet was in danger from a band of gypsies, but Frank Churchill saved her. Such a dangerous situation, occurring in Highbury, is certain to become gossip.
Gossip 13: Miss Bates has such a big mouth that she unknowingly lets slip a piece of information which connects her niece and Frank Churchill. Frank Churchill knows about the Perry's plan to purchase a carriage, but Mrs. Weston denies sending him the news, because she did not know it herself. But Miss Bates knew it, and so did Jane--evidence to Mr. Knightley of a secret connection between the two young people.
Gossip 14: Feeling he had enough proof, Mr. Knightley asked Emma if she knows anything about a secret affair between Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax. He was not trying to start a rumor, only trying to find out the truth. He cares for Emma, and is afraid Frank is deceiving her.
Gossip 15: Emma is anxious at the news of a connection between Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill, because she remembers the rumor she shared with him. Not knowing to whom his heart was attached, Emma acted callously, telling him something she created out of bits of gossip and her own imagination.
Gossip 16: When Emma visits Jane Fairfax, she already knows about the engagement with Frank Churchill. But the others do not know this, and they take great pains to hide the information. Miss Bates nearly lets it slip, but it is Mrs. Elton who behaves the worst. She speaks in a way obvious in meaning to Emma, and she seems to greatly enjoy having knowledge that Miss Woodhouse does not have. Information can make a person feel important and special, and Mrs. Elton is relishing this feeling.
Gossip 17: The news of Emma and Mr. Knightley's engagement travels quickly through the small village. It is a topic of discussion, as people debate whether the bride or groom received the most promotion from the match. Only Mrs. Elton, who cannot help disparaging Miss Woodhouse, does not approve. She does not expect the couple to last long.
Gossip 18: When Emma meets Frank Churchill for the first time since having learned of his engagement, the subject of Mr. Dixon inevitably comes up. Emma is now ashamed of her idle gossip, and Frank Churchill admits his own shame for deceiving Emma. They have both undergone a change, Emma most of all. The incident involving this rumor is best evidence of it.
Guidance 1: Emma takes great pride in having made the match between Miss Taylor and Mr. Weston. She encouraged Mr. Weston to visit, and was an advocate for their relationship. Though she actually did very little, Emma considers even a lucky guess a success. Emma likes the idea of her being a matchmaker, able to bring lovers together.
Guidance 2: Mr. Woodhouse is a hypochondriac, and he listens intently to any advice his physician Mr. Perry gives him. Mr. Woodhouse was very worried about his friends and family eating the rich wedding cake, and only a few words from Mr. Perry would help calm him. Unlike his daughter, Mr. Woodhouse can be influenced; he even looks for it.
Guidance 3: Emma decides to befriend Harriet Smith with the intention of improving her. She would help her both intellectually and socially, becoming her mentor. Emma really likes this idea, and thinks it will be a good project. She has no idea that something she enters into so lightly will affect her new friend so much, in both good ways and bad.
Guidance 4: After meeting Mr. Martin on the road, Emma fears that Harriet's heart may be slipping. To counteract this, Emma praises Mr. Elton, whom she believes is a better match, and criticizes Mr. Martin. To compare the two men is not fair, but Emma does it anyway. She then goes on to tell Harriet some good things Mr. Elton said about her, which washes Mr. Martin from her friend's mind, at least temporarily.
Guidance 5: Mr. Knightley and Mrs. Weston argue about the value of Emma and Harriet's friendship. Mrs. Weston thinks that in improving Harriet, Emma will herself be improved. But Mr. Knightley is not so sure. Certainly Emma can be a strong teacher; Mr. Knightley sees how she trained Miss Taylor to be an obedient wife. Mr. Knightley is the only person who can exert much pressure on Miss Woodhouse.
Guidance 6: Emma worked to increase Harriet's self-esteem, hoping to make her open to an attachment with Mr. Elton. Before meeting Miss Woodhouse, Harriet never would have thought of such a connection; but Miss Woodhouse's praise raised her sights.
Guidance 7: In speaking of Harriet Smith, Mr. Knightley remarks how impressionable the girl is: "'Her character depends upon those she is with; but in good hands she will turn out a valuable woman.'" Chapter 8, pg. 53 He fears that a girl so obedient might be lead astray by the imaginative Miss Woodhouse.
Guidance 8: Harriet does not understand Mr. Elton's charade, so Miss Woodhouse interprets it for her. Emma is so eager to be a matchmaker that she sees only what she wants in the riddle. She ignores clues that lead away from Harriet, and finds only affection for Harriet. The gullible young girl trusts Miss Woodhouse's opinion completely, which turns out to be a dangerous thing to do. Emma's absolute certainty about the match leads Harriet to believe not only that it could happen, but that she deserves it. Emma has wiped out class awareness, but only from Harriet's mind.
Guidance 9: Emma goes to hilarious lengths to force Harriet and Mr. Elton together. She lags behind, talks to a small child, and finally breaks her own bootlace so they will have to go inside the vicarage. Emma does everything within her power to unite the two, but unfortunately she has little success.
Guidance 10: Another Knightley, this time John, tries to instruct Emma to alter her behavior. Mr. John Knightley believes that Mr. Elton likes Miss Woodhouse, and he encourages Emma to act more reserved around the preacher. Emma is surprised, as such a thought never entered her mind. She does not heed Mr. Knightley's advice, even though it is very good.
Guidance 11: After Mr. Elton's confession of love, Emma realizes how badly she led her friend astray. She saw that she had manufactured the affair out of nothing, and now her naive friend was going to get hurt. She had misread the charade, the portrait, all their conversations--she had been wrong on nearly every count. She had convinced Harriet to love this man, when Mr. Martin would have been a good catch. Her guidance ruined Harriet's chances for happiness, despite her good intentions.
Guidance 12: When Mr. Knightley complains about Frank Churchill's inability to sway his aunt, Emma reminds Mr. Knightley that though he may like to influence "little minds," when such minds belong to wealthy people with a lot of power, they are harder to budge. Emma has seen how easy it is to sway the "little mind" of her friend Harriet, but Mrs. Churchill is no Harriet Smith. The more developed the will, the more accustomed to its' own way, the more difficult the task. The latter point is one reason Emma Woodhouse herself is so hard to govern.
Guidance 13: Emma, despite the misfortunes she has caused Harriet, still wishes she could manipulate her friend's feelings. But this time she wishes for the power to make her stop loving Mr. Elton, and therefore stop hurting. But Emma was afraid only another object of affection would work to clear her mind, and Emma began searching for a new mate for Harriet.
Guidance 14: Emma does not use her wits just to influence others. When Mrs. Weston suggests that Mr. Knightley likes Jane Fairfax, and sent her the pianoforte, Emma searches for things to contradict this idea. She settles on the idea that Mr. Knightley is not impulsive and silly, qualities that must describe the sender of the pianoforte. Emma convinces herself, proving again that her reason is sufficient to calm a troubled mind or heart.
Guidance 15: Harriet Smith is a very indecisive girl. In the absence of Miss Woodhouse, she has trouble deciding what she likes and wants. At Ford's, she is annoyingly indecisive about where to have a package sent, and Emma finally comes up and does it for her.
Guidance 16: Emma is not the only one trying to sway others. Mrs. Elton pities Jane Fairfax's situation, and tries to convince Emma to join her in helping the young girl. Emma, who doesn't like Jane Fairfax, is not easily swayed. It is the girl's fate to end up a governess, and Emma does know how to change this. Mrs. Elton wants to look for a good family to place Jane with, help which the young woman does not want.
Guidance 17: Emma, thinking Harriet in love with Frank Churchill, encourages her friend that such an attachment is not impossible. She warns Harriet to be cautious and observant, but not to lose hope. Emma will regret this piece of advice when she learns it is not Frank Churchill whom Harriet loves, but Mr. Knightley!
Guidance 18: Mr. Knightley, always concerned about Miss Woodhouse, reprimands her when she insults Miss Bates. He has known Emma since she was a child, and he is disappointed to hear her speak so cruelly to an old friend, whose social position is inferior to her own. He does not realize it, but his opinion holds great importance for Emma; she feels ashamed and cries all the way home. The next day she goes to see Miss Bates, thus beginning her transformation into a more sensitive person.
Guidance 19: After hearing the news of Frank Churchill's secret engagement to Jane Fairfax, Emma feels terrible. She encouraged her friend to aspire to this young man, and now he is attached to someone else. Once again her advice has hurt her friend. Acting out of a desire to improve her friend socially, but not in character, Emma's suggestions have all had bad results.
Emma is even more distressed when she learns it is Mr. Knightley, not Frank Churchill, whom Harriet loves. And Miss Smith claims that were it not for Miss Woodhouse's encouragement, she never would have thought of the match. Emma's counsel has backfired onto herself, because it is not until Harriet declares her love for him that Emma realizes she loves Mr. Knightley too. Emma makes a few comments about the class differences, but mostly keeps quiet after Harriet tells her the news.
Guidance 20: Only after Harriet's declaration of love for Mr. Knightley does Emma realize that her own heart belongs to him as well. She thinks back on all the advice Mr. Knightley has given her over the years, and she regrets not having listened to him. He was usually much more on target than she, and Emma fears she will soon lose his attention. A married Mr. Knightley will not care about the headstrong Miss Woodhouse in the neighboring house.
Guidance 21: When Emma and Mr. Knightley are discussing spoiled children, Emma's name obviously comes up. She credits Mr. Knightley with helping lead her to the right path. His influence helped to humble her, making her a better person. But Mr. Knightley thinks she could have changed without him. His influence might even have harmed her, but he is glad it did not. Unlike Emma, he does not exalt his advice, or give himself much power over the lives and destinies of others. Perhaps this is why his advice usually gave the best results.
Marriage 1: Marriage is never a completely happy event. Someone is often left behind. In the case of Miss Taylor's marriage, it is the Woodhouses. Mr. Woodhouse, who hated change, felt this most of all. His daughter had married years ago, and he still did not approve of the idea. With his own wife long dead, Mr. Woodhouse sees marriage only as something that takes the people he loves away from him.
Marriage 2: Mr. Weston's first marriage, to Miss Churchill, also involved a change that was hard to live with. The Churchill's did not approve of the match, and cut ties with their daughter. Miss Churchill was used to a life of luxury, and as Mrs. Weston she expected the same treatment. She was happy with her husband but not her fortune, and she missed her family home. Poor Mr. Weston lived beyond his means to please his wife, and the marriage lost him much money.
Marriage 3: Mr. Knightley suggests that Miss Taylor leaned how to be a good wife from Emma. Her strong will, like a husband's, demanded obedience. When Miss Taylor and Emma became friends, Emma won the authority in the house, and became the dominant figure. She could listen to Miss Taylor's advice, but she did not have to take it.
Marriage 4: Mrs. Weston, who is considering a match between Emma and Frank Churchill, still does not think Emma is ready for marriage. Emma has never traveled far from Hartfield, and like her father she is not accustomed to change. To take her away from her father and Hartfield, which marriage would certainly do, she does not think is a good idea at present.
Marriage 5: Emma is a romantic, and she does not think Harriet should accept Mr. Martin's proposal if she has the slightest doubt. Of course Emma has other reasons for criticizing the match, as she hopes to keep Harriet free of such a low connection. But Emma thinks carefully about her own heart at least, and when she is the subject, men undergo much scrutiny.
Marriage 6: Emma has not even met Frank Churchill, but already she imagines that he would be a perfect candidate for her husband. Certainly Emma has been influenced by the townspeople's constant praise of him; but it is the family connection that attracts her. To marry Frank Churchill would create an alliance with the Westons, bringing Emma into closer contact with her beloved former governess. Marriage was often a calculated move, meant to help one gain wealth or social standing. Emma is allowing herself to be guided not by her heart, but by practicality.
Marriage 7: Emma is shocked to hear that Mr. Elton is going to get married. Her father, always suspicious of matrimony, objects that the preacher is too young. Mr. Woodhouse saw a young man who lived well and was free to visit as he pleased; marriage, in his mind, will change all that. Mr. Woodhouse believes that everyone who marries is one more person who will slowly disappear from his life; in reality they will still be present, but in a different role. A change of any kind is enough to distress Mr. Woodhouse, and marriage causes most of the changes in Highbury.
Marriage 8: Emma is shocked to hear Mrs. Weston's suggestion of a match between Jane Fairfax and Mr. George Knightley. Emma's real objection lies in her affection for the man, but she is not aware of it yet. Instead she uses the excuse that Mr. Knightley cannot marry, because if he does little Henry Knightley, the son of Isabella and John Knightley, will not inherit Donwell. The family home would pass to Henry if his uncle did not marry or have any children of his own, and Emma tells Mrs. Weston that it would be tragic if that were to occur.
