Emma Chapter 7
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.
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.