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Emma | Study Guide

Jane Austen

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Emma | Chapters 51–52 (Volume 3, Chapters 15–16) | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 51

Emma forgives Frank his misdemeanors because she is so happy. She shares Frank's letter with Mr. Knightley, who is not overly impressed with it. He exclaims to her, "My Emma, does not every thing serve to prove more and more the beauty of truth and sincerity in all our dealings with each other?" After reading the letter, Mr. Knightley tells her he has been thinking about Mr. Woodhouse and thinks the best course of action is for him to move into Hartfield and live there with Emma and her father after they marry. Emma is moved by Mr. Knightley's sacrifice and says they should both think about it, but he is sure of his decision.

Chapter 52

Harriet responds to Emma with a civil but not overly friendly letter. Emma thinks that "an angel only could have been quite without resentment under such a stroke." Because Harriet needs to see a dentist, Emma arranges for a London visit for her friend, where she will stay with Emma's sister, Isabella. Emma pays a visit to the Bates women and Jane. Both engagements are still secret, and Jane does not know about Emma's. Emma wants to wait to announce her engagement until after Mrs. Weston, who is pregnant, gives birth. Mrs. Elton, however, seems to be aware of Jane's engagement. Jane and Emma are able to exchange some mutual words of apology and part as friends.

Analysis

The joy of couples in love is conveyed in these chapters, in which Emma easily forgives Frank because she is so happy, and even Mr. Knightley can be charitable toward the man he views as an incorrigible coxcomb. Emma and Jane are able to apologize and part as friends. Now that both women have reached the pinnacle of happiness, they can be on equal footing, unlike Emma and Harriet.

Mrs. Elton continues to provide comic relief. She is upset that Mr. Knightley has kept Mr. Elton waiting and says, "I cannot imagine how he could do such a thing by you, of all people in the world! The very last person whom one should expect to be forgotten!" Mrs. Elton may actually be in love with her husband, and she cannot imagine someone slighting her "lord and master," as she calls him.

Mr. Knightley wants to be with Emma as his wife, and so he is willing to move into her home so that her fussy father will not be inconvenienced by her departure as a bride. This is as good as love gets in the Regency era. Austen shows the relationship between Emma and Mr. Knightley as one in which there will be equal give-and-take.

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