Chapters 16-18 Summary

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Last Updated May 30, 2023.

Emma is feeling unhappy and bewildered. She cannot understand how she could have completely misinterpreted Mr. Elton's feelings. Unable to make sense of the situation, she accuses Mr. Elton of only pursuing her to improve his status. She goes to bed feeling certain that she has made a terrible mistake in her matchmaking endeavors.

Upon waking up on Christmas morning, Emma feels a sense of relief upon seeing that the ground is covered in snow. This means that she won't have to leave the house to face anyone, make excuses for Mr. Elton’s absence, or explain anything to Harriet.

On the day that John Knightley and Isabella depart for London, Mr. Woodhouse receives a letter from Mr. Elton informing her that he will be visiting Bath for three weeks. Emma shifts her focus to Harriet and admits to her that she had misread Mr. Elton's intentions entirely. Harriet becomes emotional and cries, but she does not hold anyone accountable as she is convinced that she does not deserve Mr. Elton's affections in the first place.

Emma is moved by Harriet's sorrow, takes her to Hartfield, and attempts to remove Mr. Elton from her thoughts. Meanwhile, a letter arrives informing Mrs. Weston that Frank Churchill's upcoming visit must be delayed because he is needed at home. Mrs. Weston is disappointed by this excuse. Emma shares with Mr. Knightley her suspicion that the Churchills are responsible for Frank's absence.

An altercation occurs between Emma and Mr. Knightley. Emma characterizes Frank Churchill as a charming young man who must delicately handle his family's expectations to be permitted to visit. On the other hand, Mr. Knightley portrays him as a feeble person evading his responsibilities. Emma concludes that Mr. Knightley's animosity towards Frank is only due to his contrasting personality.

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