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Emma full discussion


The Box Hill party is not a success. The party splits into groups, not interacting much with each other. Emma carelessly insults Miss Bates. Frank also makes a comment later that sometimes matches made on public acquaintance become regrettable later. After the party ends, Mr. Knightley reprimands Emma for her comment to Miss Bates. Emma is greatly upset by this.

The next day, Emma goes to visit Miss Bates. She feels terrible about what she said, and feels worse after Miss Bates is exceedingly kind to her. Jane is not present for Emma's visit, being shut in her room with a headache. Emma learns that Jane as taken a governess position with an acquaintance of Mrs. Elton. She will be leaving in two weeks. Emma is surprised and concerned for the upset her departure will cause everyone, and is ashamed of her earlier thoughts about Jane and Mr. Dixon.

Emma returns to Hartfield to find that Mr. Knightley and Harriet have been by during her absence. Mr. Knightley is heading to London to visit his brother, Isabella, and the children. Emma is surprised by his hastiness. Before leaving, Mr. Knightley takes Emma's hand as if to kiss it, but doesn't. Emma is surprised at this.

The next day unexpected news arrives - Mrs. Churchill has died. Emma thinks that this will improved Harriet's chances with Frank. Emma also tries to offer her assistance to Jane, who is still not feeling well. All of her offers are declined, and it seems as though she is avoiding Emma in particular.

Mr. Weston later arrives to escort Emma to Randalls. He clearly has news which he thinks will upset her, but wants Mrs. Weston to be the one to tell her. When Emma arrives, Mrs. Weston tells her that Frank has been secretly engaged to Jane Fairfax since the previous October. They kept it secret because they knew that Mrs. Churchill wouldn't approve. Since his wife's death, though, Mr. Churchill has given his consent and blessing to the match, though he wishes them to keep it secret until more time has passed. Emma reassures Mrs. Weston that she had no romantic feelings for Frank, which was the Westons' concern. Emma is, however, angry at Frank's behavior toward her and Jane.

Emma is concerned with Harriet, believing her to be in love with Frank. She also understands Jane's behavior, and realizes that Jane must have seen her as a rival. When Harriet arrives at Hartfield, she already knows about the engagement, having run into Mr. Weston on her way there. Emma is surprised at Harriet's composure after hearing the news. When she asks about it, she finds that there has been some miscommunication between them. Harriet has never had feelings for Frank; it is Mr. Knightley who has captured her heart. Emma is completely shocked, and asks if Harriet has reason to believe that Mr. Knightley returns her regard. She recounts several instances when Mr. Knightley has shown her special attention, and Emma remembers many of them as well.

When Harriet leaves, Emma realizes that she has been wrong about everything, and that she herself is in love with Mr. Knightley. She does not believe that he returns her feelings, and imagines that even if he does, she still will not marry him. She will not leave her father alone.

Mrs. Weston comes for a visit, and explains that Jane was very distressed about the secretive nature of her engagement with Frank. She blames herself for her misjudgment and acknowledges Emma’s kindness during her sickness. Hearing this account, Emma again expresses anger at Frank’s behavior. She is also sorry that she has not been a better friend to Jane.

Emma goes for a walk in the garden. To her surprise, Mr. Knightley joins her. He has just returned from London. She worries that Knightley will confess his feelings for Harriet, and she offers her news about Frank and Jane’s secret engagement. Knightley already knows about it and offers his consolation, but Emma assures him she has never had feelings for Frank. She explains and expresses regret for her behavior, and Knightley is strangely silent. Finally, he admits he may have underrated Frank and expresses envy at his circumstances. Worried that Knightley is about to discuss Harriet, Emma quickly silences him. He is mortified, and seeing his pain Emma invites him to speak after all, saying she will be glad to hear him as a friend. He says he does not wish her friendship and declares his love. She is surprised, thrilled, and by the time they reach the house they are engaged to marry. Knightley is surprised as well—he was convinced that Emma was in love with Frank; he departed for London to cool his feelings for her, and he has returned thinking she would need comfort. He has moved from resigned despair to perfect happiness in half an hour.

That night, Emma lies awake worrying about Harriet and her father. She decides she will write a letter to Harriet explaining what has happened and arrange for Harriet to visit Isabella in London to give both of them some time to adjust to the new situation. She decides that she and Knightley must postpone their wedding until after her father dies.

