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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
Emma is tense because Isabella, her family, and Harriet are due to arrive at Hartfield. Knightley arrives and tells Emma that Harriet is to marry Robert Martin. He proposes that they should not discuss the matter since they differ in their views about the Harriet-Martin relationship. Emma tells Knightley that she has changed her mind in this respect. Knightley then tells Emma that he had asked Martin to deliver some papers to John since he was going to London. John invited the young man to his house, where Martin had an opportunity to speak with Harriet. He proposed to her and she readily accepted his offer. Martin came to Knightley asking advice about how to gain consent for marrying Harriet. The changed Emma tells Knightley that she is happy for them, for they are socially well suited. She admits she had been foolish to try and separate them.
Emma then confides to Knightley that Harriet had been interested in him. Knightley tells Emma that although he finds Harriet to be a good-tempered, softhearted woman, he was never interested in her romantically. Their conversation is interrupted by Mr. Woodhouse, who comes to inform them that he and Emma would be soon going to Randalls. Upon arriving at the Westons, they discover that Frank and Jane are also there.Frank thanks Emma for forgiving him. He also praises Jane, saying she looks better and healthier than ever. They will make their final plans when the Campbells return from Ireland. Mr. Churchill will also visit Randalls in order to meet Jane. Frank then congratulates Emma for her engagement to Knightley. She replies that both she and he are very lucky, for they will be marrying persons superior to themselves. Frank agrees that Jane is superior and calls her a complete angel in thought and appearance.
While the two of them are busy talking, Mr. Woodhouse advises Mrs. Weston to consult Dr. Perry whenever the baby is a little unwell. The mention of Dr. Perry reminds Frank of his earlier mistake when he revealed that the doctor would be buying a carriage, a secret he had heard from Jane. Fortunately, Jane can now smile about the incident.Emma and her father soon leave Randalls. On the way home, Emma compares Frank with Knightley and realizes that her future husband is much superior in character.
A totally happy ending with everything solved is one of the conventional characteristics of comedy. In Emma, Jane Austen resolves all the problems and rounds off the plot with wedding bells ringing for every eligible person. Harriet Smith has the opportunity to visit with Robert Martin when they are both in London. In Highbury, they had been unable to meet and talk due to Emma's interference. Their face-to-face meeting rekindles their emotions for each other. When Martin proposes, Harriet gladly accepts. The more mature Emma is delighted over their engagement and realizes they are a perfect couple, properly matched socially.Frank and Emma also have a chance to work out their hard feelings. When Emma and her father go to Randalls, Frank and Jane are present. Frank approaches Emma and thanks her for forgiving him and congratulates her on her engagement. Emma, with total lack of vanity, points out that both of them are lucky, for they are marrying people who are superior to them. A more humble Frank than previously seen admits that Jane is his better and calls her a perfect angel. But he is still petty, caring more for external appearance than for intellectual and moral values. On the way home, Emma thinks about Knightley's superiority over Frank.
When Harriet returns from London, Emma arranges a private conversation with her. Harriet admits to Emma that she had deceived herself into believing that she loved Knightley when she was really in love with Martin all along. She was delighted to accept Martin's proposal. The event becomes more joyful when it is discovered that Harriet is the daughter of a tradesman who is rich enough to give her a nice dowry. Harriet and Martin are invited to Hartfield. When Emma gets to know him, she finds Martin to be a young man of worth and good sense. Emma thinks Harriet is very lucky to have a man that can display such a steady and persevering love.
Harriet and Martin marry in September, the first of the three couples. Emma and Knightley are to marry in October. Jane and Frank's wedding will occur in November. At first, Mr. Woodhouse does not consent to Emma's wedding; but when poaching becomes a problem in Highbury, he decides that there is an advantage to having a son-in-law in the house.
Mr. Elton serves as the priest at Emma and Knightley's wedding, which is free from any affectation. Mrs. Elton calls the wedding a shabby affair, much inferior to her own event. The friends of Emma and Knightley feel differently; they feel it was a perfect affair and are sure of the happiness of the couple.
Jane Austen ends the plot, as in a romantic comedy, with wedding bells ringing. Each of the three marriages is a favorable one for the wife. Jane, a highly educated and accomplished orphan from a socially inferior class, is to wed Frank, who is from the landed gentry and heir to much property from the Churchills and the Westons; their marriage saves Jane from becoming a governess. Harriet Smith, an illegitimate child of unknown parentage who is pretty and sweet natured, marries a materially well off farmer. Emma and Knightley, both members of the landed gentry, are social equals, but Emma is convinced that Knightley is her moral superior.
Emma's passion for matchmaking almost stood in the way of all three marriages. Because she was so concerned about the love affairs of others, she did not have time to discover her own feelings for Knightley; she almost missed out on a perfect marriage. Then she almost ruined Harriet's chances of marrying Martin. Emma convinced her friend that Martin was beneath her and tried to involve Harriet with Elton and then Frank. Emma herself was at first attracted to Frank and then tried to get Harriet involved; this meddling almost destroyed the love between Jane and Frank. Fortunately, Emma matures in the course of the book, and all the appropriate marriages are able to take place.