Marriage 9: Mrs. Elton loves to talk about Maple Grove, the elegant home of her sister and brother-in-law. After the marriage Mrs. Elton (then Miss Hawkins) spent several months there, and it became like her home. She tells Emma that one of the "evils of matrimony" is the obligation for the wife to leave her family home and move to a new one, even a new county as Mrs. Elton has done. Therefore the new bride is always looking for things that remind her of home. Emma does not pay much attention to her, despite how much these comments apply to her. A reluctance to leave Hartfield, her family home, is one of the main reasons why Emma has not married, nor is even hoping to soon or ever.
Marriage 10: There are many perks to being a new bride, such as extra attention or preferences. Usually the most respectable woman, of the highest class, is given the distinction of beginning a dance. In Highbury this would always be Miss Woodhouse, and she is accustomed to the honor. But at this dance the new Mrs. Elton is present, and as a new bride she expects to be given the honor of starting the dance. Emma is annoyed, and suggests that such preferential treatment almost made her want to get married herself. Status is very important to Emma, and she does not like to be upstaged, especially by someone inferior. It is not surprising that Emma would find an elevation in position a good reason for marrying.
Marriage 11: When discussing his party, Mr. Knightley suggests that the only woman he would ever allow to invite or arrange plans with him would be Mrs. Knightley. As he does not yet have a wife, he prefers to make all the arrangements himself. Mrs. Elton tries to take over the preparations, insisting that only a married woman can be trusted with such details. Mr. Knightley seems to agree with this distinction, but insists that only his own wife would be given such responsibilities. Mrs. Elton seems to think that marriage is a transformative event, making the woman more responsible and capable.
Marriage 12: Frank Churchill's criticism of the Eltons' quick courtship was meant to hurt Jane, but it also has a seed of truth. Marriage is a big commitment, especially in this era when the person you married significantly affected your social standing. To make a quick decision could be disastrous for yourself and your family. Miss Churchill, Frank's mother, was disinherited when she chose to marry the less well-to-do Mr. Weston, and Frank followed in his mother's footsteps with a secret engagement to a young woman his aunt never would have approved of. With so much at stake, a long and public courtship seems most sensible.
Marriage 13: Emma shows herself to be very similar to her father when she thinks of the possibility of Mr. Knightley marrying. Like Mr. Woodhouse, Emma also does not like change. She is accustomed to Mr. Knightley's daily visits, in which she is the object of his attention. They are friendly and familiar, characteristics that must certainly change after his marriage to Harriet Smith, or any other woman. The importance and isolation of the family unit meant that any friend who got married would become less available, and Emma cannot stand this idea.
Marriage 14: More than romance, marriage is meant to give security. Mr. Knightley describes one of the grounds for a good marriage:
"'A man would always wish to give a woman a better home than the one he takes her from; and he who can do it, where there is no doubt of her regard, must, I think, be the happiest of mortals.'" Chapter 49, pg. 393
Mr. Knightley does not think Frank Churchill is deserving in character of Jane Fairfax. Yet the marriage is acceptable, because he will be able to raise her station, and her good influence will hopefully elevate and improve his character. The man supplies the economic center of the marriage, the woman the moral.
Marriage 15: Mrs. Elton playfully scolds her husband for leaving her so long at the Bates'. He was attending to work, and she waited with her friends until he showed up. She uses words like "lord" and "master" to refer to her husband, and suggests obedience as an essential quality in a wife.
Marriage 16: Mr. Woodhouse is depressed about the impending marriage of his daughter and Mr. Knightley. To lose Emma is a change he could not suffer. Even Mr. Knightley's offer to come and live at Hartfield with them is not enough, because it would still alter Mr. Woodhouse's small universe. But Mr. Knightley becomes an asset to Mr. Woodhouse when a poultry thief attacks Highbury. For this added measure of security, Mr. Woodhouse will agree to the change and approve the marriage day.
When Emma and Mr. Knightley finally marry, they do not have a grand ceremony. More concerned with having their friends there, only Mrs. Elton, the queen of pomp, finds any fault with the ceremony.
Emma Woodhouse is a beautiful, bright, well-off young woman. She is the youngest daughter of Mr. Woodhouse. Her older sister married years ago, and their mother died even longer ago--two events which left Emma as mistress of the house. The only real check on her rule was Miss Taylor, her kind and affectionate governess. For sixteen years Miss Taylor lived with the Woodhouse family, and she became a particular friend to Emma, in spirit more a sister. Under such kind care, Emma lived,
"doing just what she liked; highly esteeming Miss Taylor's judgments, but directed chiefly by her own. The real evils, indeed, of Emma's situation were the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself...." Chapter 1, pg. 3
She was still a generally charming and kindhearted young woman, and her only recent sorrow was the loss of Miss Taylor. She had married the nice Mr. Weston, and she no longer lived with the Woodhouse family. Though it was a good match, and Emma had wanted this good fortune for her governess, she could not help but feel sadness. Emma had been Miss Taylor's single charge since her sister Isabella married seven years ago, and it was hard for Emma to imagine spending her days without her. Though her new home was only a half mile from Hartfield, as Mrs. Weston she would not have the same time for Emma. And though Emma loved her father, he was not a playmate or a good conversationalist like Miss Taylor.
Hartfield lies within the village of Highbury, but unfortunately there is no one in Highbury who can replace Miss Taylor in Emma's life. The Woodhouses are the most respectable family in Highbury, but Emma and her father still lead a rather solitary life. Mr. Woodhouse is a hypochondriac, fearful of any amusement. Hating change, he takes Miss Taylor's departure very hard, and Emma, though sad herself, does her best to comfort him. He had not yet grown accustomed to Isabella's marriage, and the removal of Miss Taylor made him even more depressed and disapproving of matrimony:
"from his habits of gentle selfishness, and of being never able to suppose that other people could feel differently from himself, he was very much disposed to think Miss Taylor had done a sad thing for herself as for them, and would have been a great deal happier if she had spent all the rest of her life at Hartfield." Chapter 1, pp. 5-6
Topic Tracking: Marriage 1
Topic Tracking: Class 1
Though Miss Taylor's new home at Randalls was lovely, Mr. Woodhouse did not understand why she needed to move away. He worried about visiting Randalls, and was only cheered by the thought that James, his servant, would be able to see his daughter, Hannah, when they visited.
Emma tried to keep her father happy with a game of backgammon, but they were interrupted by Mr. George Knightley. Mr. Knightley, thirty-seven, is a reasonable man, a good friend of the family. Isabella is married to his brother John, and Mr. Knightley had just returned from Brunswick Square with news of the family. Mr. Woodhouse worries over the rain and Mr. Knightley's walk, then expresses his sorrow about Miss Taylor. Mr. Knightley is happy about the marriage, and he scolds the Woodhouses for their long faces. "Mr. Knightley, in fact, was one of the few people who could see faults in Emma Woodhouse, and the only one who ever told her of them...." Chapter 1, pg. 8 He is skeptical when Emma tells him that she made the match between Miss Taylor and Mr. Weston. No one thought Mr. Weston would marry again, but Emma knew he would. Mr. Knightley suggests this was just a lucky guess, but Emma is still pleased with herself. She is convinced she promoted the relationship, and she is deaf to Mr. Knightley's criticisms. She promises only one more match--she wants to find a bride for Mr. Elton, the village preacher. Both men suggest that she ask him to dinner instead, as Mr. Knightley is quite sure that Mr. Elton, who is in his mid-twenties, can find a wife himself.
Topic Tracking: Guidance 1
Mr. Weston was a native of Highbury, born into a family of the higher class. He was well educated and chose the military as his profession. He met a wealthy young woman, Miss Churchill, whom he married despite her family's objections. Her family disowned her, and though she loved her husband, she missed Enscombe and her previous life of ease. She died after giving birth to a boy, Frank, whom Mr. Churchill and Mrs. Churchill took to raise.
Topic Tracking: Marriage 2
After this Mr. Weston went into trade, and lived the next twenty years happy and alone in Highbury. His money belonged to himself, as his son would be the Churchill's heir, not his own. Therefore he had the money to marry Miss Taylor, a governess with little dowry. Frank lived with the Churchill's, though he was a great topic of conversation and curiosity in Highbury. The curiosity increased with the hope that Frank would visit his father and new stepmother. The town discussed it over tea, drooled over his well-written letters, and hoped for the day they could see this mysterious favored son. Mrs. Weston was happy and anxious to meet her new son, though she often regretted leaving Emma behind. But she felt comfort that Emma could take good care of herself.
After several weeks Mr. Woodhouse grew less depressed over the loss of Miss Taylor, though he often referred to her as "poor Miss Taylor." Hating rich foods, Mr. Woodhouse's stress lessened after the wedding cake was gone. He even went to the trouble of asking Mr. Perry, the doctor, about its' ill effects; he discouraged everyone from eating it, and he seemed calmer once it was eaten and no longer a subject of discussion.
Topic Tracking: Guidance 2
Mr. Woodhouse is an eccentric man, and though he does not like to go out often, he does enjoy the company of his friends. Luckily the house is well situated, with Donwell Abbey, the home of Mr. Knightley, and the Westons' home close by. Emma arranged for visits, and tried to keep his evenings full. Their longest and closest friends were the Westons and Mr. Knightley. But they had other acquaintances too, including the preacher Mr. Elton, Mrs. Bates, Miss Bates, and Mrs. Goddard. Mrs. Bates was an aging widow, not exceptional. But her daughter, Miss Bates, was uncommonly popular considering she was not wealthy, pretty, clever, or married. But she was sweet, kind, and modest, and everyone liked her. She took care of her mother, took an interest in everyone, and was a terrible chatterbox. Mrs. Goddard ran a boarding school, which produced moderately accomplished young women. One of her pupils was Harriet Smith, and Mrs. Goddard asked to bring her to Hartfield one evening. Miss Smith was of questionable birth, though her mystery benefactor was wealthy enough to pay for her schooling. She was pretty, and though not a clever girl, Emma determined to make Harriet her friend. Harriet had just returned from visiting the Martin family in their Donwell home. Emma, who had decided without proof that Harriet must be of the upper class, felt that the Martins were too low an acquaintance. She decided to introduce Harriet to "better" people, and find her new friends.
Topic Tracking: Class 2
Topic Tracking: Guidance 3
That evening at supper the anxious Mr. Woodhouse urged his guests to stay away from the rich foods at table, and to try only a tiny bit of boiled egg or gruel. Emma did her best to feed her guests, and the evening was cheerful, with Harriet feeling proud to have received such attention from the great Miss Woodhouse.
Harriet Smith soon became a regular visitor to Hartfield. She was a sweet girl, eager to be guided by someone like Miss Woodhouse. Emma found Harriet's simplicity and impressionable nature pleasant. But Emma fears that Harriet's friend Mr. Martin, a single young man, might have designs on her friend. Emma felt he was too low-class for Harriet, even though Harriet's parentage is not known. Emma has Harriet describe Mr. Martin, which she does enthusiastically. Emma snubs him, doubting she would ever have noticed this resident of Highbury. She tells Harriet that when he marries, she won't be able to see Mr. Martin because his wife will likely be too low-class.
Topic Tracking: Class 3
Harriet goes along with this, and Emma says it is her wish to make Harriet respectable even when not in her company. Harriet wavers back and forth between her good opinions of the Martins, and the likelihood of a lower class marriage. Emma does not think her friend in love.
The next day they ran into Mr. Martin, and Emma is convinced that she was right, seeing in him no manners or class. Harriet was excited and surprised to see him, but Emma burst her bubble by telling her exactly what she thought of Mr. Martin. Somewhat shamed to hear her friend talked about this way, Harriet tried her best to agree with Emma and still stick up for Mr. Martin. Emma compares Mr. Martin to a gentleman Harriet has met, and Harriet cannot help but see the differences. Emma switches topics suddenly, and begins to praise Mr. Elton. She wants to match Harriet with Mr. Elton, and when Harriet compliments him, Emma's plan is set in motion. She believes Mr. Elton to be of an acceptable class, and already aware of Harriet's beauty and charms.
Topic Tracking: Guidance 4
Mr. George Knightley and Mrs. Weston are discussing Emma and her new friend Harriet Smith. Mr. Knightley is critical of the relationship, and predicts a bad outcome. Mrs. Weston thinks that the girls will encourage each other, but Mr. Knightley sees Emma as a girl with great aspirations but little motivation. She writes up marvelous reading lists, then abandons them. Though the smartest in her family, or perhaps because of it, she is spoiled. Mrs. Weston is insulted to hear her pupil so judged, but Mr. Knightley insists Mrs. Weston is a better wife than a governess. Emma had too strong a hand, leading rather than being lead.
