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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
One evening when Emma visits Randalls with her father, Frank Churchill suggests holding a ball at Randalls. When Frank prepares the list of ten dancing couples, Emma objects, for Randalls has no room large enough to allow ten couples to dance. The next morning Frank visits Emma and informs her that Mr. Weston has recommended the Crown Inn for the ball. Mr. Woodhouse objects to the ball at the Inn on the ground of guests catching cold.
All arrangements for the ball will be handled by Mrs. Weston, whom Emma praises for always being careful in her plans. Emma then accompanies Frank to meet the Westons, who are at the Crown Inn making the necessary arrangements. Before they finalize the dinner plans, Frank wants to consult Miss Bates and Jane Fairfax. Emma objects to Miss Bates' opinion, but Frank speaks in favorably of her. He then goes to bring the two women to the Crown Inn.
Frank Churchill hides his feelings about Jane from Emma and the Westons. By paying attention to Emma, Frank makes certain that no one suspects his relationship with Jane. Still filled with self- delusion, Emma thinks that Frank wants to have a ball because he wants to dance with her. She is happy that she is a better dancer than Jane.
Even when Frank wants to consult Jane and Miss Bates about the dinner arrangements at the Crown Inn, Emma has no suspicion about Frank's involvement with Jane. Neither do the Westons. They are convinced of his genuine interest in Emma and are happy when Frank asks Emma to dance the first two dances with him at the ball.
Frank gains permission from the Churchills to stay beyond a fortnight in Highbury. Emma is delighted at the prospect of having Frank's company for a few more days and looks forward to the ball at the Crown Inn, especially the dances with Frank. Knightley is the only one who opposes the ball and calls it "noisy entertainment."
The ball has to be cancelled because Mrs. Churchill falls ill, and Frank has to return to Enscombe immediately. Before departing, Frank goes first to the Bates' house, where he remains for a long time; he then comes to Hartfield to take leave of Emma. He praises Highbury people and expresses his warm feelings for Hartfield. Emma thinks that Frank is really in love with her and is feeling a bit embarrassed about proposing to her.
Mr. Weston arrives at Hartfield and tells Frank that they must leave. Emma is sad over his departure and the cancellation of the ball. She thinks about Knightley and how happy he will be when he learns there will be no ball. When Emma talks to Jane in a few days, she is surprised to find Jane indifferent to the cancellation of the ball.
Jane Austen tickles the reader's curiosity through the sudden departure of Frank Churchill and through the conflict in Frank's mind when he visits Emma for leave-taking. Still filled with self- delusion and romantic fancies, Emma is sure Frank's awkwardness at Hartfield is due to his desire to propose to her. Frank's departure, like his arrival, becomes a sensational event in Highbury. Emma is particularly upset by his departure.
Emma's belief that Frank is in love with her is her second big error of judgment. She imagined Elton to be in love with Harriet, when Elton was really in love with her. Now Frank is intensely in love with Jane, but Emma imagines herself to be his object of love. Jane Austen, through Emma, presents a humorous comedy of errors.
Knightley's reaction to the cancellation of the ball shows his real interest in Emma. He knows that Emma has sacrificed her life for her father's sake and has few opportunities for entertainment. Because of his interest in her welfare, he is genuinely sorry that the ball has been cancelled, depriving Emma of an opportunity for fun. In contrast to Knightley and Emma, Jane has little reaction to the cancellation of the ball. Since she has not been feeling well, it is not certain that she would have attended anyway. The reader wonders if she might have stayed away on purpose.