Chapters 12-15 Summary

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Last Updated May 30, 2023.

During a dinner with the family, Emma decides to reconcile with Mr. Knightley. She admits that they were both correct, and they spend a pleasant evening together. 

Mr. Woodhouse reprimands his daughter Isabella for taking her children to the wrong part of the seaside. He suggests that she should have consulted with Mr. Perry, his doctor, who knows the correct location where the air is healthier. John Knightley expresses his disapproval of Mr. Perry's advice, and Mr. Woodhouse finds comfort only in his daughters' consoling words.

A Christmas Eve dinner is scheduled at Randalls, and Harriet and Mr. Elton have been invited to join the Knightleys and Woodhouses. However, Harriet catches a cold, and Emma visits her and encounters Mr. Elton. Emma assumes he is there to check on Harriet's health, but he appears more interested in Emma herself. Emma attempts to convince him to stay home and take care of his health, but later, when Emma's brother-in-law offers Mr. Elton a ride to the party, he eagerly agrees.

John Knightley brings up his suspicion to Emma that Mr. Elton has developed romantic feelings for her. Emma vehemently denies this claim. During their ride to Randalls, John Knightley expresses his dissatisfaction with the weather, the company of the Westons, and the trouble of leaving Hartfield. When they meet up with Mr. Elton, he appears to have forgotten entirely about Harriet's illness. 

At dinner, Mr. Elton positions himself next to Emma and seeks her attention throughout the meal. Later, in the drawing room, Mr. Weston brings up the topic of Frank Churchill, speculating that he may visit soon. Mrs. Weston disagrees, believing that his aunt won't allow it. Emma finds it difficult to believe that a young man could be controlled by his family.

During tea, Mr. Elton takes a seat between Emma and Isabella and commends Emma's selflessness, making the conversation unbearable for her. John Knightley announces the possibility of snow, but it turns out to be only a few flakes. Nevertheless, Mr. Woodhouse is anxious to return home.

Emma and Mr. Elton are alone in a carriage when he seizes the chance to declare his love for her. Emma is taken aback and insulted, as she believes he must have feelings for Harriet. However, Mr. Elton is equally convinced that he has made it clear that his affection is directed solely toward Emma and that he has no romantic interest in Harriet. After confessing his feelings, Mr. Elton departs in a state of anger and silence.

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