Topic Tracking: Guidance 5
Topic Tracking: Marriage 3
Mr. Knightley predicts that this friendship will only make Harriet uncomfortable with her former acquaintances, while still out of place in the upper class. Harriet practically worships Emma, which is the last thing Emma's ego needs. Mrs. Weston defends Emma, and praises her beauty, which Mr. Knightley agrees, is great. Not vain about her appearance, Emma is vain in other ways, claims Mr. Knightley. But he cannot convince Mrs. Weston, and must resign himself to waiting for a more objective judge, such as his brother John. After this unresolved quarrel the two discuss the possibility of Emma's marrying. Mr. Knightley thinks it would do her good to be in love, though she has promised never to marry. Leaving her father would be difficult, and Mrs. Weston drops a hint that though Emma has no prospects at present, in the future her son could make a good match. Mr. Knightley did not seem to notice, and changed the subject.
Topic Tracking: Marriage 4
Emma was content that Harriet's heart and mind were refocusing on Mr. Elton. She saw what she wanted to see, and imagined that Mr. Elton was falling for Harriet too. He praised Emma for the great change she had made in Harriet. And when Emma suggested that Harriet sit for a portrait, Mr. Elton seconded the idea strongly. They convinced the reluctant Harriet to sit for it, and Emma began. She was a good artist, though she rarely finished anything she started. While Emma worked Mr. Elton looked over her shoulder and commented on every feature, like the lover Emma imagined him to be. The first day went well, and Emma planned to finish the work with a slight exaggeration of Harriet's finer features, and a slight decrease in her negative ones.
Topic Tracking: Guidance 6
When completed, Mrs. Weston noticed the liberties Emma had taken, but Mr. Elton defended every one. Mr. Elton offered to have the picture framed in London, which Emma saw as a sign of his love for the subject, not the artist. Emma is happy with this offer, though she thinks Mr. Elton too brooding a lover, and is happy she is second in his eyes.
The day Mr. Elton left for London, a very excited Harriet arrived at Hartfield with a letter from Mr. Martin. It was a marriage proposal, and Harriet came to ask Miss Woodhouse what to do. Harriet was obviously flattered with the loving act, and praised the way Mr. Martin wrote. Emma read the letter, and was surprised by how sincerely and skillfully he wrote. She does her best to put down the letter, and when Harriet asks what she should do, Emma acts as though it is only the style, and not the substance of her letter, which Harriet might need help with. Emma expects her to refuse the proposal, but Harriet is not sure. She hesitates, and Emma suggests, "'I lay it down as a general rule, Harriet, that if a woman doubts as to whether she should accept a man or not, she certainly ought to refuse him. If she can hesitate as to "Yes," she ought to say "No" directly.'" Chapter 7, pg. 47 Emma tries to make herself appear neutral, but she pushes Harriet to really examine whether he is the right man. She asks Harriet if Mr. Martin is the best man she knows, encouraging her to think (hopefully) of Mr. Elton. It works, Emma having convinced Harriet to aim high, and she decides to refuse him.
Topic Tracking: Class 4
Emma expresses her pleasure at this decision. She worried, because if Harriet married Mr. Martin, she could never visit him, because of the class difference. Harriet is shocked, and glad she made the right decision. But she does defend Mr. Martin, both praising and rejecting him in her confusion. Harriet finally wrote the letter, though not with a clear heart. The Martin family had been so kind to her, she did not want to risk hurting them. Mr. Martin is not far from Harriet's mind, but Emma does her best to turn these thoughts to Mr. Elton and the portrait. Emma inflates Harriet's ego, suggesting that the portrait is a close and prized possession to Mr. Elton. Though Emma is only speculating, Harriet seems to like the idea.
Harriet has been spending so much time at Hartfield that Emma has a bedroom made up for her. One morning when Harriet is absent from Hartfield, Mr. Knightley stops by. After some dawdling Mr. Woodhouse excuses himself and leaves to take a walk. Now alone with Emma, Mr. Knightley compliments Harriet, and admits that Emma has helped her. He has news, and alludes to Mr. Martin's marriage proposal. Mr. Martin had asked his advice, and the gentleman advised Mr. Martin to act on his feelings. Emma tries to hide her own knowledge, but eventually cannot help it and tells Mr. Knightley what occurred. He is shocked and angry that Miss Smith would do something so stupid, and he blames Emma. Mr. Martin is a good man and would make a wonderful match, and he expects that Emma's snobbery propelled the refusal. Mr. Knightley points out Harriet's unknown class and origin, and her poverty--qualities that would make Mr. Martin, not Harriet, at the losing end of the match. But Emma sees Harriet as a wonderful catch, good enough even for Mr. Knightley. But the gentleman thinks that Harriet's flaws will be seen as great disadvantages. This may be her only proposal, and Emma has ruined it. In Mr. Knightley's opinion Emma greatly misjudged Mr. Martin, and she could not help but feel bad for so upsetting her friend. His respect was important to her, but she was still not willing to change.
Topic Tracking: Guidance 7
Topic Tracking: Class 5
Topic Tracking: Marriage 5
Guessing that Emma had another man in mind for Harriet, he tells her that Mr. Elton is too sensible to marry Harriet. Emma denies any match-making, and Mr. Knightley leaves abruptly. She regretted the quarrel, and was glad that "She did not always feel so absolutely satisfied with herself, so entirely convinced that her opinions were right and her adversary's wrong, as Mr. Knightley." Chapter 8, pg. 61 She soon cheered when Harriet returned to Hartfield, and was able to dismiss Mr. Knightley's ideas regarding Mr. Elton. Harriet had heard from Miss Nash how anxious Mr. Elton was to complete his London errand, and Miss Nash wondered if a woman was involved. Everyone at school loves and respects Mr. Elton, and Miss Nash thinks that any woman he asked would be very honored.
Topic Tracking: Gossip 1
Mr. Knightley stayed away from Hartfield longer than usual. And when he did return, Emma was still not forgiven. Her plans for Harriet and Mr. Elton were proceeding nicely; he had returned with the portrait, which was hung above the mantle and greatly admired (especially by Mr. Elton). Emma felt she had improved Harriet's taste, but her scholarly education went more slowly, because Emma had little patience for such work herself. The closest Harriet was coming to literature was her recent hobby of collecting riddles or charades into a little book. When Harriet asked Mr. Elton if he would write one for her book, there is a hint that Mr. Elton's affections might be elsewhere. Shyly, Mr. Elton doubts he could write an original charade, even with the inspiration of Miss Woodhouse; he quickly catches himself and mentions Miss Smith as well. Both Emma and Harriet are oblivious to this, and when Mr. Elton the next day gives his riddle to Emma, she still does not become suspicious. Emma solves it quickly, but the duller Harriet must be lead along to its' meaning. It is vague enough to be meant for either woman, but the line about "thy ready wit" gives a hint the object might be Emma. Having no such thoughts, Emma finds the riddle a compliment to Harriet, and congratulates her on catching the fine Mr. Elton. Shocked and happy, the innocent girl remarks, "'Whatever you say is always right, and therefore I suppose, and believe, and hope it must be so; but otherwise I could not have imagined it. It is so much beyond anything I deserve.'" Chapter 9, pg. 69
Topic Tracking: Guidance 8
They must decide what to do with the riddle, and they decide to write and share it, except for the most personal last lines. They read it to Emma's father, who likes it very much; but they keep the author secret. Mr. Woodhouse's thoughts stray to "poor Isabella," who will be visiting with her family next week. He complains that this visit will be short, as have been all her visits since the sad day of her marriage. They are looking forward to seeing her two young boys, Henry and John. Mr. Woodhouse will be happy to have the boys temporarily under his care, because he thinks their father and uncle are too rough with them. Emma tells him that the boys like the roughhousing, as, "'That is the case with us all, papa. One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.'" Chapter 9, pg. 76
Mr. Elton returned later, and seemed confused by Emma's suggestions about the riddle. He remarked on the honor of it being written in the book, and Emma felt happy for Harriet, though she noticed that Mr. Elton's style of speaking could be annoying.
The weather, though December, was nice enough for Emma to pay a charitable visit to a poor family who lived near Highbury. She went with Harriet, and their walk passed by the vicarage, where Mr. Elton resides. Emma remarks that it will likely be Harriet's home one day. Harriet then asks Emma whether she will ever marry, and Emma firmly replies that she has no intention to--her life is missing nothing, and marriage could only subtract from her present enjoyments.
Topic Tracking: Gossip 2
The topic switches to Jane Fairfax, Miss Bates' niece. Emma does not like her, mostly because she is discussed so much by everyone. They have now reached the cottage of the poor family, and Emma dealt with them kindly. Walking home they meet Mr. Elton, and Emma tries her best to leave the lovers alone, with little success. Finally Emma fell behind and broke off her bootlace, so that the three would have to go inside the house. Once inside Emma and the housekeeper were in one room fixing her lace, while Emma left those two alone. Unfortunately, they took no advantage of this opportunity. The day was not a total disaster, and though Mr. Elton seems cautious, Emma guesses the pair will soon be together.
Topic Tracking: Guidance 9
Now that Emma's family is soon to arrive at Hartfield, she is obliged to leave Harriet and Mr. Elton to their own devices. It is the family's first visit in many months, as they had spent recent holidays by the sea. Mr. Woodhouse allowed himself much anxiety both on the subject of such bathing trips, and on the long distance the family had traveled.
A loving and devoted wife, Isabella was closest to her father in temperament. She too had the constant ear of her local doctor, Mr. Wingfield, and she and Mr. Woodhouse compared the opinions of their respective physicians. Her husband, Mr. John Knightley, was a good and clever man. He put up with his wife's neurotic hobby, but he could sometimes be cross. Emma felt him to be too rude and overbearing to her father. Really he just had little patience for indulging Mr. Woodhouse and his irrational fears. Unlike any others, Mr. John Knightley tried to talk Mr. Woodhouse out of his illogical fears or complaints. The topic switches to Frank Churchill, and Mr. Knightley disapproves of how the boy lives away from his father. He suggests that Mr. Weston did not mind much, being too used to the lush life of a bachelor. Emma, angry at the insult to Miss Taylor's husband, holds her tongue for the sake of family civility.
Though Mr. Woodhouse wanted Isabella all to himself, Emma insisted that it would be impolite not to invite Mr. Knightley to dine with his family. Emma was hoping that they could end their quarrel and reenter a friendly acquaintance. Just seeing Emma with one of her young nieces seemed to
warm Mr. Knightley, and the two bantered good-naturedly about their differing ages and opinions. Emma hoped that Mr. Martin was not too disappointed, but Mr. Knightley told her that he was very much so. Mr. John Knightley entered the room then, and the brothers fell into their own topics of conversation.
Anxious about his daughter's health, Mr. Woodhouse sent for some gruel for he and Isabella. He objected again to her bathing trips to Southend, and they discuss the health of Mr. Perry, Mr. Woodhouse's doctor. Mr. Woodhouse criticizes London as unhealthy, but Isabella denies the charge. When he says that Mr. Knightley looks ill, her husband snaps at Isabella, telling her not to treat him like a child. Emma is shocked, and does her best to smooth over their tempers. Jane Fairfax enters the conversation, and Isabella hopes for a visit from the young lady. But since the daughter of her benefactors, Mr. and Mrs. Campbell has married, the family is unlikely to let their only companion leave.
Conversation was cheerful until the gruel came. Isabella complains that her cook can not make acceptable gruel, and such a gripe is an opening for Mr. Woodhouse to complain again about his daughter's absence from Hartfield. He tells again how Mr. Perry disliked the trip to Southend, and Mr. John Knightley finally breaks into this torrent of complaints and advice with a sharp rebuke to his father-in-law. Mr. Knightley kindly redirected his brother's attentions, and thus left Mr. Woodhouse somewhat upset to have Perry's ideas (which were also his own) so slighted. Emma and Isabella soothed him, and John cooled off enough, that spirits were not low for long.
