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Free Study Guide-Emma by Jane Austen-Free Online Chapter Summary Notes
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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES

CHAPTER 31

Summary

With Frank gone, Emma begins to analyze her feelings. Although she is certain that she is in love with Frank, she is surprised that she is so cheerful in his absence. Moreover, whenever she imagines Frank proposing to her, she finds herself refusing his proposal, never experiencing any struggle between her love for Frank and her duty to her father.

Frank writes a letter to Mrs. Weston. She tells Emma that he has mentioned her in the letter and has apologized for forgetting to say good-bye to her friend Harriet. Immediately Emma, still preoccupied with thoughts about marriage, concludes that Frank is attracted by Harriet's beauty and innocence. She begins to imagine a romantic entanglement between Frank and Harriet.

When Harriet tells Emma that the Eltons are coming to Highbury, Emma asks Harriet not to make her feel guilty about what she has made Harriet suffer. Harriet immediately apologizes and assures Emma that she can never be inconsiderate to her. Harriet's sincerity impresses Emma very much, and she again feels that her young friend is morally superior to her. Emma compares Harriet's warmth to Jane's coldness and thinks that surely she will find a sensible husband for her soon.


Notes

Emma's interior monologue if filled with dramatic, psychological realism. Instead of describing and analyzing Emma, Jane Austen makes the character reveal herself. As Emma analyzes herself, she shows her lack of true feelings for Frank Churchill. Even when she imagines him proposing to her, she always refuses with the excuse she cannot desert her father.

Emma is still guilty of romantic fantasies. The reference to Harriet in Frank's letter makes her think of a romantic attachment between Harriet and Frank with no concern for the fact that the two are socially not equal. She also thinks that Harriet is pining away over Elton and asks her young friend not to make her feel guilty that the relationship between Harriet and Elton did not work out.

CHAPTER 32

Summary

Mrs. Augusta Elton is first seen in Highbury Church. Then Emma, with Harriet's company, calls on Mrs. Elton. Her visit is short because Elton is present and the visitors feel embarrassed. Emma is unable in such a short time to really evaluate the new Mrs. Elton. As they leave, however, Emma assures Harriet that Elton has married Augusta only for her fortune.

After a few days, the Eltons return Emma's visit. Emma finds that Mrs. Elton is vain and inelegant in her manners, for she tries to dominate the course of conversation. She keeps talking about her brother-in-law, Mr. Suckling, and his house, called Maple Grove, which she inappropriately compares to Hartfield. She suggests that in the summer, when he comes to visit with her sisters, they can all explore Highbury in her brother-in-law's barouche-landau.

Augusta seems to want to control things, which upsets Emma. She suggests that Emma should take her father to Bath for a change of climate and tells her that she will give her introductions. Then she proposes starting a musical society in Highbury with Emma.

Augusta also tells Emma about her visit to the Westons at Randalls. She says that she finds Mr. Weston an excellent creature and Mrs. Weston motherly, kind-hearted, and quite lady-like. She informs Emma that she also met Knightley at Randalls and finds him gentleman-like. When the Eltons finally leave, Emma judges Augusta to be an insufferable woman who lacks social propriety; she is horrified that she referred to Knightley without the proper mode of address and called her husband Mr. E. In contrast, Mr. Woodhouse finds Augusta to be a pretty young lady, although he complains about the quickness of her voice, which hurt his ears. He insists upon returning Mrs. Elton's visit despite Emma's strong objection.

Notes

Augusta Elton, in many ways, is a vulgarized version of Emma, but also a contrast. Both women are conceited and vain, largely because of their wealth. Emma, however, is the daughter of a gentleman landlord of the upper class, while Augusta is the daughter of a wealthy tradesman. Like Emma, Augusta can be frank; she also desires to dominate and patronize, like Emma, but she lacks Emma's sophistication, good sense, and intelligence. Emma is usually filled with social grace, but Mrs. Elton is inelegant in both mind and manners. She refers to Mr. Elton as Mr. E and speaks of Mr. Knightley as only Knightley, though she hardly knows him. She is inelegant in mind, hurting Emma's sensibilities by offering to take she and Harriet in her brother-in- law's barouche-landau to explore Highbury, by offering Emma introductions for a health resort in Bath, and by daring to suggest to Emma that they start a musical society for young wives. It is not surprising that Emma finds her detestable.

In this chapter, it becomes obvious that Emma really does not like any female that she cannot control. She is fond of Harriet, because the young girl does just as Emma pleases. On the other hand, Emma has no use for Jane or Augusta, because they are their own women and challenge Emma's dominance.

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