header logo

Emma Summary


Here you will find a Emma summary (Jane Austen's book).
We begin with a summary of the entire book, and then you can read each individual chapter's summary by visiting the links on the "Chapters" section.

P.S.: As an Amazon Associate, we earn money from purchases made through links in this page. But the summaries are totally free!

Last Updated: Monday 1 Jan, 2024

Emma Summary Overview

Certain in her decision to remain single, a quick-witted young woman from the town of Highbury, fancied herself as a successful matchmaker after orchestrating the union of her tutor and a local widower, Mr. Weston. Encouraged by her seeming triumph, she endeavours to find a suitable partner for her new associate, Harriet Smith, an affable lady of uncertain lineage. Ignoring Harriet's evident affection for a prosperous farmer, Robert Martin, she sets her sights on pairing Harriet with the town's clergyman, Mr. Elton. However, her plans falter when Mr. Elton reveals his attraction towards her, not Harriet, causing a rift with her trusted friend and brother-in-law, Mr. Knightley, who had advocated for Martin as a suitable match for Harriet. Disgruntled and slighted, Mr. Elton promptly departs to Bath and hastily marries another woman. Left to console Harriet, she also grows curious about a newcomer to Highbury, Frank Churchill, the son of Mr. Weston. Brought up by his aunt and uncle in London, Frank's arrival has long been delayed due to family obligations. While Mr. Knightley remains suspicious of Frank's motives, she finds herself beguiled by his charm. However, she remains less enthusiastic about another arrival, Jane Fairfax, a skilled and attractive woman whose reserved nature and potential competition irk her. A web of suspicion, hidden motives, and misconceptions unfold, further complicated by increasing speculation about Frank and Emma's growing closeness, which Emma brushes off, seeing Frank as a more suitable match for Harriet. Unforeseen circumstances bring secrets to light when Frank's aunt passes away, revealing his secret engagement with Jane Fairfax. His flirtations with Emma were merely a smokescreen to conceal his true affections. Although she feared Harriet would be shattered by this revelation, she instead confesses her feelings for Mr. Knightley. This admission sparks a realization within Emma that she, too, is in love with Mr. Knightley. Much to her surprise and relief, Mr. Knightley professes his love for her, not Harriet. Harriet eventually finds solace in a second proposal from Robert Martin, which she accepts. The story concludes with a double wedding, Harriet and Mr. Martin, and Emma and Mr. Knightley, resolving the tangled web of affections.

chapter 1

Emma Woodhouse is first introduced to us as a young woman blessed with beauty, intelligence, wealth, and a loving father. However, she is a bit spoiled and tends to think highly of herself. Emma lost her mother at an early age, but found maternal care in her gentle governess, Miss Taylor. Following the marriage and relocation of Emma’s older sister, Isabella, to London, Emma and Miss Taylor developed a close friendship. Yet, as the story unfolds, Miss Taylor marries a widower, Mr. Weston, leaving Emma alone at Hartfield, her and Mr. Woodhouse's estate. Emma tries to comfort her father, who dislikes change, assuring him they will frequently visit Mrs. Weston. Still, she only manages to somewhat soothe her own disappointment. At this point, Mr. Knightley, the brother of Isabella's husband and a local, drops by after seeing their shared family in London. He supports the union of Miss Taylor and Mr. Weston and kindly teases Emma on her matchmaking. Emma, ever determined, vows to find a wife for Mr. Elton, the village priest.

chapter 2

Mr. Weston's past is revealed. He was initially married to Miss Churchill, a woman from a higher social rank. Their union produced a son, Frank, but was marred by the disapproval of Mrs. Weston's relatives, Mr. and Mrs. Churchill. When Miss Churchill passed away three years into their marriage, Frank was essentially taken in by the Churchills and named as their successor. Mr. Weston was left financially drained due to his first wife's high standards, forcing him to spend two decades rebuilding his wealth. Eventually, he bought Randalls, a small property where he now resides with his second wife, Mrs. Weston. The community has always been eager to meet Frank Churchill. He sends a warm letter to Mrs. Weston, expressing his intent to visit his father and his stepmother.

chapter 3

The Woodhouses host an intimate dinner, inviting their society friends: Mrs. Bates, her unmarried daughter Miss Bates, and Mrs. Goddard, who runs the local school. Mrs. Goddard brings Harriet Smith, a student with unknown parents. Emma, captivated by Harriet's beauty and her admiration for Emma and Hartfield, decides to befriend her. She aims to elevate Harriet's status by distancing her from the lowly Martins, who are farmers, and introducing her to more refined company.

chapter 4

Emma quickly bonds with Harriet, replacing Mrs. Weston as her regular walking partner. Despite finding Harriet's intellectual capacity lacking, Emma values her receptive nature. As they converse, Harriet opens up about the Martin family, whom she frequents. This family includes Mr. Robert Martin, a potential suitor, causing Emma to worry that Harriet might harbor romantic feelings for him. Emma deems a union between Harriet and Mr. Martin inappropriate due to the Martins' agricultural occupation, which she considers socially inferior. Emma attempts to dissuade Harriet's favorable impressions of Mr. Martin by questioning his education and warning Harriet that his future wife would be unsuitable for her friendship. When they bump into Mr. Martin during a walk, Emma urges Harriet to contrast his manners with the gentlemen they associate with, notably praising Mr. Elton's refined demeanor. It's revealed that Emma has resolved to facilitate a relationship between Harriet and Mr. Elton after observing them at a Hartfield gathering.

chapter 5

Mr. Knightley and Mrs. Weston have a discussion about Emma's budding friendship with Harriet. Knightley expresses concern that this relationship may be detrimental for both. He opines that Harriet's adoration could inflate Emma's ego, while associating with Emma could disrupt Harriet's contentment because she could become "just refined enough to be uncomfortable with those among whom birth and circumstance have placed her home." Mrs. Weston, however, holds a contrary view, believing that the friendship is beneficial for both girls, and she advises Mr. Knightley to stay silent on the matter. They finally speculate about Emma's future. Mr. Knightley, observing Emma's claim of lifelong singlehood and her lack of potential partners, expresses his wish to see her fall in love, and slightly uncertain about its reciprocation, as it "would do her good."