The visit was pleasant, a treat for Isabella, with her time spent mostly at Hartfield. Mr. Weston did insist on a dinner at Randalls, and despite the cold winter weather, the group agreed to go. Even the nervous Mr. Woodhouse seemed excited. All the family were invited, including Harriet Smith. Unfortunately, Harriet caught a bad cold the day before the dinner. Despite a visit from Mr. Perry, and a long visit from Emma, she was not well enough to attend. Emma ran into Mr. Elton, who was on his way to visit the patient, and she felt strongly that this was another sign of his love. But Mr. Elton seemed more concerned that Miss Woodhouse should not catch Harriet's illness, than with the symptoms of Harriet Smith. Emma, confused, subtly suggests that it would be perfectly acceptable for Mr. Elton to miss the dinner as well, but he has no intention of doing so. He happily climbs into John Knightley's carriage with Miss Woodhouse, and Emma is left to make up excuses for why the young lover does not want to stay with his ill beloved. Upon parting he speaks with warm concern about Harriet, further comforting Emma. Mr. Knightley takes this private moment to suggest that Mr. Elton is interested in Emma. He believes he sees evidence of affection, and that Emma is too friendly with the preacher. Emma denies the idea,
"amusing herself in the consideration of the blunders which often arise from a partial knowledge of circumstances, of the mistakes which people of high pretensions to judgment are for ever falling into...." Chapter 13, pg. 104
Topic Tracking: Guidance 10
Though the weather was growing increasingly colder, nearly all the group was still determined to attend Mr. Weston. Mr. John Knightley, who hated to be far from the comfort of home, was very irritable. He criticized Mr. Weston and made pessimistic comments about the journey. Though thoroughly annoyed, Emma kept quiet. She was more annoyed when they picked up a very happy Mr. Elton, who despite a report of an even sicker Miss Smith, decided to come to the party. Emma watched her contented companion with confusion. Mr. Elton chattered on about the pleasures of a dinner party, and Mr. Knightley complained that he wanted to be home.
Upon entering Randalls Mr. Knightley had to put on a happier face, Mr. Elton one less so. Emma, happy to be with the Westons, appeared just as she felt. Emma chatted long with Mrs. Weston, but when she sat down for dinner she found Mr. Elton at her side. She wanted to ignore him, but he kept foiling her best attempts. He was so friendly and considerate that Emma began to wonder if her brother-in-law was right, and she tried harder to ignore him. Emma was much more interested in the Weston's conversation about Frank Churchill, Mr. Weston's son. Though having never met him, Emma imagined him to be the one person who could induce her to marry. Certainly his close relation with her beloved governess, and his respectable background, made him the only candidate. Also, she thought it was an idea that had likely crossed the minds of Mr. and Mrs. Weston.
Topic Tracking: Marriage 6
Emma learned from Mr. Weston that Frank wanted badly to visit, but that his aunt's ill health kept him away. At long last, he thought his son would be able to visit next month. Mrs. Churchill is very domineering, and Frank will likely only be allowed to come if a group of friends decide not to visit Enscombe. They are hopeful this will happen, but Mrs. Weston is especially careful not to get too excited. The Westons try to speak politely about Mrs. Churchill, but they cannot hide their annoyance with her. Emma cannot understand why the young man cannot make the trip, but Mrs. Weston cautions Emma not to make judgments without knowing the family's situation. Emma believes he should be able to influence his aunt towards the visit, but Mrs. Weston again cautions that they who know so little of his situation should not judge it.
After dinner and tea Mr. Woodhouse wanted to go home, but the others encouraged him to stay longer. Mr. Elton continued to bother Emma, but he did inquire about her friend Miss Smith. Shortly after he changed his focus; concerned that Miss Woodhouse might get sick too, he insisted she not visit Harriet again. Acting like her lover, Mr. Elton chatted on like this until Emma could take no more and moved her seat. There was an interruption then from Mr. John Knightley, who was disturbed about the snow, which had begun to fall. In a calculated move, he spoke his concerns to Mr. Woodhouse, who immediately became anxious. The others tried to calm Mr. Woodhouse, but everything Mr. Knightley said was meant only to agitate the old man more. Only Mr. George Knightley was able to calm the situation; he had checked outside, and
there was scarcely any snow on the ground. Though everything was safe now, Isabella and Mr. Woodhouse were still anxious to get back to Hartfield.
They traveled in two carriages, and Mr. John Knightley mistakenly got into his wife's carriage, leaving Emma to ride alone with Mr. Elton. Soon after the uncomfortable ride began, Mr. Elton grabbed Miss Woodhouse's hand and professed his love to her! Shocked and offended, Emma asked him about Miss Smith. He said he never thought of her like that, and all the attentions he paid to her were only because she was Miss Woodhouse's friend. Finding herself terribly mistaken, Emma told him she did not return his affections. But what of Harriet? Mr. Elton felt Miss Smith to be too far a step down for him, for though poor, he did have standards. Mortified, she rejects him again, decisively. Realizing what her answer is, Mr. Elton sits in a silent rage, feeling slighted and humiliated. Upon reaching his house, he leaves without a word. At Hartfield Mr. Knightley is apologetic for deserting Miss Woodhouse, and Emma found herself obliged to spend the evening in society before she could retire and reexamine the night's events.
Topic Tracking: Class 6
The next day Emma was miserable, mostly for the pain her mistake was to cause Harriet. She wished she had never encouraged the crush, and that she could have seen the charade and the portrait for what they were--attempts to win herself! Both the Knightley brothers had been correct about Mr. Elton, and Emma felt how flawed her own judgment had been. She was not flattered by Mr. Elton's confession, only repulsed at this inferior man daring to address the fine Miss Woodhouse in such a manner. Despite Mr. Elton's folly, Emma admitted that the greatest error lay in her desire to matchmake, and she promised to never do it again.
Topic Tracking: Guidance 11
Topic Tracking: Class 7
The next morning Emma consoled herself with the idea that Mr. Elton was not in love with her, only desiring to advance his position. She was also glad that Harriet's feelings were not delicate or refined enough to be terribly stung at this disappointment. Luckily the weather was bad, and Emma spent this Christmas Day alone with her family; only Mr. Knightley would venture a visit. But despite these pleasures, Emma could not be fully happy knowing she would soon have to tell her friend the truth.
Once the weather improved, Isabella and her husband ended their visit. Mr. Elton left Highbury as well, and Emma was happy to be temporarily rid of Mr. Elton. With Harriet nearly better, Emma traveled to Mrs. Goddard's to perform her sad task. Harriet was upset, but did not blame Emma. She realized how crazy it was to imagine that a man such as Mr. Elton would like her, and thought that only the kind Miss Woodhouse would imagine her so worthy. Emma took Harriet to Hartfield and did her best to take her mind off Mr. Elton, whom Harriet still thought was the height of perfection. Emma hoped Harriet to be better by the time of Mr. Elton's return, but the preacher was so well-loved and respected that even in his absence, he was a popular subject of conversation at Mrs. Goddard's.
Everyone is disappointed when Mr. Frank Churchill cancels his visit, Mrs. Weston most of all. Emma is too occupied with Harriet to care much, though she feels for her old friend. Emma tells the news to Mr. George Knightley, who is very harsh on Frank for not making the visit. Frank's long absence signaled to the gentleman a lack of respect towards Mr. Weston, and a weakness in character. Emma cautions him, as Mrs. Weston cautioned her, not to judge the young man without full knowledge of his family and situation. But Mr. Knightley, an independent man himself, cannot help but imagine this slight an indicator of a selfish and insensitive nature. They quarrel back and forth, but neither means to be swayed in their opinion of the young man. Emma is willing to give Frank the benefit of the doubt, expecting that it is hard for him to stand up to his family. But Mr. Knightley believes there comes a time when a young man must do just that, to prove he is a man. Emma is surprised that her usually fair old friend would so confidently dislike a man he had never met. His reaction is a great mystery to her.
Topic Tracking: Guidance 12
Harriet was constantly on the topic of her angelic Mr. Elton. During a walk Emma hoped to occupy her friend's mind with a visit to Mrs. Bates and her niece. Emma did not visit the pair as much as she should, and she decided to remedy this mistake. The Bates' lived moderately, but were very hospitable to their many guests. But they were lower class, and Emma regretted to hear them mention Mr. Cole and Mrs. Cole, because she knew a mention of their friend Mr. Elton was not far behind. First the bothersome pair brought out a letter from Mr. Elton detailing his absence, then a letter from the tiresome Jane Fairfax. Emma politely asked about Jane Fairfax, though there was no topic she would rather avoid. Miss Bates, oblivious to how her constant chatter and praise might annoy, bubbled happily on about her niece. Mrs. Bates was quite deaf, and Emma had to endure hearing Miss Bates repeat everything Emma said several times to the old woman.
Topic Tracking: Class 8
Jane Fairfax would arrive next week. The family she lives with, the Campbells, are going to Ireland to visit their newly married daughter, Mrs. Dixon. Despite her intimacy with the family, and with Mr. Dixon, who once saved Jane's life, Jane has decided to come visit her aunt instead. She is still recovering from a cold, and wrote to her aunts that the weather of Surrey would do her good. Miss Bates rambled on about Jane's letter and her health, and Emma is finally able to make a polite escape, without hearing the entirety of Jane's letter read aloud.
Topic Tracking: Gossip 3
Jane Fairfax is an orphan. Her father, Lieutenant Fairfax died during battle, and her mother, the youngest daughter of Mrs. Bates, Miss Jane Bates, died soon after. At the age of three her aunt and grandmother became her guardians. She was raised above commonness by a friend of her father named Colonel Campbell, who took her into his family and provided her with an education. Jane was the same age as his only daughter, and the two became best friends. Jane is an intelligent, well-bred girl, thanks to the Colonel's generosity. With no dowry, her education was meant to help her earn a position as a governess, which the family deferred until after marriage separated the two young women. But Jane had been ill since the marriage, and unable to begin such a position.
Emma did not look forward to the visit. She disliked Miss Fairfax for no reason, though Mr. Knightley thought her feelings were prompted by jealousy of the young woman's accomplishments. Jane was an excellent musician, beautiful, and genteel--but also quiet and reserved, qualities that Emma could not stand. Being so close in age, everyone expected the two to be great friends, and Emma did feel bad about her past slights of Miss Fairfax. Upon meeting her again, Emma determined to try to correct her mistake. This did not stop her overactive imagination from thinking that Miss Fairfax had seduced Mr. Dixon, her friend's husband. In her mind this was why Miss Fairfax did not go to Ireland. Emma pitied the poor girl on this account, but still found her resolution hard to keep in the presence of the tiresome Miss Bates and the cold Miss Fairfax. Miss Fairfax was reluctant to speak of Weymouth or the Dixons, which did not increase Emma's affection for her. And despite the fact that Jane and Frank Churchill were at Weymouth at the same times, Miss Fairfax was even less talkative about him.
Topic Tracking: Gossip 4
Mr. Knightley was happy with the attention Emma paid to Miss Fairfax. Mr. Woodhouse too, is pleased with the charitable actions Emma has taken towards the Bates'. Mr. Knightley has news to share--Mr. Elton is getting married! At that moment Miss Bates and Miss Fairfax barge in, eager to tell the same news. They are very surprised to hear that Mr. Knightley has scooped them. Miss Bates heard from Mrs. Cole that Mr. Elton was to be married to a Miss Hawkins. But Mr. Knightley heard it from Mr. Cole first, and he got to Hartfield with the news before them. Miss Bates praised Mr. Elton and his many kindnesses to her family. It is strange news, since he has only been gone a month, and people were beginning to expect he wanted to marry in town, perhaps above his station.
Topic Tracking: Marriage 7
Emma was glad Mr. Elton was over her, but she felt for her friend. When an agitated Harriet entered the room, Emma feared she had already heard the news. But no, Harriet had been stuck at Ford's during a rain shower, and while she waited, who should walk in but Elizabeth Martin and her brother! First the pair ignored her, then whispered to each other, then finally Elizabeth came up and spoke kindly, if a bit uncomfortably. Then Mr. Martin spoke a few words to her too, and the rain let up enough for Harriet to leave. But Mr. Martin ran after her, warning her to take another route to Hartfield, because her usual one was flooded. Emma felt the honesty and caring in this exchange, but still urged Harriet to forget about it as an unpleasant encounter. To change the subject, Emma had to tell the news of Mr. Elton more abruptly than she had wished. Harriet was mixed at the news, as her mind was still occupied with the Martins. Emma was glad Harriet did not take the news too hard.
Topic Tracking: Gossip 5
A new bride, like the newly deceased, is always talked of with nothing but praise. Though still unseen to all of Highbury, Mr. Elton's new wife, Augusta Hawkins, was raised in the public mind to a beauty, a wit, and a lady. Mr. Elton was happy to have the past behind him--Miss Woodhouse had rejected him, then offended him with the suggestion of Miss Smith as a love interest. He was perfectly satisfied that his new bride surpassed Miss Woodhouse in every way. He and Augusta Hawkins fell in love quickly. She had a nice fortune, and it was a good match for him. Emma found him to now be arrogant and self-satisfied, and regretted how poorly she had judged his character. Emma had no doubt that the bride was an acceptable match, but surely nothing compared to her Harriet. Miss Hawkins' father was a merchant, making her of a lower class. Now orphaned, it was only her sister's new husband who added any class to the family. Poor Harriet was never far from praise about Mr. Elton, for most of the town loved him. And to further her confused heart, Elizabeth Martin paid her a visit, though Harriet was not home at the time. The call had to be answered, and Emma's solution was for Harriet to visit the Martins, but with Emma ready to pick her up several minutes after the visit begins. Despite the kindness the Martin's had shown her, Harriet agreed to Emma's plan.
