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Emma Woodhouse’s friend has just left Hartfield, the Woodhouse estate, to marry Mr. Weston. At a party, Emma meets Harriet and resolves to pursue friendship with her and to introduce her to high society.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 1–3
Emma takes it upon herself to find Harriet an appropriate match, detracting her from cultivating feelings for Mr. Martin, whom Emma believes is below Harriet’s status. Emma hopes to connect Harriet with Mr. Elton.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 4–6
Harriet receives a marriage proposal from Mr. Martin, but Emma tells her to refuse. Mr. Knightley and Emma argue over Harriet’s marriage prospects. Emma becomes further convinced of Mr. Elton’s feelings for Harriet.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 7–9
Harriet and Emma stumble upon Mr. Elton, and though Emma attempts to leave them alone to get to know each other better, Mr. Elton shows little interest in Harriet.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 10–12
As Mr. Elton gives Emma more attention, she becomes concerned about Mr. Knightley’s suggestion that Mr. Elton is interested in her and not Harriet. The news that Frank Churchill is due to visit soon distracts Emma, as she views him as a potential suitor. Later, Emma finds herself in a carriage with Mr. Elton, who professes his love for her, only for Emma to shut down his proposal.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 13–15
Emma visits Harriet, explains what happened, and moves Harriet to Hartfield in an attempt to comfort her. When Frank does not make his expected visit, Emma and Mr. Knightley engage in a heated discussion about their opposing views regarding Frank and his character.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 16–18
Emma has mixed feelings about Jane Fairfax, and she learns that Mr. Elton is to marry someone else. Harriet shares that she has run into Mr. Martin in town, leaving Emma wondering if she judged him too harshly.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 19–21
Gossip surrounding Mr. Elton’s fiancée circulates. Harriet unexpectedly meets Frank at Hartfield and the two hit it off. When Frank visits Hartfield the next day, Emma is surprised by how taken she is to him.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 22–24
Emma attends a party, where it is revealed that Jane has received a mysterious gift from an unknown suitor. Mrs. Weston tells Emma that Mr. Knightley intends to take Jane home in his carriage later that evening. After speaking with Mr. Knightley, Emma is convinced that he did not send Jane the gift.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 25–27
Frank and Emma successfully plan a ball, and Frank promises Emma the first dances. When Emma learns that Mr. Knightley does not want to attend the ball, Emma takes it as proof that he is not interested in Jane. When Frank is called to take care of his sick aunt, the ball is postponed indefinitely, and a sad Emma concludes that she must have real feelings for Frank after all.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 28–30
Emma fantasizes about her romance with Frank. When the newlywed Mr. and Mrs. Elton come to Hartfield, Emma is horrified by Mrs. Elton’s attitude and begins to dislike her, especially after Mrs. Elton takes on Jane as her project.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 31–33
Emma throws a party that Jane attends, and she is intrigued when the subject of Jane fetching her own letters come up.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 34–36
When the day of the long-postponed ball arrives, Frank reveals to Emma that he dislikes Mrs. Elton. The ball ends up being a success. Emma is pleased when Mr. Knightley asks Harriet to dance, and when Emma and Mr. Knightley dance, they find a mutual understanding with one another. Frank appears with Harriet, who faints. After coming back to her senses, Harriet tells the story of how Frank saved her from Gypsies.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 37–39
Harriet visits Emma and reveals that she is no longer infatuated with Mr. Elton. When Emma asks Harriet if she has feelings for someone of a higher social class, Harriet says yes. Mr. Knightley suspects there is something going on between Frank and Jane. Knightley tells Emma of his suspicions regarding Jane and Frank, but Emma shuts him down.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 40–42
Emma learns that Jane has accepted a governess position and that Frank has departed. When Emma returns to Hartfield, Mr. Knightley and Harriet are present, and Knightley announces that he will be traveling to London.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 43–45
Emma is shocked to learn that Frank and Jane have been secretly engaged, and though Emma says the engagement has not caused her any pain, Emma worries about Harriet. However, she learns that Harriet has already heard the news and confesses to having feelings for Mr. Knightley. Emma herself discovers that she is in love with Mr. Knightley.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 46–48
Mr. Knightley joins Emma for a walk, and though Emma is tense, believing that he will reveal his love for Harriet, Mr. Knightley instead confesses his love for Emma. By the time they return, the two are engaged. Emma worries about Harriet and her father and decides that she and Knightley must postpone their wedding until after her father dies. Mr. Knightley agrees to move to Hartfield.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 49–51
Emma reconciles with Jane and Frank. Emma is elated to learn that Harriet is to marry Mr. Martin and pleased to see that Harriet has recovered from her infatuation with Knightley, though because of their different social positions, Emma realizes that their friendship must change. All the couples marry.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 52–55