chapter 6

Emma highlights Mr. Elton's attributes to Harriet, certain that he harbors feelings for her. Mr. Elton compliments Harriet's refinement under Emma's influence and is quick to support Emma's decision to draw a portrait of Harriet. As Emma sketches, Mr. Elton shows keen interest in her work. Despite Mrs. Weston and Mr. Knightley's observations that Emma has enhanced Harriet's appearance, Mr. Elton fervently commends the similarity of the portrait. He offers to get the portrait framed in London. Emma is convinced that Mr. Elton's fervor is directed at Harriet, even while he expresses admiration for Emma's artistic abilities.

chapter 7

Harriet gets a marriage proposal letter from Mr. Martin and goes to Emma for guidance. Emma, assuming it's clear Harriet should reject the proposal, helps her frame a denial. Seeing Harriet's uncertainty, Emma distances herself, stating, “I shall not give you any advice, Harriet... This is a point which you must settle with your own feelings.” Harriet, influenced by Emma, hints at rejecting Mr. Martin. Emma instantly praises her for her choice, warning that their friendship would end if she accepted the proposal. The thought of losing Emma terrifies Harriet, and together, they write a letter declining Mr. Martin's proposal. Harriet is visibly upset by her decision, indicating her feelings for Mr. Martin. However, Emma distracts her with thoughts of Mr. Elton.

chapter 8

While Harriet is away at Mrs. Goddard’s, Emma and Mr. Knightley engage in a deep conversation about Harriet and Mr. Martin. Knightley shares that Mr. Martin sought his advice on proposing to Harriet, a match he approves of. Emma reveals that Harriet has already turned down the proposal, arguing that Mr. Martin is beneath her. This nearly infuriates Knightley who believes Mr. Martin is superior to Harriet in both wisdom and "true gentility." He surmises Emma's involvement in the rejection, accusing her of not being a good friend to Harriet. Emma defends herself by praising Harriet's looks and personality, also suggesting that Harriet's possible noble lineage makes her a suitable match. Knightley refutes Emma's assumption that Mr. Elton will marry Harriet, stating Elton desires a wealthy bride. This disagreement disrupts their camaraderie and they part on a sour note. The return of Harriet, who brings a gossip about Elton's possible engagement, provides some solace to Emma.

chapter 9

Emma and Harriet gather riddles, referred to as "charades," into a book. When Mr. Elton comes back from London, carrying a framed picture of Harriet, he adds a riddle of his own. Emma quickly solves it to discover that it refers to "courtship." She explains this to Harriet, who seems pleased despite not managing to crack the riddle herself. Emma suggests that the riddle might hint towards a future proposal, and records it in Harriet's book. Following a conversation about their family's forthcoming Christmas visit, Emma tells Mr. Elton that she has solved and recorded his riddle in Harriet's book. Mr. Elton's emotional response leads Emma to believe his feelings stem from seeing his riddle in Harriet's book.

chapter 10

Emma and Harriet extend their help to a less fortunate family located near Mr. Elton's parish. During the journey, Harriet, puzzled over Emma's unmarried status, gets a clarification from Emma about her decision to stay single. They show empathy for the struggling family they aid, but their attention soon drifts towards Mr. Elton, who they encounter en route. Emma orchestrates an opportunity for Harriet and Mr. Elton to be alone by lagging behind under the pretense of conversing with a kid and adjusting her boots. She uses the excuse of needing a new ribbon for her boots to suggest a stopover at Mr. Elton's vicarage. Despite Emma's manipulation to leave Harriet and Elton alone, Elton does not exhibit any interest in Harriet. Emma perceives him as unresponsive but remains undeterred in her matchmaking intentions.

chapter 11

The Knightley family, including Mr. and Mrs. John Knightley along with their children, make their appearance at Hartfield, effectively taking up all of Emma's focus. Mr. Woodhouse and Isabella are found sympathizing over the absence of Mrs. Weston, leading to conjectures concerning the possible visit of Mr. Weston’s son, Frank Churchill. Isabella resembles her father in terms of being both affectionate and anxious. Emma, however, feels that John Knightley, Isabella's astute husband, occasionally addresses Isabella and the family with a harsh tone.

chapter 12

Knightley dines at Hartfield and while he and Emma still hold differing views about Harriet, they make amends. Knightley shares with Emma how Mr. Martin is utterly crestfallen by Harriet's refusal. Isabella, updated on the latest Highbury happenings, questions about Jane Fairfax, Miss Bates's niece, and proposes that Jane would be an ideal mate for Emma. Their talk shifts to Mr. and Mrs. John Knightley's choice to visit Southend, a seaside resort, rather than the Woodhouses in the fall. Mr. Woodhouse supports the guidance of a friend, an apothecary named Mr. Perry. Isabella, however, insists that her own doctor, Mr. Wingfield, is more credible. Emma attempts to divert the conversation, but eventually, Mr. John Knightley retorts that Perry should concern himself with his own affairs. Emma and Mr. Knightley manage to restore harmony.

chapter 13

The Woodhouses and Knightleys are invited to a Christmas Eve dinner at the Westons'. Harriet and Mr. Elton are also on the guest list, but Harriet falls ill with a sore throat and can't attend. Emma, who happens to meet Mr. Elton as she visits Harriet, appreciates his kindness towards Harriet. However, she's confused when he ignores her advice to miss the party considering Harriet's absence. Mr. John Knightley, who sees this interaction, hints that Mr. Elton might harbor feelings for Emma. She laughs it off. Riding to the party with Mr. Elton, she notes with surprise his mood shift from worry for Harriet to excitement for the evening's festivities.