Topic Tracking: Class 9
Topic Tracking: Guidance 13
Before their visit to the Martins, poor Harriet saw a trunk belonging to Mr. Elton loaded into a carriage. Thinking only of events far away, Harriet was in no mood now for a visit. Fifteen minutes only was the time before Emma and her carriage reappeared to pick her up, the time much too short. Only Mrs. Martin and her two daughters were present, and just when their caution and reserve were starting to melt, it was time to leave. The brevity of the visit was felt as an insult, and left nobody happy. Only Emma felt the visit was properly performed.
Topic Tracking: Class 10
Hoping for cheer Emma lead them to Randalls, but found that Mr. Weston and his wife were already at Hartfield. When the two groups found each other, Mr. Weston had exciting news--Frank Churchill would arrive in Highbury tomorrow. Emma could not help but feel happy, for Mrs. Weston and for herself. The Westons seem excited to introduce the pair.
Frank arrived the next day earlier than expected. Mr. Weston, anxious for Emma to meet his son, brought him over directly. Emma liked him immediately. He was handsome, pleasant, and clever. His delightful praise for Highbury and Mrs. Weston only heightened Emma's admiration of him. Gallant and polite, he almost tripped over himself, so anxious did he seem to praise and please. Emma saw him as a positive addition to her acquaintance, but she knew she should wait for a better knowledge of him before determining how positive. Emma suspects that the Westons hope the pair will get together, though luckily her father suspects nothing. Mr. Woodhouse likes Frank, and when Frank confesses to knowing Jane Fairfax, Mr. Woodhouse approves of him even more. He met her at Weymouth, and though spoke little about her, he did leave to pay his visit. Emma was pleased with Mr. Churchill, and anxious for their acquaintance to grow.
The next morning Frank came again, this time with Mrs. Weston. Emma was surprised and glad; her opinion of him depended on his treatment of her friend. She found him not at all deficient, and they all enjoyed a long walk together. He showed great interest in everything Highbury, especially the Crown Inn. It was built long ago, and its' ballroom had gone unused due to the lack of proper families in town. Frank, enchanted with the idea of a dance, insisted that they arrange one, despite the difficulties.
Topic Tracking: Class 11
Emma asks Frank about his visit to the Bates'. He thought Miss Fairfax looked ill, and he criticized her complexion. Miss Woodhouse stood up for the girl and her face, but when she mentioned Weymouth, Frank changed the subject to Ford's, desiring to go inside and make a purchase. On the subject of Weymouth, Mr. Churchill was nearly as reserved in his description as Miss Fairfax was. He finally opened up, and admitted they visited often during his time there. He spoke of her musical talent, and Mr. Dixon's appreciation of her abilities. Emma slyly suggested that if she were Miss Campbell, she would have been very jealous to see her beau so favor another woman's talent. Though Mr. Churchill objected to that statement, he did agree with Miss Woodhouse's appraisal of Miss Fairfax as too reserved. All this agreement of opinion and pleasant conversation made Emma happier to have met him. He was both better and worse, both different and exactly what she had expected. Charmed and attracted, Emma took his appreciation for small houses as a sign, "determined that he did know what he was talking about, and that he showed a very amiable inclination to settle early in life, and to marry from worthy motives." Chapter 24, pg. 186 More romantic than realistic, Emma still admired his opinion and the man himself.
Frank Churchill lost some of his standing in Emma's eyes when the next day he ran off to London for a haircut. From Highbury to London is no short distance, and the act was an impulsive one. The act made him appear too much a fop for Emma's liking. It bothered Mrs. Weston also, but the rest of the visit was so nice that she tried not to focus upon it. Emma was certain he was at least close to in love with her, and that if she were to show him the least encouragement, his affections would be secured. Only Mr. Knightley was not charmed by the young Mr. Churchill.
Emma's life was not free of problems. One is Mr. Cole and his wife, a nice couple, but one of lower class who had been slowly increasing their wealth. Mistaking money for breeding, the Coles thought nothing wrong in inviting more respectable families to dine with them. Emma, very class-conscious, was worried about what to do when her invitation came. She was doubly offended when it did not come, as she wanted to be able to refuse it. Emma wanted to use her refusal as a lesson, showing the Coles they should remember their proper place. But now with all her close friends invited, and her left out, Emma was having second thoughts.
Topic Tracking: Class 12
But the invitation did arrive, only somewhat late, and Emma was in a dilemma. She felt she should decline, but really wanted to go. The Coles had been very kind, holding off the invitation until they knew how best to accommodate Miss Woodhouse's sickly father; and Emma decided it would be acceptable to attend. Disliking big evening parties, Mr. Woodhouse agreed to stay home with Mrs. Goddard. And though her father disliked the idea of Emma staying out so late, he finally agreed to that as well.
Mr. Frank Churchill returned from his journey to London. Emma did her best to excuse his behavior as neither silly nor weak. She compared him to Mr. Knightley, then realized the comparison was unfair. Satisfied that Frank Churchill was still a respectable, sensible young man, Emma looked forward to seeing him at the Coles' dinner. The night of the dinner Emma left her father happy with Mrs. Goddard and Mrs. Bates, and left for the Coles'.
Topic Tracking: Guidance 14
Upon arriving, Emma was pleased to see Mr. Knightley using his carriage; he usually preferred to ride, which Emma found beneath his class. Mr. Knightley made fun of her for being so impressed, and then the two walked into the house together. Emma was happy to be the center of attention and love; the other young ladies were to arrive later in the evening. But Jane Fairfax was still a topic of conversation. Mrs. Cole had stopped by the Bates', and newly arrived was a beautiful pianoforte, from an unknown patron. Everyone expected it to be from Colonel Campbell, her current benefactor, but even Jane did not know for sure. Frank Churchill noticed Miss Woodhouse's smile, and he asked what her thoughts were. The present was an odd one, and Emma told him her guess that the present was actually from Mr. Dixon! Emma has conjured up a scenario in which Mr. Dixon, meant to marry her friend, fell in love with Jane; or perhaps Jane simply fell in love with him, her best friend's beau. Mr. Dixon's preference for Jane's music, and how he saved her life, were both offered up as proof of the attachment. Mr. Churchill seemed to agree with her.
The other young ladies arrived, and Miss Fairfax found herself hounded with questions. She looked uncomfortable, and had little insight to offer. Frank Churchill kept close by Miss Woodhouse, the two feeling they shared a secret about Miss Fairfax. The pair discussed Highbury and Enscombe, but once Emma found him staring at Miss Fairfax. He told Emma that he was only looking at Miss Fairfax's odd hair style, and that he must go ask her about it. Strange, but Emma believed him. In his absence Mrs. Weston came by, and told Emma that Miss Bates and her niece arrived at the party in Mr. Knightley's carriage, which he was kind enough to loan. Emma smiled at her friend's modest generosity. Mrs. Weston thought perhaps he had a motive though--an affection for Miss Fairfax! Emma found this unbelievable and shocking; she thought of the loss to her nephew Henry Knightley, who would be heir of Donwell Abby if his uncle remained single. Agitated, Emma tells her friend that Mr. Knightley is happy and does not want nor need to marry. Also, Jane Fairfax is not a good enough match, especially with her chatterbox aunt as a part of the deal.
Topic Tracking: Gossip 7
Mrs. Weston scolds Emma, and tells her that doesn't matter, because she believes Mr. Knightley is interested in Miss Fairfax. He praises and inquires about her; and Mrs. Weston thinks he sent the pianoforte! Emma, knowing her friend, does not believe he would act so impulsively or secretly. Emma scolds Mrs. Weston for acting too much like herself--a matchmaker with an overactive imagination.
Topic Tracking: Gossip 8
After dinner Emma was asked to play on the pianoforte, which she did. She knew Miss Fairfax was the better musician, though everyone was very kind to both. Frank Churchill sang while each woman played, but Mr. Knightley became annoyed when Frank urged Miss Fairfax to play for too long. This made Emma wonder about his heart, but when the dancing began, she found Mr. Knightley dancing with no one. Jane Fairfax danced with someone else, and Emma danced with Frank, who commented on his luck at avoiding a dance with Miss Fairfax.
Topic Tracking: Marriage 8
Emma was not sorry she went to the Coles; surely the visit heightened their opinion of her. She did feel bad about sharing her suspicions about Miss Fairfax with Frank Churchill. She also regretted that her musical abilities were not as good as Miss Fairfax's, and practiced for the morning. Harriet came in while Emma was practicing, and praised her for her talent. Harriet was a bit troubled because last night the Coxes talked about Mr. Martin. To distract her, Emma took her friend on a trip to Ford's. Harriet was very indecisive, and Emma waited by the door. Mrs. Weston and Frank Churchill came by on their way to the Bates'. They are going to hear the pianoforte, though Frank seems reluctant. A few moments after they leave Mrs. Weston and Miss Bates show up, asking Miss Woodhouse and Miss Smith to come in for a few moments. They left Frank back at home, trying to fix Mrs. Bates' glasses. The girls agreed to accompany them, and listened while Miss Bates rattled on about Frank fixing the glasses, and some apples Mr. Knightley had sent over. Overly touched by any act of kindness, Miss Bates is likely to go on and on and on about it. They are not spared.
Topic Tracking: Guidance 15
Upon arriving, they saw Mrs. Bates asleep, Miss Fairfax with her pianoforte, and Frank Churchill still struggling with the glasses. He should have been finished by now, if he had been laboring since they left. Frank Churchill paid Emma lots of attention, but they all were intent on Miss Fairfax when she played the new instrument. After her playing, Frank Churchill made many comments about the mysterious buyer of the pianoforte, which irritated Miss Fairfax. He seemed to be taunting her, but soon stopped and asked her to play one of the waltzes from Weymouth. The mention of that place made Miss Fairfax redden. Miss Fairfax's mystery patron also sent her over sheet music, which Frank Churchill leafs through. Emma whispers that he should not be so bold; she feels both amused and ashamed at what her speculations have caused.
Topic Tracking: Gossip 9
Miss Bates spots Mr. Knightley riding by, and tries to entice him in. She almost succeeds, but when he hears that Frank Churchill is there, the idea of a visit is dismissed entirely. He is running an errand, and must be on his way. Miss Bates chats about how kind the gentleman is, and finally the escape is made, though the morning is so gone that Mr. Churchill and Mrs. Weston no longer have time for a visit to Hartfield.
Dancing is not such a necessity; but once there is a taste for it, more is usually desired. Such was the case with Frank Churchill, and he and Emma started scheming. They measured different rooms at Randalls, but none were large enough. So insistent was Mr. Churchill on dancing that he glossed over these flaws. During this discussion he showed qualities questionable for a husband, but acceptable in a friend. The next day the young man arrived at Hartfield with a new plan--they should use the Crown Inn for the dance. Emma liked the idea, but her father thought the dance had better be at Randalls--the old inn would be too damp, and someone could get sick. Mr. Churchill got around this fear, however, by convincing Mr. Woodhouse that because the Crown was larger, no windows would have to be opened, no cold air let inside. Mr. Woodhouse agreed, and Mr. Churchill and Emma went to the Crown to help the Westons prepare. They fussed over where the supper should be held, because the passage between rooms was rather long. Frank Churchill suggested asking Miss Bates' opinion, and he offered to go get her. Mr. Weston asks him to bring Jane Fairfax as well.
By the time Frank Churchill returned with the new planners, everything had been decided. The group stayed at the Inn longer, walking around and expressing their happiness. Everyone was looking forward to the dance, and the Westons were especially happy to hear that their son had made Emma promise him several dances.
Frank Churchill asked his aunt to add a few more days to his visit, in order for the dance to take place. She is surprisingly agreeable, and only Mr. Knightley expresses any ill will towards the dance. He seems cross, complaining about all the trouble. Emma thought it was because he didn't dance himself, and was pleased that he was not excited about dancing with Miss Fairfax.
Unfortunately the dance had to be canceled when Frank received a letter from his uncle, claiming his aunt was ill and needed him. Though he knew this illness had been concocted, the young man had to return home. He came to see Miss Woodhouse and bid her a sad good-bye; he did not know when his next visit to Highbury could be. Emma is surprised to hear that Frank Churchill visited the Bates' before her, and the young man seems on the verge of telling Emma something important, when she interrupts him. Though he does not say so, Emma becomes quite convinced that he loves her; but her father interrupts them.
