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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
Though Emma is happy to have attended the Cole's party, she feels uneasy afterward for two reasons: she had indiscreetly betrayed her suspicions of Jane's feelings to Frank Churchill, and she had realized her inferiority to Jane in playing and singing. At home, she sits down to practice vigorously on the piano for an hour and a half. She is interrupted by Harriet, who praises Emma's performance. Harriet then tells Emma that either of the Cox sisters is willing to marry Martin.
Emma suggests to Harriet that they go shopping at Ford's. While Harriet shops, Emma stands outside and sees Frank and Mrs. Weston approaching and then stopping outside Miss Bates' house. Seeing Emma, they come over to greet her. Mrs. Weston tells her that they are going to visit Miss Bates in order to see the new piano. Frank, however, volunteers to shop with her before going to the Bates, but Emma says she is only waiting for Harriet. Frank promises to tell Emma about the piano, and Emma goes inside the store to find Harriet. Soon Miss Bates and Mrs. Weston come to Ford's and ask Emma and Harriet to come for a visit.
It is obvious that Emma thinks of Jane Fairfax as a rival, even though she feels that Jane is socially inferior to her. She is afraid that at social gatherings, Jane will steal the show and be an object of everybody's admiration for her performance and singing. This bothers Emma, for she does not accept second place gracefully. As a result, she begins to practice the piano feverishly. She knows that she is guilty of a lack of persistence about the piano and everything else in life, even though she feels she has the potential to be very good at the piano.
When Harriet comes in and talks about Martin, Emma tries to change the subject. She is aware that Harriet appears to still be in love with the young man. Emma, therefore, tries to make sure that Harriet does not interact socially with Martin or his family. She is still very much the meddler in the affairs of other people, especially Harriet.
Although Emma is sensitive about Harriet's feelings, she is blinded about Frank's feelings. She has no clue that Frank is infatuated with Jane Fairfax; instead, Emma still feels he is attracted to her. When Emma accuses Frank of being insincere about his reason for visiting the Bates on the excuse of seeing the piano, it is dramatic irony at its best. He does use the piano as an excuse to see Jane, but Emma has no idea that is the reason.
Miss Bates' reference to Mr. Knightleys always supplying her with apples shows his humane consideration for the poor in Highbury, as is expected of the upper class.
When Emma arrives at Miss Bates' house, she sees Frank busy mending the spectacles of Mrs. Bates and Jane seated in front of her piano. As Jane begins to play, Frank sees to it that Emma sits beside him. Emma joins Mrs. Weston in praising Jane's performance and remarks that the piano is really nice. Frank states that Colonel Campbell has made a good selection; his gift shows the true affection of the Campbells for Jane. He then asks Jane to play the songs from the previous night.
When Emma tells Frank that she is ashamed of having shared her confidences with him, he expresses his happiness at having been made her confidante. He then refers to the tune Jane is playing and tells Emma that it is Mr. Dixon's favorite song.
When Mr. Knightley passes by on his way to Kingston, Miss Bates calls from the window, telling him Emma and Harriet are inside and asking him to come in. Although Knightley seems ready to come in, he changes his mind when he learns Frank and Mrs. Weston are also present. He tells Miss Bates he must come some other time to see the piano.
Emma does not appreciate Frank Churchill repeating her wild guess about Jane's piano being a gift from Mr. Dixon. She again regrets having confided in Frank and openly tells him about her displeasure. She also resolves not to confide her passing fancies to Frank anymore and not to entertain any ill feeling against Jane. Frank, however, continues to play on Emma's weaknesses.
The chapter emphasizes the theme of appearance vs. reality. The intelligent Emma should have realized that there was something between Jane and Churchill. It is not like the sensible Jane to put up with ungentlemanly behavior, but she is always tolerant of Frank. Moreover, Frank behaves as if he were a member of the Bates family, mending the spectacles of Mrs. Bates and welcoming Emma as if he were the host. Emma, however, looks only at the appearance of things from her point of view, never seeing the reality, and she is convinced that Frank is interested in her.
Although Frank is admired by Emma and the Bates, it is clear in this chapter that Knightley does not approve of him. He refuses to go in to the Bates house when he realizes that Frank is inside.