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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 40

Summary

A few days later, Harriet comes to Hartfield with a small momento box in her hand. She confesses to Emma her madness to have preserved objects like the plaster that she had given Elton when he had cut his finger with Emma's penknife. Another treasure that Harriet takes from her box is a small piece of pencil that Elton had intended to use. Harriet tells Emma that she wants to burn these momentos in her presence to prove she is completely cured of her love for Elton. Emma compares herself to Harriet and realizes that she had never thought of preserving a momento from Frank Churchill. She takes it as further proof that she is not in love with Frank. Now she is free to bring Harriet and Frank together.

After a few days, Harriet makes another confession to Emma, saying she never plans to get married. When Emma asks her the reason, Harriet tells her that only one man inspires her with gratitude for changing her misery into happiness. Emma assures Harriet that she will not interfere in her love life again and asks her not to mention the gentleman's name. Emma, however, compliments Harriet for showing good taste in loving a person superior to her in social position; Harriet kisses Emma's hand in gratitude.


Notes

Jane Austen's irony is clearly at work in this chapter. Harriet has carefully saved insignificant momentos from Elton in a treasure box, revealing her deep emotional involvement with him in the past. Since Elton is now married, she wants to burn the momentos in Emma's presence. Emma is made to realize that she herself never really cared for Frank, for she never wanted to keep a momento from him. Emma is also made to realize how badly she has hurt her friend by playing around with her love life. Emma, therefore, promises Harriet that she will not interfere again. When Harriet says that she will never marry, for there is only one man who holds her respect and gratitude, Emma does not want to know his name; she does not want to be tempted to get involved. Of course, Emma assumes the man is Frank, who had saved Harriet from the gypsies; in truth, Harriet is thinking of Knightley, who had saved her from Elton's contemptuous looks and indecent remark.

CHAPTER 41

Summary

The Campbells are not going to return from Ireland before August; therefore, Jane will stay an additional two months in Highbury.

Mr. Knightley suspects Frank of double standards in his pursuit of Emma and dislikes him for it. He also notices Frank's flirtatious behavior with Jane. Emma herself continues to imagine Frank getting involved with Harriet.

One evening at Hartfield, Knightley joins Emma and Harriet for a stroll. In the course of the walk, they meet the Westons, Miss Bates, and Jane. Emma asks all of them to come to Hartfield for tea. As they are entering Hartfield, Dr. Perry happens to pass by on horse. Frank immediately refers to Dr. Perry's plan of having his own carriage. All are surprised at this piece of news, because nobody else has heard about it. Frank turns to Mrs. Weston and tells her that she had written to him about it three months back. Mrs. Weston disowns having done so. Frank persists and says that Dr. Perry's wife had insisted on a carriage.

Since Mrs. Weston also persists in saying that she had never written this piece of news, Frank says that he must have dreamed about it. At last Miss Bates tells them that last spring Mrs. Perry had mentioned it to her and Mrs. Cole, but that it was meant to be a secret. Miss Bates then turns to Jane and asks her if she remembers if she, Miss Bates, had told her of the carriage. Knightley watches to see Jane's reaction to Miss Bates' questions. He notices that she plays with her shawl, while Frank acts confused. Knightley grows more suspicious of a relationship between the two of them.

When everyone is seated inside Hartfield, Frank asks Emma to get the box of alphabets to play a game. Frank makes the word "blunder" and pushes it to Jane, who sits opposite him. Jane understands the word, but blushes and pushes it away. Harriet, with Knightley's help, solves the word. The observant and intelligent Knightley correctly connects it with Franks' blunder about Dr. Perry's carriage. The next word Frank makes is Dixon; he places it before Emma and then again pushes it to Jane. Knightley sees the word and notices that Jane is displeased with it. Realizing that she is being watched, Jane says that proper names are not allowed in the game. She pushes away the letters, refuses to play, and turns to her aunt, who immediately gets up to go.

When the others have gone, Knightley asks Emma why the word Dixon amused her while it distressed Jane. Emma says it is a joke among themselves. Knightley then tells Emma of his suspicions about a relationship between Jane and Frank; Emma dismisses his suspicions and ironically accuses him of indulging in romantic fancy. She tells Knightley that Frank and Jane are as far from admiration for each other as any two persons in the world can be. Emma's confidence surprises Knightley, who cannot believe that Emma is so blind to reality.

Notes

Emma is usually a good observer and a good judge of character, but her intellect fails to perceive the truth about Frank and Jane. Even after Knightley points out to her specific examples of intimacies between them, she accuses him of imagining the relationship. Knightley's sharp mind, however, sees through the double dealings of Frank, who is making Emma believe that he loves her while he carries on a secret affair with Jane. Frank's reference to Dr. Perry's carriage betrays him and puts Jane into an embarrassing position. She is further embarrassed by the words "blunder" and "Dixon" that are spelled out in the game of letters, which is similar to Elton's previous riddle. Jane grows so flustered that she refuses to continue playing.

Knightley obviously cares about Emma and wants to save her from being exploited by the double-dealing Frank. He is the first person to see through Frank's apparent gallantry and realize that he is all appearance rather than reality.

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