After his departure, Emma thought more about the young man. Certain he was about to profess his love for her, Emma felt she must be somewhat in love with him herself. She felt restless and decided that she was in love, though likely temporary. Mr. Knightley was polite about Mr. Churchill's sudden exit, and Jane Fairfax became ill soon after.
Emma is certain she is in love, but the amount grows less over time. She hopes for a letter, but she is not unhappy without him. Life was a bit less spirited, but still pleasurable. Emma imagined the course of their relationship, which would end in friendship, after she refused his affections. She had no doubt he loved her, and that he wanted to express it. But friendship, she decided, was what she really wanted. She could see he was a good man, but too changeable. She was happy to have her first love end so well.
In his letter, Mr. Churchill mentioned Harriet, though only as "Miss Woodhouse's friend." Emma began a reversal, imagining that Frank Churchill and Harriet would make a good match. Remembering the trouble such thoughts caused, Emma pushed it to the back of her mind. But it was a nice idea, because rough times were ahead for Harriet. Soon after Mr. Churchill's leaving, talk switched to Mr. Elton and his bride. Their wedding day was set, and Harriet's unhappiness grew. The only way Emma could calm her was to tell her friend how much her unhappiness hurt her, because it was her fault. The last thing Harriet wanted to do was hurt Miss Woodhouse, so she resolved to change her behavior. Emma loved her sweet friend even more, and acknowledged the superior nature of Harriet's heart.
Mrs. Elton has arrived in Highbury. Being a bride, and being new to town, makes her a popular woman. Emma makes her first visit to Mrs. Elton with Harriet, hoping to lessen her pain. It was a quick visit, and Emma did not like the new addition to Highbury. She did not like her attitude, though she kept her criticism from Harriet. Harriet felt better after seeing them, seeing Mr. Elton so happy.
Emma met Mrs. Elton again for a more prolonged visit. This time Emma found her to be ignorant and conceited, with a falsely high opinion of herself and her class. Her one grasp at gentility was her sister's marriage to a Mr. Suckling at Maple Grove, and Mrs. Elton never stopped talking about it. She boasted incessantly about Maple Grove and her brother-in-law's fine carriage. Mrs. Elton even had the audacity to suggest that her friend could introduce Miss Woodhouse into the society of Bath.
Topic Tracking: Marriage 9
Topic Tracking: Class 13
Emma asked Mrs. Elton about her musical abilities, and she was both modest and boastful. She said she was not terrific, but that she could never live without it. She was incredibly able to amuse herself, of course, but she feared that being married would intrude upon her playing. In fact, she seemed to expect it would, despite her claims to love it. Emma's annoyance grows when Mrs. Elton brings up Mrs. Weston's former occupation, and then she calls Emma's old friend by the familiar name of Knightley! Emma did not like to be treated as a close friend to a woman she had just met--the whole visit was a nightmare.
Emma's dislike for Mrs. Elton only grew.
"She had a little beauty and a little accomplishment, but so little judgment that she thought herself coming with superior knowledge of the world, to enliven and improve a country neighbourhood; and conceived Miss Hawkins to have held such a place in society as Mrs. Elton's consequence only could surpass." Chapter 33, pg. 256
Emma knew her importance, and did not like to see it so usurped. Mr. Elton shared his new wife's pride, and everyone else chose to believe what Mrs. Elton said about her. Mrs. Elton drew back from Emma, suspecting her distaste. The couple began to treat Emma and Harriet more harshly. Mrs. Elton likes Jane Fairfax immensely, and wants to help her. Emma pities Miss Fairfax.
Topic Tracking: Guidance 16
Miss Bates is grateful for the attention the Eltons paid to her niece, and the two families were often together. Jane Fairfax was quite a mystery--she had refused a new offer to go to Ireland, as the Campbells were extending their trip. Mr. Knightley tries to defend Miss Fairfax's actions, and her patience with Mrs. Elton. So kind are his words that Emma suggests he may like the girl. Mr. Knightley only laughs and tells her that idea is old news, and that it was wrong then too. Emma is quick to say that she did not approve or promote the match, and Mr. Knightley denies Miss Fairfax as a compatible bride for him. Emma hopes this will put an end to speculation, but his protests only fuel Mrs. Weston's imagination.
Topic Tracking: Class 14
Mrs. Elton was quite pleased with all the attention Highbury paid her. There were certain sophistications she missed, but she was determined to instruct her new neighbors on these points. Emma, anxious to appear cordial, decided she had better have a dinner at Hartfield for the Eltons. Everyone was to come, except Harriet, who could not handle seeing the couple. By chance Mr. John Knightley would be in town with his children on the day of the party. Mr. Woodhouse was anxious about the size of the party, and Emma did her best to comfort him. Her father was most comforted when he learned that Mr. Weston would be detained from dinner, making their party one less.
The night of the dinner everyone was pleasant. Mr. John Knightley was well behaved; he spoke with Miss Fairfax, whom he had seen walking in the rain. She was on her way to the post-office, but this was not seen as enough of a reason to risk a cold. Once the news of this walk reached Mrs. Elton, she became quite disturbed at her friend's reckless behavior. She became insistent that Mr. Elton pick up Jane's letters, but Miss Fairfax strongly objected. She changed the subject, and then Emma brought up Frank Churchill. Mr. Knightley made a few slight insults to the young man, whom the ladies defended strongly. The group moved to the dining room, giving Emma time to come to her own conclusions about Jane Fairfax's determination to collect her own letters. Emma suspected a letter from Mr. Dixon was the cause, but she kept these thoughts to herself.
After dinner the women broke into two groups, one with Emma, one with Mrs. Elton. Mrs. Elton fawned over Jane and ignored Emma; therefore Emma and Mrs. Weston made their own pair. It was impossible not to overhear Mrs. Elton's attentions to Miss Fairfax; chief among them was Mrs. Elton's desire to get Jane Fairfax a good place of employment, specifically one near Maple Grove. Miss Fairfax was polite, but asked her not to look for anything at the present time.
Mr. Weston arrived, his day of business finally over. John Knightley, who hated parties, could not understand why he would come to this one voluntarily, after a day of work. Mr. Weston was oblivious to any ill will because he came with news of his son. Frank Churchill wrote that he would visit next week. Emma was intent of figuring out how she felt, while Mr. Woodhouse and Mr. George Knightley looked less than excited. But Mr. Weston, so happy with his news, did not notice.
In the conversation after dinner, Mrs. Elton tells Mr. Weston about her eagerness to meet his son. They are lucky that Mrs. Churchill thinks that Enscombe is too cold; their move south brings them closer to Highbury. They discuss long-distance travel, and Mrs. Elton mentions how her sister Selina does not like to sleep at inns. Mrs. Elton is afraid she has erred in suggesting her sister is either more or less genteel than Mrs. Churchill; but Mr. Weston does not seem as concerned. Mrs. Elton babbles on about Maple Grove and all its' advantages, and leaves room to praise her own intellectual resourcefulness. She fishes for compliments, which Mr. Weston is too polite to refuse. Mrs. Elton wants to talk about herself, and Mr. Weston wants to talk about his son, and the two struggle to control the conversation. Mr. Weston tempers his language about Mrs. Churchill; but he does call her a nouveau riche. Mrs. Elton, though guilty of such behavior herself, chooses instead to critique those in her old neighborhood who performed this hypocrisy.
Topic Tracking: Class 15
Topic Tracking: Gossip 10
After tea the group falls into quiet groups, one playing cards, one attempting to converse. Mr. Knightley talks to Emma about his children, who will be visiting Hartfield soon. Her brother-in- law remarks how much more social Emma is, a change which she had not noticed. When Mr. George Knightley suggests that Emma might be too busy for her nephews, Emma reminds him that nearly every party she attends, he does as well.
Emma, having examined her emotions, decides that she no longer feels attached to Frank Churchill. Her only concern is for him; she still expects him to be fully in love with her, and she knows she will have to hurt him. Her worry subsides when he arrives in Highbury. At their first meeting, she feels mostly friendship. Certainly his feelings had cooled off enough; she would not have to refuse him. Emma was glad of this change, though the young man's excitable state made her fear that his love could bloom again.
During the next week and a half, Frank Churchill did not visit--more proof of a lessening affection. His aunt had decided on another move, this time to Richmond. Only nine miles from Highbury, the young man could visit more often. The Westons were pleased, and it was decided to have the ball at the Crown after all. Everyone was excited and agreed, even Mr. Woodhouse.
It was the day of the ball, and great fun seemed certain. Frank Churchill was not called away, and nobody was ill. Mr. Weston asked Emma to come early to check out the Inn, and Emma brought Harriet with her. She was not the only one asked to arrive early, and soon most of the guests had arrived. The Eltons were to come with Miss Bates and Miss Fairfax as their guests, but the Eltons forgot to pick them up. The carriage was sent, and Mr. Churchill eagerly went to greet them.
The chatter of Miss Bates soon dominated the room. She thanked the Eltons, Mr. Churchill, and complimented all the well-dressed revelers. Mrs. Elton complimented her own dress as she pulled Miss Fairfax aside. She praised Mr. Churchill to her friend, so loudly that everyone could hear it. The young man did not like Mrs. Elton. The bride was the topic of conversation, as Mrs. Weston feared that she likely expected to begin the ball, an honor normally reserved for Miss Woodhouse. They gave Mrs. Elton the honor, and her partner was Mr. Weston. Emma took the slight well, her only worry being Mr. Knightley. Her friend was not dancing, and it was a pity to see such a handsome man alone. This situation was cured during the last two dances before supper. Harriet was the only young woman without a partner, and Mr. Elton cruelly walked around the room, showing off his unwillingness to ask her. Mrs. Weston asked him to dance with Harriet, and was flatly refused! It was in shockingly bad taste, and Emma felt for her poor friend. But Mr. Knightley came to her rescue, and he and Harriet danced well together.
Topic Tracking: Class 16
Topic Tracking: Marriage 10
It was time for dinner, and Frank Churchill walked in with Miss Bates and Miss Fairfax. It was not until after dinner that Emma could speak to Mr. Knightley about the Eltons. He guessed that the slight to Harriet was also one to her, and he asked Emma what was the cause. She told him only of Harriet, not of Mr. Elton's designs toward herself. He was amused at her blundered matchmaking, and felt that Mr. Elton had lost the better woman. Emma was happy to hear Mr. Knightley speak well of her friend. When it was time to dance again, the pair decided that they could be partners. They were not too much like family, said Mr. Knightley; to dance together would be acceptable.
Topic Tracking: Gossip 11
Thinking back on the ball, Emma was pleased with her conversation with Mr. Knightley, pleased to find themselves of similar opinions. She was very grateful for his treatment of Harriet, who now seemed completely cured of Mr. Elton. Emma imagined that her friend had finally seen that Mr. Elton was not a perfect man. Emma was happy, but found her peace interrupted when Frank Churchill and Harriet came through the gates of Hartfield. Harriet was pale and terrified, leaning on Mr. Churchill. Miss Smith was out walking with Miss Bickerton, a fellow boarder at Mrs. Goddard's. While walking on an isolated path, they met a band of gypsies. When they began begging from the two young ladies, Miss Bickerton ran away up a hill. Harriet tried to follow, but could not make it. The gypsies fell upon her, and she gave them money and pleaded to be let alone. She was starting to make her escape when Frank Churchill appeared. He scared the gypsies away and helped Harriet home.
Emma could imagine nothing short of love blooming from this chivalric act. The timing was perfect--it would allow Frank Churchill to get over her, and help Harriet to finish forgetting Mr. Elton. She thought of this a long while, then her thoughts turned to her father, who was very troubled by the news of such brutality, and so close to home! The story, and the gypsies, did not linger long, except among Emma's nephews, who loved to hear her tell it.
Topic Tracking: Gossip 12
Harriet came to Hartfield several days later with a parcel. She told Emma she had a confession to make. She no longer envies Mrs. Elton, and she no longer has feelings for Mr. Elton. To prove it, she wants to destroy the little trinkets that remind her of him. Harriet pulls out a piece of plaster used to cover wounds. One day Mr. Elton cut his finger, and Harriet offered him some plaster to seal the wound. The portion he didn't use he returned to her, and she saved it as a great treasure. Emma was amused and ashamed of her friend. There was still another treasure--the used end of a pencil that belonged to him. Harriet had watched him set it aside for a working pencil, and when no one was looking she snatched it up. Harriet was embarrassed and ashamed at her silly behavior, and threw the treasures into the fire.
Emma hoped her friend's thoughts would soon turn to Mr. Churchill. But Harriet says she will never marry--her heart is attached to someone much better than Mr. Elton, much too good for her, she fears. Emma, thinking Harriet is speaking of Mr. Churchill, tells her it is natural to feel affection for the man who saved her. Harriet has nothing but praise for the unnamed man whom Emma still thinks is Mr. Churchill. Emma tells Harriet to watch him, to determine how he feels. She wants her friend to be cautious, but not without hope. Emma saw nothing wrong with the attachment; it would likely improve her friend.