chapter 14

Emma, at a social gathering, tries to dismiss Mr. Elton's odd actions. However, his persistent attention towards her makes her suspect that Mr. John Knightley's notion of Mr. Elton's fondness for her might be accurate. Concurrently, Mr. Weston reveals that his son, Frank Churchill, will be visiting in the new year. Emma shows a level of curiosity in this disclosure as she has whimsically considered Frank a potential love interest, despite her decision to stay unmarried. Mrs. Weston admits to Emma her nervousness about meeting her stepson and her concern that Mrs. Churchill might stop him from visiting. The two of them muse about the circumstances at Enscombe, the Churchill's home, and Emma questions why a young man is so controlled by his guardian's whims.

chapter 15

Mr. Elton's concern for Emma's well-being over Harriet's annoys her. The sudden onset of snow worries Mr. Woodhouse and Isabella about their return journey home. Mr. Knightley, however, steps in and reassures everyone of a safe return amidst their worries. Dissolution of the party places Emma alone with Mr. Elton in a carriage. He takes this opportunity to confess his love and propose to Emma. She tries to redirect his affection towards Harriet, assuming he's intoxicated. Emma's taken aback when Elton clarifies he never had interest in Harriet. He believes that Emma was aware of his feelings for her and encouraged him. Emma retorts firmly, rejects his proposal and they continue their journey in a tense silence.

chapter 16

Returning to Hartfield post her encounter with Mr. Elton, Emma is filled with guilt reminiscing the past events. Her main sorrow is for Harriet, whom she realizes was influenced by her to develop feelings for Elton. Emma concludes that Elton was more attracted to her wealth than to her and she no longer feels sorry for him. She acknowledges the Knightley brothers' correctness about Elton and her own error. Emma pledges to quit playing matchmaker, yet she can't suppress the urge to find another potential partner for Harriet. The subsequent day, Emma finds solace in the thought that both Elton and Harriet's emotions couldn't have been very intense and that the incident can remain confidential. The following days of snowfall offer a temporary relief as everyone remains indoors, but Emma fears revealing the truth to Harriet.

chapter 17

The Knightleys depart for London and Mr. Elton informs Mr. Woodhouse that he'll be residing in Bath for a few weeks. Emma, feeling relieved, heads over to Harriet's to share the news. Emma feels deep guilt for her mistakes, while Harriet handles the information with grace and humility. This makes Emma feel as though Harriet is “the superior creature.” Emma brings Harriet to Hartfield to console her and help her forget Elton. Emma also starts preparing Harriet for the unavoidable encounter with Elton in their social gatherings once he's back from Bath.

chapter 18

Frank Churchill fails to show up as anticipated, which particularly upsets Mrs. Weston. Emma doesn't seem to mind, but pretends to be disappointed to match her usual behavior. This leads to a heated conversation with Mr. Knightley about Frank. Knightley questions why a man of Frank's age would let his aunt stop him from fulfilling his duty. Emma retaliates by suggesting that Mr. Knightley doesn't understand “the difficulties of dependence.” She empathizes with Frank's predicament and is certain he would have come if he could. However, Knightley insists that any sensible, honorable man would carry out his duty regardless. Emma foresees that Frank will be delightful once he reaches Highbury. Knightley, on the other hand, predicts Frank will be shallow and annoying, a bias that takes Emma by surprise.

chapter 19

While out for a stroll, Emma tries but fails to distract Harriet from her feelings for Mr. Elton. She decides they should visit Mrs. and Miss Bates, despite her usual reluctance to do so. At the Bates’ home, they cannot escape hearing about Mr. Elton’s adventures. Emma hoped to avoid any talk of Miss Bates’s niece, Jane Fairfax, but to no avail. Miss Bates reads a letter from Jane, who is in the care of Colonel and Mrs. Campbell. The Campbells plan to visit their newlywed daughter, Mrs. Dixon, in Ireland, indirectly leading to Jane's impending long-term stay in Highbury. Emma, with minimal proof, suspects a past romantic association between Jane and Mr. Dixon, the Campbells' son-in-law, providing a possible reason for Jane skipping the Irish trip.

chapter 20

Jane's background is revealed, tracing back to when she was orphaned at three years old due to her father's death in war and mother's demise from disease and sorrow. She resided with her aunt and grandma in Highbury until she reached eight. Thereafter, her father's friend, Colonel Campbell, took her into his home. He provided her with schooling but couldn't offer her inheritance, leading to the agreement that Jane would serve as a governess when she grew up. Despite this, the Campbell family cherished Jane and she experienced the luxury of high society in London. Her time in Highbury represents her final instance of liberty before her governess duties. After a two-year hiatus, Jane returns to Highbury. Emma's feelings towards her are complex. She doesn't favor Jane, though she can't fully comprehend why (Mr. Knightley suggests it might be envy). Nonetheless, Emma admires Jane's beauty and sympathizes with her impending destiny. However, Emma's dislike is reinforced by Jane's aloof companions and her own reserved demeanor. Emma learns about Jane's acquaintance with Frank Churchill in Weymouth, but Jane doesn't divulge many details about him.

chapter 21

Right when Mr. Knightley is about to share some important information with Emma, the Bateses and Jane show up. They are there to express their gratitude for the pork gift from the Woodhouses. They beat Mr. Knightley to the punch and reveal that Mr. Elton is going to marry a woman named Miss Hawkins. This piece of news surprises Emma, and she notices a knowing look on Mr. Knightley's face. Emma, recovering from her initial surprise, tries and fails to strike up a conversation with Jane. Then the visitors leave, just as Harriet comes in with her own piece of news: she met Mr. Martin and his sister in town. According to her, an initial awkward interaction turned kind, leaving her feeling somewhat shaken. Emma admires the Martins for their kindness but still believes their social status isn't high enough for Harriet. She sidetracks Harriet's thoughts by telling her about Mr. Elton's upcoming wedding.

