In which way is the Box Hill episode (Vol III, chapter 7) relevant in Jane Austen's Emma ?
Why is the Box Hill episode so important? In which way is it relevant for the further development of the characters/story, especially regarding Emma?
The Box Hill episode in Emma is the turning point in the novel for several of the characters. There is a strong tension between what the party hope to achieve and what actually happens, indicated by Austen's language in the opening paragraph.
Austen indicates which characters have hope of redemption, through their subsequent actions. We see Mr and Mrs Elton as self-important, and Mr Weston as too indulgent of Emma and Frank's behaviour - these characters do not change.
Jane Fairfax finally finds her voice and challenges Frank, although in a veiled way, to end their secret engagement. This disappointed love, and subsequent reunion, echoes that of Emma and Mr Knightley. Emma and Frank's flirting also prompts jealousy in Mr Knightley.
It is Emma's rudeness to Miss Bates, and Mr Knightley's rebuke, that causes her to mature and realise her feelings for him. Austen suggests that Emma's cruelty to Miss Bates is more forgivable, than that of Frank to Jane, as it is done on impulse:
"Emma could not resist."