Topic Tracking: Guidance 17
June came without any great change--no new arrivals, no departures, no startling news. Mr. Knightley seemed to dislike Frank Churchill more and more. He suspected Mr. Churchill to be courting Emma, while his affections were really engaged with Jane Fairfax. He had seen them exchange looks, which he thought inappropriate; but he feared he might be creating a problem where there was none. So he continued observing.
His best evidence came one day at the end of a walk. Nearly everyone was there, and at the end of the walk Emma pressed them to have a drink at Hartfield. While on their way, Mr. Perry rode by on horseback. Frank Churchill asked Mrs. Weston about Mr. Perry's plan to buy a carriage, but she knew of no such plan. The young man insisted she had written it in a letter, but Mrs. Weston denied the charge. Mr. Weston himself knew nothing of Mr. Perry's plan, and Mr. Churchill suggested he might have dreamed the information. Emma was not present for this conversation, and so did not hear Miss Bates tell the group that she and her family (including Jane) had knowledge of the plan last spring. The doctor's wife, a friend of theirs, wanted a carriage, but was as yet unable to convince her husband. Mr. Knightley, suspecting a secret correspondence between Miss Fairfax and Mr. Churchill, watched their faces. But he saw no clue in them.
Topic Tracking: Gossip 13
After tea, Mr. Churchill suggested they play a game. A person forms a word out of tile letters, then scrambles them. Another player tries to guess the word from the puzzle. Mr. Churchill gave a word to Jane, and after she solved it she pushed it away. Unknowingly Harriet picked it up, and solved it--Mr. Knightley saw that the word was "blunder." Jane Fairfax blushed at the word, and Mr. Knightley became certain of the connection he had just imagined. Next Mr. Churchill made out a small word for Emma, which he then slyly gave to Miss Fairfax. Mr. Knightley endeavored to see the word. It was "Dixon", and Jane Fairfax looked distressed when she realized Mr. Knightley had seen it. The evening soon ended, and Mr. Knightley looked to the innocent Emma. "He could not see her in a situation of such danger without trying to preserve her. It was his duty." Chapter 41, pg. 320 He asked his friend what was so amusing about the word "Dixon" in the game? Emma was confused and quiet. Mr. Knightley feared she was warmly attached to the deceitful young man. Feeling her protector, he had to ask her if she knew of any affection between Mr. Churchill and Miss Fairfax. Amused, Emma answered with a no, indicating her knowledge of the young man's heart. In poor spirits, he returned home to Donwell Abbey.
Topic Tracking: Gossip 14
The visit Mrs. Elton had long hoped for from the Sucklings was not to occur this summer. All her plans were dashed; but she comforted herself with still trying to plan an excursion to Box Hill. Emma and Mr. Weston had been planning their own small trip there, with a few of their close friends. So Emma was surprised and hurt when Mr. Weston invited Mrs. Elton and her husband along. But the trip was delayed when a horse got hurt. Mr. Knightley jokingly suggested an excursion to Donwell, and Mrs. Elton jumped at the phony offer. "Donwell was famous for its strawberry-beds, which seemed a plea for the invitation; but no plea was necessary; cabbage-beds would have been enough to tempt the lady, who only wanted to be going somewhere." Chapter 42, pg. 324 Excited, she urged Mr. Knightley to arrange everything.
Topic Tracking: Class 17
Topic Tracking: Marriage 11
All invited happily agreed to the party, seeing it as a compliment to themselves. Mr. Knightley arranged it so the Woodhouses could come, and much to Mr. Knightley's disappointment, Mr. Weston invited his son. They had a beautiful day for the party. Emma had not been to Donwell Abbey in a long time, and she was struck by its' beauty. The group walked around the grounds, picked strawberries until Mrs. Elton tired of it, and then settled down to conversation. Mrs. Elton had found Jane Fairfax a governess position with a respectable family near Maple Grove, and Miss Fairfax was having a hard time refusing her excessively kind friend. Desiring to end the conversation, Miss Fairfax suggested a walk. During this stroll, Mr. Knightley and Harriet Smith broke away from the rest and had a private conversation.
After the walk the group went inside to eat. Still Mr. Churchill had not arrived. The post-meal walk was to be had, but Emma remained inside with her father. Jane Fairfax ran into Emma, and asked her to make her excuses to the others, because she had to leave. Emma, confused, offered her carriage to the girl, but she was insistent on walking back to her home alone. About twenty minutes after she left, Frank Churchill arrived. His aunt had delayed him, and now he was in a terrible mood, which he blamed on the heat. Emma was glad she no longer loved such an irritable man; Harriet would do better with him. When Mr. Churchill calmed down, he began to tell Miss Woodhouse his desire to go abroad. She teased the young man, sick of a life so comfortable. He thought Miss Woodhouse very wrong. Still cross, he finally agreed to attend the Box Hill trip tomorrow. As the others returned, they were happy to see him, though the sudden removal of Jane Fairfax was a distressing mystery.
The weather was lovely for the trip to Box Hill, but the mood of the travelers upon arriving was not. They seemed listless and soon split into groups. The Eltons did not like Miss Woodhouse or Miss Smith, and vice versa, and Miss Bates and Miss Fairfax were annoyances to Emma. All these poor relations divided the party. Emma was with Harriet and Frank Churchill, but she found him to be unlike himself, very quiet and dull. He seemed distracted, his attention elsewhere; this seemed to lessen Harriet's spirits as well. When they finally sit down Mr. Churchill improved, paying Emma his lively attention. They flirt with each other, though Emma did not have her heart attached to it or to him. Mr. Churchill was very excitable, and seems determined to cause a stir in the group. He said that Miss Woodhouse wanted to hear everyone's thoughts, a request that offended Mrs. Elton. He next asked to hear one funny story, or several dull ones, from each person. Miss Bates joked that three dull things would be very easy for her, and Emma cruelly remarked: "'Ah! ma'am, but there may be a difficulty. Pardon me, but you will be limited as to number--only three at once.'" Chapter 43, pg. 340 It took Miss Bates a moment to comprehend, and then she was very hurt. She faulted herself, not Miss Woodhouse, her kind old friend. Mr. Weston tries to change the subject. He suggests puzzles, but Mrs. Elton is still offended, and won't help break the tension. She and her husband walk off.
In their absence Mr. Churchill criticizes them, and the quickness of their courtship. Miss Fairfax speaks up to defend the idea of love arising from short acquaintances. But she thinks that only a weak person would hold onto such a love. Mr. Churchill asks Miss Woodhouse to choose a wife for him, and of the qualities he asks for, Emma finds nearly all of them in Harriet Smith. The day is ending, and Mr. Knightley approaches Emma while she waits for her carriage. He reprimands Emma for her comment to Miss Bates. For Emma to behave such to a woman whose situation is so inferior to her own, shows a lack of compassion. Emma's shame makes her silent, but Mr. Knightley fears she is only angry with him. The carriage arrives, and Emma enters hers before she is able to speak to Mr. Knightley. Unsettled, Emma sees now how cruel her words had been. She perhaps regretted even more the way she left things unsaid with Mr. Knightley. Feeling the most sadness, Emma cries the whole ride home.
Topic Tracking: Marriage 12
Topic Tracking: Guidance 18
All Emma could think of that night was the awful trip to Box Hill. She played backgammon with her father, hoping that no one could ever accuse her of hurting him. Emma thought to herself:
"She had been often remiss, her conscience told her so; remiss, perhaps, more in thought than fact; scornful, ungracious. But it should be so no more. In the warmth of true contrition she would call upon her the very next morning, and it should be the beginning, on her side, of a regular, equal, kindly intercourse." Chapter 44, pg. 346
With this change in character and action firm in her mind, Emma set off the next morning for the Bates'. While waiting to be let in, Emma thought of the unkind thoughts she had so often entertained before entering this house. Now she heard some hurried movement inside, as Jane Fairfax and Miss Bates left the room that Emma was brought into. Mrs. Bates apologized, and said that Jane was unwell. Miss Bates did return, much to Emma's relief. Jane Fairfax had agreed to a governess position, and she was very upset. Miss Bates is sure that her distress will lessen as she becomes used to the idea. She admits that the bustle before Emma was let in was Jane--she did not want to visit with anyone. Emma is sympathetic and inquires about Jane's new situation, which makes Miss Bates very pleased. Mrs. Elton found Jane the job with a family near Maple Grove. Jane was reluctant, claiming that she wanted to wait until the Campbells returned; but just yesterday she gave her approval. Frank Churchill had left town directly before she made her answer. He had received notice that his aunt would like him home soon, but he chose to return home directly after Box Hill. This was not a big piece of news, and Miss Bates soon switched the topic to the pianoforte. This made Emma think of how she had gossiped about that pianoforte and its' purchaser, and she felt terrible again, despite having gained Miss Bates' forgiveness.
When Emma returns from her visit, she finds Mr. Knightley and Harriet Smith at Hartfield. Mr. Knightley is going to London to see John and Isabella. Her friend seems hurried and not himself. Mr. Woodhouse asks Emma about her visit to Miss Bates and her mother. Mr. Knightley's mood changes, and he takes Emma's hand! He drops it before he kisses it, and Emma wonders what is going on with her old friend.
"The intention, however, was indubitable; and whether it was that his manners had in general so little gallantry, or however else it happened, but she thought nothing became him more. It was with him of so simple, yet so dignified a nature. She could not but recall the attempt with great satisfaction." Chapter 45, pg. 354
Mr. Knightley left them then, with Emma satisfied that her friend had forgiven her.
Emma told her father and Harriet the news about Jane Fairfax, news only topped by that of the death of Mrs. Churchill, which they received the next day. In death Mrs. Churchill was quite forgiven; criticisms of the hypochondriac aunt transformed themselves into praise of the dead. Emma hoped that this new freedom would allow Frank Churchill to marry her good friend Harriet. But Emma had other things to occupy her time. Determined to do right by Miss Fairfax, Emma began an attempt of charity and friendship towards the ill and doomed young woman. All her attempts were snubbed, leading Emma to believe that it was only from her that Miss Fairfax refused aid. She felt bad for having led the girl to this resolution, but comforted herself with the knowledge of her good intentions.
About one and a half weeks after Mrs. Churchill's death, Mr. Weston came to Hartfield and insisted that Emma accompany him to Randalls. He tells her that Mrs. Weston wants to see her, and there is some news, but all is very secretive. Once at Randalls Mr. Weston leaves his wife to tell Emma the news--that Frank Churchill and Miss Fairfax have been secretly attached for months, and are now engaged! The pair became engaged while at Weymouth, and told no one of it until today. Emma felt distressed, remembering all her gossip about Miss Fairfax, and also her plans for Mr. Churchill and Harriet. Emma tells her anxious friends not to worry about her--though she once liked Mr. Churchill, she has not for some time considered him any more than a friend. The Westons are relieved to hear that their friend has not been wounded. But Emma is very indignant about Mr. Churchill's behavior; to come here and lie to both friends and family, and to treat Miss Fairfax so terribly, she sees as inexcusable. Mrs. Weston wants to wait for his explanation; until then she will hold back her judgment. When her son discovered that Miss Fairfax had taken the governess position, he begged Mr. Churchill to let him marry her, and the uncle agreed. Emma is still not convinced the son is blameless.
"'To come among us with professions of openness and simplicity; and such a league in secret to judge us all! Here have we been the whole winter and spring, completely duped, fancying ourselves all on an equal footing of truth and honour, with two people in the midst of us who may have been carrying round, comparing and sitting in judgment on sentiments and words that were never meant for both to hear.'" Chapter 46, pg. 367
Mrs. Weston is not worried, because she hardly gossiped about either person. She still thinks Jane Fairfax is a good person, one who has only made a mistake. Mr. Weston enters then, and Emma's manner assures him that what he feared was not true. He is happy, and very soon convinced that this match is a wonderful idea.