chapter 22

Highbury locals are buzzing about Miss Hawkins, the future Mrs. Elton. Mr. Elton briefly visits the village to validate the gossip about his attractive, talented, and wealthy fiancée. Emma feels a sense of relief knowing his marriage will make his presence less awkward in their social group, yet harbors some resentment towards Miss Hawkins's lesser social status. Despite Emma's attempts, Harriet struggles to be indifferent towards the situation. Only discussing Mr. Martin can distract Harriet from Mr. Elton. Harriet becomes anxious when she receives a letter from Mr. Martin's sister at Mrs. Goddard's. Emma resolves that Harriet should respond to the note but limit her visit to assert the separation that Emma, though guilty, insists Harriet should keep from the Martins.

chapter 23

Emma escorts Harriet to the Martins' residence, having prearranged to collect her in a quarter of an hour. Harriet's visit with Mr. Martin's kinship is heartfelt, however, the Martins are left with a sense of disrespect when it ends abruptly. Emma, despite her discomfort, is convinced she's acting in Harriet's best interest. Her mood is lifted when she encounters Mr. and Mrs. Weston, bearing news of Frank Churchill's near arrival. Emma bumps into Frank at Hartfield the very next day, and his handsome, bright, and charismatic demeanor delights her. Frank flatters everyone, especially Mrs. Weston, a fact that doesn't go unnoticed by Emma. She notices Mr. Weston's hopes of a potential union between her and Frank and ponders if Frank has the same inclination. On his father's departure, Frank visits his Weymouth acquaintance, Jane Fairfax.

chapter 24

Frank Churchill and Mrs. Weston come to Hartfield, where Emma admires Frank's genuine affection for his stepmom. During a walk around Highbury, Frank takes an interest in landmarks of importance to his dad. He comes across an abandoned dance hall, proposing the idea of a dance despite Emma's objections regarding suitable families in the village. Emma asks about Frank's impressions of Jane from his visit to the Bateses. While Frank finds Jane aloof and not particularly appealing, he acknowledges her musical talent and affirms their frequent meetings in Weymouth. Emma discusses her suspicion about Jane and Mr. Dixon, which Frank initially opposes, but eventually agrees with Emma's familiarity with Jane. Overall, Emma takes a liking to Frank, finding him warm and sociable like his father, without the snobbish tendencies associated with the Churchills.

chapter 25

Emma’s impression of Frank Churchill deteriorates when he embarks on a quick trip to London solely for a haircut. Although Emma remains steadfast in her resolution to stay single, she considers Frank agreeable enough to not object to the assumption of their association by others. Mr. Knightley, however, views Frank as a frivolous youngster, reaffirming his initial suspicions. In the meantime, the Coles, a prosperous trade family residing in Highbury, extend an invite, puzzling Emma. She had initially resolved not to entertain any invitations from this newly wealthy family, but when the invite reaches everyone but the Woodhouses for a feast at the Coles’ residence, Emma feels excluded. When she finally receives an invite, she agrees to attend.

chapter 26

Emma comes to the Coles' gathering after Mr. Knightley, surprised to see him with a carriage since he typically walks. Dinner conversation reveals Jane Fairfax has been given an unexpected gift, a pianoforte. The piano is assumed to be from Colonel Campbell, but Emma voices her suspicion to Frank that Mr. Dixon might be the benefactor. Jane's blush upon interrogation about the piano fuels the suspicion. Mrs. Weston, however, believes Mr. Knightley arrived by carriage to take Jane home, and suggests a romantic connection may be brewing between them. A vehemently resistant Emma can't stand the thought of Mr. Knightley marrying, for it would keep her nephew, George and Isabella's son Henry, from inheriting Donwell Abbey, Mr. Knightley's estate. Mrs. Weston also suspects Mr. Knightley to be the secret sender of Jane's pianoforte. Music fills the room as both Emma and Jane perform on the piano, with Frank joining in. Jane's voice starts to wear out after singing a multitude of songs, and Mr. Knightley steps in. Emma then probes Mr. Knightley about both the carriage and the piano. His responses assure her he didn't gift the piano, but she remains uncertain about his feelings towards Jane. When impromptu dancing begins, Emma is reassured as Knightley doesn't seek Jane as a partner. She's also contented when Frank chooses her over Jane for a dance. The celebration ends after just two dances, with Frank joking to Emma that he's lucky the dancing concluded early, or else he would've ended up inviting Jane to dance.

chapter 27

Feeling content from her night at the Coles', Emma is unsure whether to confide in Frank about her hunch regarding Jane, or even admit Jane's musical talent. During the party, Harriet learns that Mr. Martin dined with the Cox family, sparking rumors of a potential marriage between Mr. Martin and one of the Cox daughters. Emma, wanting to distract Harriet, takes her for a shopping spree. They then decide to drop by the Bates home, bumping into Frank and Mrs. Weston. Frank seems to have proposed the visit but suggests staying with Emma and allowing Mrs. Weston to proceed alone. Emma, knowing that Frank would later visit her at Hartfield, sends him onward. However, Miss Bates interrupts, asking for Emma's thoughts on Jane’s new pianoforte. Miss Bates, in her chatter, discloses that Mr. Knightley has gifted his season’s last apples to Jane, who adores them.

chapter 28

Walking into the Bates' lounge, Emma finds Frank preoccupied with repairing Mrs. Bates's eyeglasses, while Jane is at the piano. Frank inquires Jane about her notions on the origin of the piano, and when he notes, “True affection only could have prompted it,” Jane turns red. Emma, under the impression that Frank is jesting cruelly about Mr. Dixon, discreetly advises him to refrain. She regrets confiding her assumptions regarding Jane to him. Mr. Knightley drops in to inquire about Jane's wellbeing but declines to enter upon learning Frank is inside.

chapter 29

During a visit to Randalls, Frank and Emma decide to organize a ball. They initially consider hosting it at Randalls, but they deem it too cramped. Mr. Woodhouse confides in Mrs. Weston, expressing concern that Frank's careless door handling could expose Emma, Harriet, and Mrs. Weston to harmful drafts. Subsequently, Frank suggests holding the ball at the Crown Inn on behalf of Mr. Weston. Despite failing to pacify Mr. Woodhouse's fear of catching colds due to the new location, Emma reassures her father and agrees to the plan. Despite some logistical issues, Frank offers to bring Miss Bates and her niece - whose name he momentarily forgets - for additional input. Upon his return, the hurdles are sorted, the date for the ball is fixed, and Emma promises Frank that they will share the first two dances.

