Emma Study Guide

Emma By Jane Austen

Emma Woodhouse lives on an estate in Surrey with her father, a hypochonriac. Her only friend is George Knightley, her neighbor and her sister Isabella's husbands' brother. Emma has decided that she likes matchmaking after attending a wedding which she believes she instigated.

Against George's advice, Emma tries to match a new acquaintance, Harriet Smith, to the local vicar, Mr. Elton, but only after convincing Harriet to turn down an existing perfectly decent marriage proposal from a farmer. Harriet turns the farmer down, but Mr. Elton proposes to Emma rather than the lowborn Harriet, and Harriet is heartbroken.

Frank Churchill arrives in the neighborhood, and Mr. Elton takes a sojourn and returns with a rich but vulgar wife who takes a dislike to Emma right off. Emma's other neighbor, Miss Bates, is joined by her beautiful but quiet niece Jane Fairfax, who is talented enough with music that she earns Emma's jealousy. Emma tries to fall in love with Frank because everyone says they would make a handsome couple, but fails, though the two show public affection for one another.

When Emma insults Miss Bates, George scolds her, and she goes to Miss Bates and tries to atone. George is impressed, and starts to develop affections for Emma. Meanwhile, Jane refuses to see Emma or accept her gifts, and suddenly accepts an offer to be a governess from a friend of Mrs. Elton's.

Emma shortly learns the truth: Jane and Frank have been engaged for almost a year. Frank had been faking it with Emma to disguise his relationship with Jane. Jane's distress was about a fight she had had with Frank over his treatment of Emma. Shortly after, their engagement becomes public.

When Harriet shares that she thinks George is falling in love with her, Emma's jealousy forces her to admit that she loves him herself. George is all for it; once Jane and Frank reveal their engagement, George proposes to Emma. Harriet finally reconciles with the farmer, everyone gets married and lives happily ever after.

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