was vexed beyond what could have been expressed—almost beyond what
she could conceal. Never had she felt so agitated, so mortified,
grieved, at any circumstance in her life. She was most forcibly
struck. The truth of his representation there was no denying. She
felt it at her heart. How could she have been so brutal, so cruel
to Miss Bates! How could she have exposed herself to such ill opinion
in any one she valued! And how suffer him to leave her without saying
one word of gratitude, of concurrence, of common kindness!
This quotation comes at the end of Chapter 43.
After being reprimanded by Mr. Knightley for insulting Miss Bates
at the Box Hill picnic, a deluge of remorse comes over Emma as she
realizes the cruelty of her behavior. This quotation marks the point
at which Emma’s growing self-understanding, which helps her feel
how wrongly she has treated Miss Bates, coincides with her growing attachment
to Knightley. Her increasing self-knowledge is thus weighted, because
it will bring her to or separate her from true love. This moment
is also Emma’s most emotional in the novel, and it is narrated directly,
unlike Mr. Elton’s proposal and Emma’s response to Mr. Knightley’s
proposal. That the narrative so directly accesses Emma’s remorse
underscores its seriousness—it is as if her thoughts have overpowered
the narrator’s ability to relate them.