chapter 30

Emma fears that Frank's relative, Mrs. Churchill, might not let him stay for the upcoming ball, which is due after his visit. However, everyone breathes a sigh of relief when he gets the approval. Mr. Knightley is the exception, showing no enthusiasm for the ball or dancing. Emma views this as further evidence of his lack of interest in Jane. Jane, in an unusual display of candidness, admits her excitement for the ball. Days later, Frank has to leave for Enscombe due to his aunt's poor health. The ball is put on hold indefinitely. Frank's farewell to Emma is gloomy, and he seems on the verge of revealing something significant. An interruption from his father causes Frank to leave, leaving Emma feeling low. Without Frank's engaging personality, Emma feels Highbury society is lacking. Emma then considers the possibility that she may be slightly smitten with Frank.

chapter 31

Emma daydreams about her potential romantic scenario with Frank, but always envisions herself declining his affections. She thinks she has feelings for him, but not enough to stake her happiness on him, and she thinks his feelings may be fleeting. She ponders over his warm letter to Mrs. Weston, especially his slight mention of Harriet, and Emma wonders if Harriet could take her place in Frank's heart. However, she sticks to her decision of not playing cupid anymore. The town's curiosity is piqued by the impending arrival of Mr. Elton and his new wife. The thought of seeing Elton again disturbs Harriet, prompting Emma to advise her to move on, if not for her own peace, then for Emma's, as Harriet's lingering feelings remind Emma of her past mistakes. Harriet agrees, causing Emma to be touched by her affection. Emma concludes that Harriet's compassionate nature, something Emma believes she lacks, is indeed priceless.

chapter 32

Once Mr. Elton returns with his new wife, Emma chooses to visit them early with Harriet, hoping to restore normal social ties. Initially, Emma refrains from forming an opinion about Mrs. Elton, crediting Mr. Elton's discomfort to the unusual circumstances. However, when the couple visit Hartfield, Emma observes Mrs. Elton more closely and is appalled by her presumptuous manners. Mrs. Elton displays a fondness for materialistic symbols of wealth, such as her sibling's carriage, assumes a patronizing role towards Emma, and boasts about her inner values, which she clearly does not possess. Mr. Woodhouse, who is less perceptive, finds Mrs. Elton quite amiable and regrets not visiting her. He fails to comprehend Emma's annoyance when he suggests that "[a] bride, you know, my dear, is always the first in company," indicating the high standard of politeness bestowed upon a bride.

chapter 33

Emma's distaste for Mrs. Elton grows, and Mrs. Elton starts to reciprocate the feeling. Emma suspects that Mr. Elton has told his spouse about the regrettable incident involving her and Harriet. Consequently, the Eltons are particularly unkind to Harriet. Mrs. Elton decides to mentor Jane Fairfax in social matters, a move that baffles Emma. Equally confusing for Emma is Jane's refusal of another invite to Ireland with Mr. and Mrs. Campbell and Mr. and Mrs. Dixon, and her acceptance of Mrs. Elton's overtures. Emma shares her questions about Jane's behavior with Mrs. Weston and Mr. Knightley. While Mr. Knightley defends Jane's decision to accept Mrs. Elton's friendship, Emma uses the conversation to gauge Mr. Knightley's affection for Jane, telling him, “The extent of your admiration may take you by surprise one day or other.” A flustered and confused Mr. Knightley wonders if Emma has been trying to pair him with Jane. Emma denies this and he insists that he has no romantic feelings for Jane, arguing that Jane is too introverted. Emma is convinced she was correct about Mr. Knightley's lack of romantic interest in Jane, contradicting Mrs. Weston’s opinion. However, Mrs. Weston wonders if his haste to dismiss any romantic connection may suggest the opposite.

chapter 34

Emma organizes a dinner party for Mrs. Elton as a social courtesy. Harriet requests not to attend, allowing Emma to invite Jane Fairfax instead to fill the vacant spot. Emma also extends an invitation to Mr. John Knightley, knowing he'll be in town to visit family with his oldest boys. During the dinner, Mr. John Knightley chides Jane for retrieving her mail in the rain. Jane downplays the incident, but her flushed face and teary eyes stir conversation among the guests. Mrs. Elton offers her servant's services for Jane's errands, a suggestion Jane strongly declines. The conversation then shifts to handwriting, with Mr. Knightley admiring Emma's skills but disagreeing when she compliments Frank Churchill's. Emma grows suspicious of Jane's keenness to collect her own mail, but chooses not to inquire further.

chapter 35

Post-dinner, the ladies assemble in the drawing room where Mrs. Elton continues to discuss the topic of letter retrieval with Jane. Furthermore, Mrs. Elton expresses her desire to assist Jane in securing a governess job. However, Jane clarifies that she won't be considering any positions until she visits the Campbells in midsummer. Soon, the gentlemen join them. Mr. Weston, who had been away on work in London, arrives with a letter from Frank. The letter reveals that Mrs. Churchill has chosen to extend their stay in London. Consequently, Frank will have plenty of time to spend in Highbury. This development brings joy to Mr. and Mrs. Weston, while Emma feels a bit uneasy. Mr. Knightley, however, doesn’t appear particularly thrilled with the news.

chapter 36

Mrs. Elton and Mr. Weston engage in a drawn-out exchange that humorously follows different aims. Mrs. Elton seeks praise and boasts about Maple Grove, her affluent brother and sister-in-law's residence. Meanwhile, Mr. Weston discusses Frank and details the sickness of Frank’s aunt, Mrs. Churchill, who is also his sister-in-law. The chat is cut short by tea before it can escalate further. Mr. John Knightley offers Emma last-minute guidance about his sons and questions if they'll disrupt things at Hartfield given Emma's newfound sociability. Emma dismisses John Knightley’s suggestion, asserting she is more of a stay-at-home person than Mr. (George) Knightley, who appears amused and gratified by her claim.