Topic Tracking: Gossip 15
Emma's thoughts are of Harriet, and her blame is on herself and Frank Churchill. She had encouraged Harriet, and had not been a good friend to her. She had also been a poor friend to Jane Fairfax. Realizing that she was probably seen as a rival, Emma could better understand why her offers of aid were spurned. She readies herself to tell Harriet, but when her friend arrives at Hartfield, she already knows the news. Emma is surprised to see her in such a good mood, surprised and confused just the right amount. She soon learns that this is because Harriet never cared for Frank Churchill; her attentions are focused on a far superior man--Mr. George Knightley! Harriet thought Emma's words of encouragement were in regards to Mr. Knightley, not Frank Churchill, and Harriet had taken them seriously. When Emma spoke about heroes, she meant Mr. Churchill and the gypsies; Harriet had in mind Mr. Knightley's kind behavior at the dance. The young woman is hopeful that the match, though difficult, will occur. At Harriet's claim of having Mr. Knightley's affections, Emma is troubled: "It darted through her with the speed of an arrow that Mr. Knightley must marry no one but herself!" Chapter 47, pg. 375
Topic Tracking: Guidance 19
Harriet's proof was the two dances, their removed walk at Donwell, in which Mr. Knightley seemed interested in her affections, and finally an intimate conversation of the day before. Emma was in a state of confusion. She was unsure when exactly she came to love Mr. Knightley, but she knew she did now. She hated herself for thinking she knew everyone's hearts, and she regretted all the pain she had caused and was still likely to. She saw clearly that everything was her fault--she brought Harriet and Mr. Knightley together, and she encouraged Harriet. If she had only let her friend marry the proper man, Mr. Martin, all could have been averted.
Topic Tracking: Class 18
Now that somebody else wanted him, Emma was able to realize how much Mr. Knightley's attention meant to her. She did not always deserve his attention and guidance, but she always received it. Emma did not think he loved her, she just hoped he did not love Harriet. If he could just marry no one, she would be happy. Emma kept Harriet away for a few days, and received some distraction from a visit by Mrs. Weston. She had just visited with Jane Fairfax, who was very relieved to have met with so friendly a Mrs. Weston. Miss Fairfax apologized, and all was forgiven. She strongly blames herself, and feels great remorse. Her conscious kept her in poor spirits, and she feared she was poor company. She spoke of Miss Woodhouse's kindnesses in a way that made Emma quite embarrassed. Emma realized that jealousy had kept her from befriending Jane Fairfax, and she was ashamed at her behavior.
Topic Tracking: Guidance 20
Topic Tracking: Marriage 13
It was a gray day, and Emma and her father were in poor spirits. Emma remembered how Mr. Knightley would usually visit at such times, and she missed her friend. The changes likely to take place in Highbury Emma did not look to with anticipation. Mrs. Weston was pregnant, and a new baby would certainly keep her away from Hartfield. Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax would likely leave, and worst of all, Mr. Knightley would no longer be free to associate with them as he had. His time would belong to his wife, and his many visits would be no more. Emma felt this loss most of all, and knowing her friend would have his attention, and that she had caused it, made her miserable. She could gain comfort only from
"the resolution of her own better conduct, and the hope that, however inferior in spirit and gaiety might be the following and every future winter of her life to the past, it would yet find her more rational, more acquainted with herself, and leave her less to regret when it were gone." Chapter 48, pg. 388
The weather finally brightened, and so did Emma's spirits. She was walking outside when Mr. Knightley arrived at Hartfield. He walked with her, and she wanted to share the news of Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax, but he knew it already. Emma feared that his first visit might have been to see Harriet, not herself. But he heard the news from Mr. Weston, and his concern now was for Emma. He thinks she is in love with Frank Churchill, and he expects her to be very unhappy. Emma corrects him, and he tries to hold back his excitement. Emma reveals her shame at having never been attached to him, though she acted like she was. Mr. Knightley has lots of criticism for Frank Churchill, but Emma has more for herself. She liked the flattery and attention, and believes his motive was to deflect suspicion from his real attachment. Mr. Knightley warms a little, and hopes that with the good Miss Fairfax as his spouse, Mr. Churchill may improve more. Mr. Churchill is lucky to have found such a good wife at an early age; in fact, Mr. Churchill is fortunate all around. He envies the young man, and Emma, fearing he will speak of Miss Smith, does not pursue his comment. Confused and embarrassed, Mr. Knightley falls silent. Rethinking herself, Emma asks Mr. Knightley to speak to her about his concerns, as a friend. He does not like that word, because he is not just a friend--he loves her! Emma listens to this confession, and tells him she returns his feelings. She pities Harriet, but cannot refuse her own heart.
Topic Tracking: Marriage 14
Mr. Knightley had only come to see how Emma was handling the news of the engagement, but upon hearing her heart not attached, he could not hold back his feelings. Jealousy had made him leave for London, but now his long jealousy of Frank Churchill was over. He was miserable in his brother's happy home, and returned to Highbury only when he heard the news. He showed his heart, Emma accepted it, and the world felt terribly right.
Emma entered the house a happy woman. Mr. Woodhouse suspected nothing, but Emma feared his reaction. It was he and Harriet that kept her from perfect happiness. Unwilling to leave her father alone, Emma decides that she can not marry while he lived. As for Harriet, Emma decides to send her to stay with Isabella in London. Harriet needed to go to a dentist, and Emma could send her a letter detailing what had happened. The letter was sad to write, and only the appearance of Mr. Knightley could cheer her. That same day Emma received a letter from Frank Churchill. It was originally sent to Randalls, and the Westons had forwarded it to her. The letter was addressed to Mrs. Weston, and it offered explanations and asked forgiveness. It was true that Mrs. Churchill never would have approved the match, and it was only his hope of a change that allowed him to continue the engagement. He knew he acted poorly towards Miss Woodhouse, but he claimed that he only acted so without restraint because he knew she did not love him. He thought Emma knew of the affair, and this gave him peace to continue the charade. He was the giver of the pianoforte, without Miss Fairfax's permission. He praises his soon-to-be bride, whom he obviously loves very much. Frank Churchill sees his wrong, especially towards the Westons, and he is ashamed and regretful; yet he is also happy at his good fortune. His behavior towards Miss Woodhouse hurt Miss Fairfax, and he wishes he had not acted so flirtatious. The lovers quarreled after the day at Donwell when he met her on the road. He wanted to walk with her and she refused, fearing impropriety. He did not understand her, and they fought. He left for Richmond, and the next day she took the governess job. She sent him a letter ending the attachment; he answered it but forgot to mail it. She returned his letters, with a note remarking her new address. Then he knew his error. He told his uncle of the engagement, and when his uncle agreed to it, Frank Churchill left for Highbury. He found Jane ill, but they talked, and she agreed to marry him. He ends his letter with another plea to be forgiven, a hope his good fortune will continue.
Emma saw in the letter Mr. Churchill's suffering and remorse, and she softened her judgment of him. Mr. Knightley read the letter with a more critical eye, commenting to Emma upon points he found objectionable or hypocritical. A man of sense and the utmost honor and honesty, he cannot help but object to many of Mr. Churchill's statements. But he saw sincerity in the letter, and true feelings for Miss Fairfax, and he could not be cross for long. His next topic was Emma's father. He knew she could not leave him, so he had decided that he would move to Highbury, after the marriage. Mr. Woodhouse was too delicate and stubborn to be moved from Hartfield, but having Mr. Knightley move in he might agree to. Emma knew what a sacrifice this was, and she loved him even more. She did not think of the objection she had once given for Mr. Knightley's marrying, the disinheritance of little Henry Knightley, her sister's son. Ironically, the thought did not enter her head.
Emma liked his plan. Her only sadness came from Harriet. She would lose both lover and friend. Mr. Knightley, unlike Mr. Elton, was such a good man that to stop loving him would be hard. The prospect of a third love seemed unlikely, and Emma grieved for her friend.
Emma and Harriet stayed away from each other. Emma went to visit Jane Fairfax, who welcomed her warmly. Their visit could not be a private one, as unfortunately Mrs. Elton was there. Mrs. Elton had a letter from the family Jane was to have worked for, and she spoke about it as though Emma were ignorant of the story. Emma only smiled at her knowledge. Miss Bates came in and nearly spilled the "secret." Mrs. Elton, who always wanted to appear superior, became annoyed when Emma suggested she had the days of a meeting mixed up. But when Mr. Elton arrived, Miss Woodhouse was proved correct. But Mr. Knightley, whom he was to meet with, never showed up. This was quite unusual for the diligent Mr. Knightley, and Mrs. Elton viewed it as an insult to her spouse. She acted quite offended.
Topic Tracking: Marriage 15
Topic Tracking: Gossip 16
When Emma is leaving she has a few moments alone with Jane Fairfax, who wants to apologize. Emma also apologizes, and the two both agree to forgive. Jane reveals that in three months she will move to Enscombe, where she will live with her new husband and his uncle.
Mrs. Weston gives birth to a girl, whom she names Anna. Everyone is very happy for her, especially Emma. Emma and Mr. Knightley argue good-naturedly about how raising Emma prepared Mrs. Weston for her own motherhood. Mr. Knightley acknowledges his influence over Emma, and Emma acknowledges what a good effect he had on her. He was such an authority figure, though a soft one, that Emma says she won't be able to call him George. Except at the wedding ceremony, he will still be Mr. Knightley to her.
Topic Tracking: Guidance 21
Emma worries about her relationship with Harriet. They had hardly corresponded while she was in London. Mr. Knightley received a letter from his brother, who was not surprised at the news of his engagement. Mr. John Knightley seemed to have a better view into people's hearts than the matchmaker Miss Woodhouse! Mr. Woodhouse still had to hear the news. Emma tried hard to make it sound like a joy, not a sorrow; but her father was not happy. He tried to discourage her, and he talked about "poor Miss Taylor" and "poor Isabella." The old man hated change, even if it involved happiness for two people he loved. All his friends approved, and he thought that in a year or two, it might not be so bad. The news of the engagement spread around Highbury. Everyone approved, except for the snobbish Eltons
Topic Tracking: Gossip 17
Harriet would soon return from London, and Emma is worried. Mr. Knightley has news regarding Emma's friend, which he fears Emma will not like. Harriet has accepted Mr. Martin's proposal of marriage. Emma is speechless and relieved. Mr. Martin met Miss Smith while he was in London on business. They were both at a party, and the next night a dinner. At that dinner, he proposed and she accepted. Mr. Knightley acknowledges Mr. Martin's low position, but also that the match is a good one for Harriet. Mr. Martin is a good man, and that is most important. Emma tells Mr. Knightley her silence is not from disapproval, merely surprise. Emma asks Mr. Knightley if he was sure of the story, a question that offends him. Of course he is sure, he even advised Mr. Martin himself. His time spent with Harriet was meant to find out her feelings, so he could best direct Mr. Martin. Emma laughs to herself, at what her friend imagined these attentions to mean. She is happy for her, and pleased her meddling has not ruined Harriet's life.
Topic Tracking: Class 19
Emma, in high spirits, visits the Westons with her father. They are not there long before Frank Churchill and Miss Fairfax arrive. They are awkward at first, but the addition of the baby and the Westons relieves the trio. Emma gives Frank Churchill her forgiveness, which he is happy to receive. He is surprised to hear that Emma had no suspicion of the engagement. He has heard of her own attachment, and congratulates her. But the lover is soon moved to the subject of his beloved, whom he admires from across the room. He praises her complexion, which Emma reminds him he once criticized. They talk of the months of secrecy, and their common bond. "'If not in our dispositions...there is a likeness in our destiny; the destiny which bids fair to connect us with two characters so much superior to our own.'" Chapter 54, pg. 440 They all laugh about the incident involving Mr. Perry and his carriage, which Mr. Knightley had interpreted correctly as evidence of a secret attachment. Emma left that day happy for the couple, but even happier that she had secured the superior of the two men. Thoughts of Mr. Knightley's good character cheered her all the way home.
Topic Tracking: Gossip 18
Emma's final worries were dispelled when Harriet returned from London, thoroughly in love with Mr. Martin. She had realized the silliness of her love for Mr. Knightley, and Mr. Martin's continued love had tickled her vanity. She had always liked the man, and his love helped convince her to marry him. Harriet Smith's father was revealed to be an honorable tradesman; nothing close to the gentility Emma had imagined. Mr. Martin was welcomed at Hartfield, and Emma found him to be a good man, just right for Harriet. Their friendship would lessen, but with marriage and her new class connections, it had to be so.
That September Harriet and Mr. Martin were married by Mr. Elton. Nothing uncomfortable could be seen. Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax were to be married in November, and in the middle month, October, Emma and Mr. Knightley decided to have their wedding. But Mr. Woodhouse was too unhappy, too fearful of the loss of Emma, and she could not continue. Their saving grace was a turkey robber. Mrs. Weston's and several other poultry yards had been robbed, and Mr. Woodhouse agreed that having Mr. Knightley at Hartfield would make him feel safer. Mr. Woodhouse thus agreed to the wedding date, almost happily.
It was too simple a wedding for Mrs. Elton, which meant that it was wonderful and tasteful to everyone else. Instead of grandeur the wedding boasted a guest list of true friends, who rejoiced with the couple and joined in their happiness.
Topic Tracking: Marriage 16