Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version
CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
CHAPTERS 35 & 36
After dinner, the women go to the drawing room, where Mrs. Elton avoids Emma and takes Jane aside to inquire about her chances of getting a job as a governess. Jane tells Mrs. Elton that she has not yet attempted to find one. The bold Mrs. Elton tells Jane that with her brother-in-law Suckling's recommendation, she can find a good situation with a rich family, especially with her musical talent. Jane states that she is in no hurry, for she wants to visit with the Campbells after their return from Ireland.
Mr. Woodhouse is the first of the men to come to the drawing room and Mrs. Elton comments on his gallantry. Mr. Weston then enters in a happy mood and gives his wife a letter from Frank; he has come straight from London. While Emma and Mrs. Weston read the letter, Mr. Weston informs the others that his son and the Churchills will be in London for a month, and he will visit them frequently. Mrs. Weston is happy to think about Frank's visits to Randalls, but Emma cannot decide whether the news makes her happy.
Mr. Weston tells Augusta that he opened Frank's letter even though it was addressed to Mrs. Weston. His reading of his wife's letter is not a serious offense since it is just information about Mrs. Churchill's recovery from her illness and their plan to stay in London for a month. Mrs. Elton suggests that it would be better for her health if Mrs. Churchill were to visit Bath or Clifton. Mr. Weston then turns the conversation to Frank, who is planning another visit in May. Their conversation ends when tea is served.
After tea, the Westons and Mr. Elton play cards with Mr. Woodhouse. John Knightley tells Emma that she must send his sons back to London if they stand in the way of her social engagements. Before Emma replies, George Knightley tells him that the boys can be sent to Donwell Abbey. As their uncle, he will watch them. Emma is hurt by Knightley's suggestion, for she realizes that he knows there is no social life for her in Highbury. She is seldom away from Hartfield for as much as two hours. Emma also knows she certainly has more time to care for the boys than George Knightley does.
Mrs. Elton again shows her lack of class when she refers to her husband in public as caro sposo and when she insists on helping Jane find a suitable job as a governess. Her meddling in the affairs of others is similar to Emma's meddling in Harriet's affairs. Unlike Harriet, however, Jane puts Mrs. Elton in her place, saying she is not interested in a job for several months and indicating she can find her own employment. Of course, Jane is a much more intelligent, mature, and polished young lady than Harriet. She knows very well what she wants and is confident of herself.
The fact that Mr. Weston comes straight to the party when he arrives from London shows the importance of social affairs among the upper class. He brings the good news that Frank will be spending a month in London with the Churchills and will again come for a visit with him and Mrs. Weston in May. It is obvious that he is delighted about the visit and very proud of his son. Being polite, Mr. Weston takes up a conversation with Augusta Elton, but is impatient with her rambling and arrogance. She quickly exposes herself to him for what she really is--a woman full of pretensions, who wants to be regarded as intelligent and well read.
Any mention of Frank is filled with dramatic irony. Frank is secretly involved with Jane, but pretends to be attracted to Emma. Emma, however, is not certain about her feelings for Frank and now imagines he will become romantically involved with Harriet. Emma's inability to judge her own response to Frank's second visit to Highbury shows that she is unable to read her own feelings.
In this chapter, Knightley again shows himself as a keen observer of Emma's feelings. Even though she did not listen, he had earlier told Emma that Elton was in love with her. Now he suggests that she is taking more than casual (or desirable) interest in what happens at Randalls. He obviously realizes that Emma has some attachment to Frank.
The news of Frank's upcoming visit to Highbury disturbs Emma. She cannot decide if Frank's feelings towards her will be as warm as they were during his earlier visit. Emma, however, is certain that she will prevent him from proposing to her. Before the Churchills move to London, Frank comes to Randalls for a few hours. Even during that short visit, he comes to Hartfield; but Emma feels that Frank is not as much in love with her as he was during his first visit, for he seems a bit confused although his spirits are high.
Frank returns to London and soon writes to his father that Mrs. Churchill is really ill. In order for her to receive proper medical treatment, the Churchills plan to move from London to Richmond, which is not far from Highbury. Frank says that he plans visit Highbury frequently, since Richmond is only an hour away. Mr. Weston feels that Frank's visit is motivated by his interest in Emma. To spur that interest, the Westons prepare for a ball at the Crown Inn.
Even though Frank treats her with indifference during his visit, Emma, still filled with self-delusion, believes he really loves her. She thinks that Frank is faced with a struggle in his mind between his heart and his head. Emma decides she must not encourage him in any way, for she will not be able to accept his proposal for marriage. Emma is not the only one who thinks Frank has an interest in her. The Westons believe that Frank is eager to visit Randalls because of his attraction to Emma; they plan to encourage his interest by planning a ball that he can attend.