chapter 37

Emma reflects on her unease about Frank's upcoming visit, concluding that her anxiety is mostly for him since her feelings for him aren't strong. Upon his arrival, Frank is cheerful and outgoing, but his visit lasts only quarter of an hour. Emma interprets this brief visit as a sign of his waning interest in her. Frank's aunt's requirements keep him away for the following ten days. Eventually, Mrs. Churchill decides to move her family from London to Richmond, making Frank geographically closer to Highbury. This delights Mr. Weston and a date is finally fixed for the long-awaited dance.

chapter 38

On the day of the dance, Emma is asked by Mr. Weston to inspect the preparations. She thinks she'll be able to sneak in a private chat with Frank, who will also be there. However, Emma isn't the only one Mr. Weston called on early, causing Frank to be restless as he continually looks at the arrivals. When Jane and Miss Bates appear, he helps them with their umbrellas. Mrs. Elton approves of Frank, while Miss Bates is enthusiastically thankful and pleased. Frank reveals to Emma his distaste for Mrs. Elton and her familiarity with Jane, before asking his father about the dance start time. Suddenly, Mr. and Mrs. Weston understand that Mrs. Elton expects to begin the dance, meaning they can't offer Emma the honor as planned. Despite this minor letdown, Emma enjoys the party's start but is bothered by Mr. Knightley's refusal to dance. She admires his presence among the other men and realizes he is observing her. The ball goes well, with only one incident spoiling Emma's fun. Harriet is left partnerless during a dance, and Mr. Elton, who is free, deliberately doesn't ask her. Mr. Knightley steps in to partner Harriet, easing her embarrassment, which pleases Emma. Later, she thanks him, and he inquires why the Eltons are her adversaries. She confesses her failed matchmaking attempt between Mr. Elton and Harriet, acknowledging Knightley's accurate assessment of Mr. Elton's character. Knightley, in turn, concedes that Harriet is more praiseworthy than he initially thought. Emma and Knightley further their newfound understanding with a dance.

chapter 39

Emma reflects happily on her interaction with Mr. Knightley at the dance, grateful that the Eltons' disrespectful attitude has finally ended Harriet's obsession with Mr. Elton. Out of the blue, Frank arrives, supporting a swooning Harriet. Once she recovers, Harriet narrates her encounter with a Gypsy child while walking with her friend, Miss Bickerton. Terrified, Miss Bickerton escapes, leaving Harriet incapacitated by an earlier cramp from the ball. As she begins to panic, she's surrounded by a group of Gypsies demanding money. Frank's unexpected arrival scares the Gypsies off. Emma speculates if this heroic incident might spark a romantic interest between Harriet and Frank. Though the event upsets Mr. Woodhouse and stirs gossip, the Gypsies depart from the area, resulting in no real harm.

chapter 40

Harriet visits Emma and reveals her feelings for Mr. Elton have faded, handing over small keepsakes she'd preserved as memories of him. Among them is a piece of court-plaster she'd given to Elton, which he'd partly used and discarded. Emma recalls untruthfully denying possessing any plaster, so Harriet could have the chance to treat Elton. Another memento Harriet discards into the fire is an unessential pencil scrap which Elton had thrown away. Emma secretly wishes for Frank to replace Elton in Harriet's heart. In a subsequent discussion, Harriet declares she will never wed, leading Emma to suspect this may be due to Harriet's interest in a man of higher social status. Emma cautiously inquires if Harriet is fond of someone of superior rank. Receiving an affirmative reply, Emma expresses no shock owing to the unnamed individual's benevolent act towards Harriet. Emma advises dropping the subject and suggests Harriet remain careful, yet not abandon all hope.

chapter 41

Knightley grows suspicious of a potential clandestine relationship between Frank and Jane. On a leisurely stroll with Emma, Harriet, the Westons, Frank, Jane, and Miss Bates, he observes an odd interaction. Frank queries Mrs. Weston about Mr. Perry’s intention to purchase a carriage—an event she knows nothing about. Frank insists she mentioned it in a previous letter, which she refutes, leading Frank to conclude he had dreamt it. Miss Bates, however, recalls a hushed discussion about the Perrys acquiring a carriage at her home, with Jane in attendance. Knightley notices Frank making secretive eye contact with Jane afterwards. As the group arrives at Hartfield, they are invited inside for tea by Emma. An alphabet game takes place, during which Frank spells out “blunder” and shows it to Jane, followed by “Dixon”, revealed to Emma and then Jane, who responds with irritation. Once the tea party disperses, Knightley stays back to speak with Emma. He's aware that she is perceived as Frank’s love interest and wants to caution her. He probes about the “Dixon” incident, but an uncomfortable Emma refuses to elaborate. He then shares his theory about Jane and Frank, only for Emma to dismiss it, assuring Frank’s disinterest in Jane. This leaves Knightley feeling frustrated and silenced by Emma's implicit claim that she knows Frank's intimate feelings.

chapter 42

The group is all set for a trip to Box Hill, but a horse injury puts a spanner in the works. Mr. Knightley, in a playful mood, proposes they gather at his property instead. Mrs. Elton gets overly enthusiastic about the proposition, forcing Knightley to hold her back from taking over the plans. Luckily, the horse recovers, and they settle on visiting Box Hill after a detour to Donwell Abbey, Knightley's estate. At Donwell Abbey, Emma takes pleasure in exploring Knightley's residence and its surrounding area. She eavesdrops on Jane as she declines a job offer for a governess role that Mrs. Elton arranged. Strolling in the garden, Emma spots Harriet and Knightley together, which seems unusual to her but she feels reassured about Harriet's wellbeing. Mrs. Weston, on the other hand, is anxious about Frank's delayed arrival from Richmond. Back at the house, Emma bumps into a distraught Jane who requests Emma to inform the others that she has already left for home. When Frank finally appears, he seems disgruntled and suggests a foreign trip during a chat. Emma playfully lightens his mood, and he agrees to accompany them to Box Hill.