Mrs. Weston forwards a very long letter to Emma, written by Frank. He apologizes to Emma, explaining that he knew Emma to not be attached, and that he was under the impression that she knew about him and Jane. He goes on to explain that he and Jane quarreled over his behavior to Emma, because she thought it inappropriate. Jane later broke their engagement. When Frank heard about her governess position, he threw himself on the mercy of his uncle, and rushed to Highbury after receiving his uncle's approval. He and Jane then reconciled, and Frank admits that he is happier than he deserves to be.

Emma completely forgives Frank. She has Mr. Knightley read the letter. He is not quite as forgiving as Emma, but admits that maybe he's not as bad as he thought. They discuss their engagement, and what to do about Mr. Woodhouse. Mr. Knightley tells her that he has been thinking about it. He knows that Mr. Woodhouse will not go to Donwell, so he suggests that he move to Hartfield. The more Emma thinks about it, the more she likes the idea.

Harriet agrees to go to London, and Emma decides not to tell her father of her engagement until Mrs. Weston has had her baby. Emma pays a visit to Jane, although she can't speak openly because Mrs. Elton is there and the engagement with Frank is still supposed to be a secret. Emma realizes that Mrs. Elton must know, because she keeps making really obvious remarks and allusions to it, assuming that Emma does not know. Mr. Elton arrives, upset because Mr. Knightley has missed a meeting with him. Emma assumes that he is waiting for her at Hartfield and takes her leave. Jane walks her out, and the two reconcile, both thinking they owe the other an apology.

Mrs. Weston safely delivers a baby girl, and Emma is thrilled. She and Mr. Knightley break the news of their engagement to Mr. Woodhouse. At first he is shocked and upset, but he gradually resigns himself to the change with some help from Mrs. Weston. There is also news from London - Harriet has become engaged to Robert Martin. Mr. Knightley thinks that Emma will be upset, but she is very happy with this news.

Harriet and Robert Martin are the first to be married in September, followed by Emma and Mr. Knightley in October, and Jane and Frank in November.


1. How do you feel about Jane and Frank' secret engagement? Did you have any idea that there was something going on between them?

2. Do you think Emma has changed much in the course of the book?

3. How do you feel about Emma's engagement to Mr. Knightley? What about their plan to live at Hartfield?

4. In general, how did you like the book?

5. What would you rate the book? Any other thoughts?

Next Wednesday, August 28th, we'll be discussing The Courtship in its entirety.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Aug. 24th, 2013 10:28 pm (UTC)
1. How do you feel about Jane and Frank' secret engagement? Did you have any idea that there was something going on between them?

I can't remember whether I thought that there was something going on the first time I read the book, but I've read it multiple times since and seen a couple of movie versions, so I knew it was coming.

I think that Frank is clearly immature. I can understand why they engaged in secret, but his behavior throughout the book (particularly the teasing about Mr. Dixon and the flirting with Emma) really cross a line. In the book he says that he thought that Emma knew about him and Jane, but there's no reason to think she would. I have trouble separating the movie (the Gwenyth Paltrow version, mainly) from the book, but I like that they highlight the fight and broken engagement between Frank and Jane. I'm glad to know that Jane had enough.

2. Do you think Emma has changed much in the course of the book?

I think that she's matured some and better understands how her actions affect others. I also think that she's better able to separate what is 'supposed to be' from what is.

3. How do you feel about Emma's engagement to Mr. Knightley? What about their plan to live at Hartfield?

I love that scene when they are walking just after Knightley returns from London. I've reread and rewatched it A LOT. :) I love how much disbelief there is that the other one shares their feelings. They are adorable in the movie version!

I had forgotten how much time passes in the book between when they are engaged and when they tell her father (makes their criticism of Frank fall a little flat).

As far as living at Hartfield, I think that it's hard to understand in modern times why that's a radical idea. Of course, when we watched the movie my husband didn't realize that Knightley had his own property that was even bigger than Hartfield. He thought Knightley was asking because he didn't really have a significant home. :)

4. In general, how did you like the book?

I love this one. I hadn't reread it in a while and since I was anticipating certain scenes I got impatient reading the first third of the book. Then Mrs. Elton showed up, though, and she's a hoot and a half.

5. What would you rate the book? Any other thoughts?

I'd definitely give it a five. It's Austen after all!

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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