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Emma, Volume III, Chapter 18 (Chapter 54)



Sorry to be slap-dash about this chapter, but really, I just don't feel like going into great detail on it.

We start the chapter with news from London: Mr Knightley has learned that Robert Martin (whom he conveniently sent there on some business to his brother) has not only made up with but also proposed to Harriet Smith, who has accepted him. Which is funny, really, because it puts her exactly where she would have been all those months (and chapters) ago if Emma hadn't meddled with her, causing her oodles of unhappiness along the way. Only Harriet doesn't seem to mind that part, really, and she did get some benefit from mixing with Emma and the other gentlefolk in Highbury, so that was good. Right? Well, probably. Still - she's right where she would have been.

Emma is so overcome with glee that she hides her face from Mr Knightley for a while until she can calm herself down to a reasonable level of happiness. After all, she hasn't told him that Harriet had a crush on him, and she is trying to keep Harriet's secret. But given how clearly Mr Knightley seemed to perceive situations all along, doesn't it seem likely to you that he kind of figured out Harriet had a wee crush on him, even though that wasn't his intention and he didn't encourage it? And don't you think he sent Robert Martin to London in order to fix him back up with Harriet? I totally do, but I suppose we'll never know.

I do love this exchange, however, after she asks him if he's sure, or whether Mr Martin might have been discussing an ox instead of Harriet:

"Do you dare say this?" cried Mr. Knightley. "Do you dare to suppose me so great a blockhead, as not to know what a man is talking of?--What do you deserve?"

"Oh! I always deserve the best treatment, because I never put up with any other; and, therefore, you must give me a plain, direct answer. Are you quite sure that you understand the terms on which Mr. Martin and Harriet now are?" (Emphasis mine - don't you love it?)

Then Emma and her father go to Randalls, where they find Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax are also hanging out, and everyone has a little coze, and Frank Churchill apologizes, while showing himself still to be a bit of a cad. Or rather, to be as without shame as Lydia and Wickham were after their scandalous elopement in Pride and Prejudice.

And Emma goes home, smug in the knowledge that she has landed the better man.

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
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kellyrfineman
Apr. 17th, 2013 02:20 am (UTC)
It's the "are you sure he wasn't giving the measurements of a prize ox?" comment that slays me, really. And Mr Knightley's outrage, of course.

And yeah - I love Austen for that, too. Even good guys can behave badly, and the bad guys don't really get their come-uppance. Think of Willoughby, who doesn't really love his wife, but doesn't have a miserable life, either.
nottygypsy
Apr. 16th, 2013 07:05 pm (UTC)
At least Wickham had to live with Lydia. Frank will be much better off with Jane. He is happier than he deserves.
kellyrfineman
Apr. 17th, 2013 02:22 am (UTC)
Yes, but . . .

Family history says that Austen told her nieces and nephews about the lives of some characters after the end of the books, which I'll be getting to when I get to the final chapter of Emma, tomorrow. And according to Jane Austen, Jane Fairfax only lived a few years past her marriage . . . turns out she was a bit sickly after all.
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