chapter 43

The Box Hill outing is a flop. The Eltons keep to themselves, while Mr. Knightley, Miss Bates, and Jane form their own group. Emma hangs out with Harriet and Frank, but finds them uninspiring. Frank's sudden burst of energy and charm doesn't fool Emma, but she knows others might misinterpret their banter. The group lounges around aimlessly until Frank declares that Emma wants to know their thoughts. Mrs. Elton takes offense at Frank's attention to Emma, and Knightley cynically asks if she really wants to hear his thoughts. Frank then insists everyone share something interesting, saying, “one thing very clever... or two things moderately clever; or three things very dull indeed.” Miss Bates cheerfully says she can easily come up with dull things, but Emma sarcastically retorts “Ah! ma’am, but there may be a difficulty. Pardon me, but you will be limited as to number—only three at once.” Mr. Weston gives a riddle complimenting Emma and the Eltons leave, disgruntled. Frank observes that some publicly formed relationships turn out to be mistakes, implying the Eltons are fortunate to be well-matched. Jane disagrees and heads off with her aunt and Mr. Knightley. Alone with Frank, Emma grows weary of his flattery. Later, Mr. Knightley scolds Emma for her lack of kindness towards Miss Bates. He points out her hard life and tells Emma she deserves empathy. Emma is deeply upset by this, feeling “so agitated, so mortified, [so] grieved” that she weeps on her journey home.

chapter 44

Emma feels remorseful for the unsuccessful Box Hill gathering and how she acted towards Miss Bates. Seeking solace, she visits the Bateses early the next day. Emma is reprimanded by Miss Bates's humility and goodwill, while Jane stays in her room with a headache. Jane has agreed to the governess job suggested by Mrs. Elton, leaving Emma worried and surprised about the sadness her departure will cause. Jane will take off in two weeks. News about Frank leaving for Richmond the night before surprises Emma. She makes a comparison between Mrs. Churchill’s influence and Jane’s. Emma regrets her former assumptions about Jane and Mr. Dixon's relationship.

chapter 45

Arriving back at Hartfield, Emma finds Mr. Knightley and Harriet there. Mr. Knightley's unexpected plan to head to London to see John and Isabella catches Emma off guard. Mr. Woodhouse questions Emma about her time with the Bateses. Emma, blushing, shares a look with Knightley, convinced he knows and pardons her feelings. He makes an uncommon motion, reaching out for her hand and almost planting a kiss on it. This leaves her pleased but slightly confused about his hesitation. News comes the following day that Mrs. Churchill has passed away. Emma wonders if Harriet’s chances with Frank could increase because of this. On the other hand, she tries to offer help to Jane by inviting her to Hartfield, supplying her with nutritious food, and attempting to pay her a visit. Jane cites poor health as a reason for her unavailability, but Emma learns that Jane has been indulging in outdoor activities. This makes Emma feel slighted, thinking Jane is deliberately steering clear of her.

chapter 46

Mr. Weston brings Emma to Mrs. Weston, making it apparent that something is wrong. Emma worries for her sister Isabella's family, and Mr. Knightley in London, but Mr. Weston confirms they are not linked to the issue. Upon reaching Randalls, Mrs. Weston reveal to Emma that Frank confessed his secret engagement with Jane. Emma is taken aback and feels guilt for the comments she had made about Jane to Frank, and she also worries about Harriet's reaction. In a swift move, Emma assures Mrs. Weston that she holds no affection for Frank. Yet, she is upset about how he had treated her and Jane. Mrs. Weston backs her stepson, informing Emma that miscommunications occurred between him and Jane, and he plans to explain everything in a letter soon. Mr. Churchill has approved of the engagement but requests secrecy for a while, following his wife's passing. When Mr. Weston enters, Emma confirms that the news about Frank's engagement has not wounded her.

chapter 47

Emma is suddenly hit with the realization that she wants Mr. Knightley to marry no one else but her. However, she's also worried for Harriet. She feels responsible for not discouraging Harriet's affection for Frank. Emma also gains new understanding about Jane's avoidance of her, realizing she was seen as a rival. Emma is fearful about breaking the news to Harriet, but when Harriet comes to Hartfield, it turns out she already knows the story from Mr. Weston. Emma is taken aback by Harriet's calm demeanor. As it happens, Harriet was never smitten by Frank. Instead, she's been nurturing feelings for Mr. Knightley. Despite their social status difference, Harriet remains hopeful that Emma's support could help elevate her to Mr. Knightley's level. Emma is rocked by another revelation— her own love for Mr. Knightley! She hides this from Harriet, and instead asks if Harriet thinks Mr. Knightley reciprocates her feelings. Harriet points to numerous instances of Knightley's special attention towards her, instances that Emma remembers too. After Harriet leaves, Emma sinks into self-reflection, lamenting her misjudgments, especially about her own feelings. She fears that Knightley might lower his status by marrying Harriet, and it was her who made this possible.

chapter 48

Emma reevaluates recent incidents, recognizing her desire to be Mr. Knightley's primary concern. However, she feels uncertain that he might reciprocate her feelings, especially after his recent annoyance over her rude behavior towards Miss Bates. Despite her feelings for him, she doesn't think she can accept a marriage proposal due to her responsibility towards her father. She looks forward to seeing how he interacts with Harriet. Mrs. Weston visits, sharing that Jane confessed her anguish over her clandestine engagement. Jane regrets her errors of judgment and appreciates Emma's kindness during her illness. Emma reacts with anger towards Frank's actions, but Mrs. Weston defends him despite not having read his explanatory letter. Emma's attention, though, is consumed by thoughts of Mr. Knightley. She feels remorse for not being a better friend to Jane, following Knightley's advice, and dreads the loneliness she'll feel without his frequent visits to Hartfield.

chapter 49

Emma strolls in the garden and unexpectedly encounters Mr. Knightley, who has just returned from London. She shares with him the news of Frank and Jane's clandestine engagement, anticipating that Knightley might reveal his own feelings for Harriet. Yet, Knightley appears to already know about the engagement and sympathizes with Emma, who reassures him she never harbored feelings for Frank. She also conveys remorse for her past conduct, which is met with silence from Knightley. Knightley eventually breaks his silence, confessing that he may have misjudged Frank and also revealing a sense of jealousy towards him. Fearing he might shift the conversation to Harriet, Emma cuts him off abruptly. She notices his distress and encourages him to continue speaking, promising to listen as a friend. However, Knightley counters that he isn't interested in friendship, but instead declares his love for her. Emma is taken aback yet elated, and by the time they reach home, they are engaged to be married. Knightley also reveals his surprise, as he initially believed Emma loved Frank. He had left for London to suppress his affection for Emma, thinking she would need solace upon his return. His emotional state transitions from despair to joy within a mere thirty minutes.

chapter 50

Emma wrestles with her emotions as she and Mr. Knightley share tea with her father. She spends a sleepless night, plagued by concerns for Harriet and her father. Emma concludes that she'll pen a letter to Harriet and suggest she visit Isabella in London, providing them both some space to adjust to the recent events. She also concludes that her wedding with Knightley should be delayed till after her father's demise. Mrs. Weston delivers a letter from Frank to Emma. In it, Frank admits that his conduct, including his interactions with Emma, were driven by the need to keep his engagement to Jane a secret. He expresses regret for his actions, justifying that he knew Emma wasn't emotionally involved with him. He was under the assumption that Emma was aware of his relationship with Jane. His love for Jane is profound and he's distressed about causing her pain. The duo had a disagreement on the day of the Donwell Abbey party, as Jane wasn't pleased with his behaviour around Emma, deeming it unsuitable to maintain their secret. Frank was annoyed with Jane's cautious approach, seeing it as distant behaviour. After this, Frank departed to Richmond, and Jane ended their engagement via a letter. He received this just as his aunt passed away, and amidst the resulting correspondence chaos, he overlooked sending a reconciliatory reply. Jane returned his letters, hinting that he could give her letters back at her governess job. This was the first time Frank heard of her new job, leading him to plead with his uncle, who eventually agreed to their union. Consequently, Frank rushed back to Highbury to find an ailing Jane. They patched things up, and Frank confesses that he feels more fortunate than he probably should.

chapter 51

Overwhelmed with joy, Emma finds herself pardoning Frank. Showing Knightley Frank's letter, they share their differing viewpoints, with Knightley acknowledging some of Frank's merits despite being less lenient. They deliberate about her father's situation, concluding that neither she leaving Hartfield nor Mr. Woodhouse relocating to Donwell Abbey is plausible. Knightley proposes he move to Hartfield instead, which deeply touches Emma. She assures him she'll consider the idea, and quickly warms to it. Yet, she can't shake off the melancholy feeling that this arrangement and engagement will drive a wedge between her and Harriet.

chapter 52

Harriet consents to Emma's proposal to make a trip to London under the guise of a dental appointment, a plan that allows Emma to spare Harriet from hearing about her impending marriage to Mr. Knightley. Emma opts not to disclose her betrothal to her father until Mrs. Weston, who is expecting, has her baby. She takes this time to stop by Jane's. Their conversation is restricted due to Mrs. Elton's presence and the need to keep Jane's engagement secret. Nonetheless, Emma suspects from Mrs. Elton's comments and gestures that she's aware of Jane and Frank's engagement. An irritated Mr. Elton arrives, miffed that Mr. Knightley missed their appointment. Emma assumes he must be at Hartfield waiting for her and departs. Jane escorts her out and they make amends, both feeling apologetic and harboring positive feelings toward each other.

chapter 53

Emma rejoices as Mrs. Weston gives birth to a girl. Mr. Knightley fondly recalls Emma's stubborn nature during her youth. Emma appreciates his past advice, but he modestly suggests she would have thrived regardless. Emma is saddened that she can't discuss Harriet with Mr. Knightley openly. Their engagement is acknowledged by Mr. John Knightley, who surprises them by not being taken aback by the news. Emma gathers her strength to inform her father. Mr. Woodhouse reacts with shock but slowly starts to accept the situation. Mrs. Weston convinces him that it would increase his joy, not lessen it. She is thrilled by the match. Mr. Weston informs Jane and Miss Bates about the news, and quickly, Emma and Knightley's engagement becomes Highbury's hot topic. The only ones not happy about Emma's excellent match are the Eltons.

chapter 54

Mr. Knightley informs Emma that Harriet is set to wed Robert Martin. Knightley orchestrated a meeting between Harriet and Mr. Martin in London, and their relationship developed from there. Emma, rather than being upset, is delighted and relieved by the news. She is grateful she hasn't caused Harriet more harm and is relieved she can now be open with Knightley about Harriet's feelings. Emma and Mr. Knightley pay a visit to Randalls where they meet Frank and Jane. Initially, Emma's interaction with Frank is uncomfortable, but they soon regain their camaraderie, reminiscing about past events. Frank's nonchalant attitude about the trials he and Jane went through is met with disapproval from Jane and Emma, making Emma appreciate Knightley's better qualities even more.

chapter 55

Harriet comes back from London, having gotten over her feelings for Knightley. It turns out that Harriet's dad is a tradesman, not an aristocrat, as Emma had assumed. Emma meets Mr. Martin at Hartfield, understanding that her relationship with Harriet will have to adjust due to their differing social statuses. Harriet and Mr. Martin wed in September, making them the first of the newly betrothed pairs to do so. Frank and Jane will be the last, tying the knot in November. Jane is currently staying the Campbells, and she and Frank plan to reside at Enscombe. Emma hopes to have her wedding in October, but getting her father's approval seems unlikely. However, after Mrs. Weston's poultry-house is burglarized, Mr. Woodhouse welcomes the idea of Mr. Knightley's presence for security purposes. The wedding may not be grand enough for Mrs. Elton, but it lives up to the expectations of true friends who witness it. They would describe the union as the epitome of happiness.

Enjoying this summary?
Buy the book! (it's better)

Lists that recommended Emma