Chapters 48-49 Summary

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Last Updated May 30, 2023.

SummaryEmma realizes that her happiness has always relied on Mr. Knightley's approval, especially now that she may lose him. She thinks about their family connection, their past visits, and arguments. However, her hopes of a future with him are uncertain because Harriet is in love with him, and Emma doesn't know if Mr. Knightley reciprocates Harriet's feelings or not. Emma believes Harriet has evidence of Mr. Knightley's affection, but Emma does not have such proof.

Emma hopes that Harriet is overestimating Mr. Knightley's attraction towards her. She considers that since she has promised her father never to get married, the only way she can find peace is if she finds out that Mr. Knightley wants to remain unmarried. Harriet's presence has become too difficult for Emma to handle, so she writes a letter to Harriet, requesting her not to visit Hartfield. Harriet accepts the request.

Mrs. Weston comes to visit Emma and shares that she recently visited Jane Fairfax, her future daughter-in-law. Jane expressed her deep regret for keeping her engagement a secret and apologized to Mrs. Weston. Mrs. Weston took Jane for a walk to talk more privately and learned that Jane had been very unhappy living with the deception.

Emma empathizes with Jane's unhappiness and worries that she may have played a part in it. Mrs. Weston shares that Jane often struggled with deception and that Emma had not been given a chance to show her kindness. Emma wishes the best for the engaged couple and realizes that although Frank may have more wealth, Jane has greater personal worth.

Mrs. Weston tries to defend Frank, but Emma's thoughts are preoccupied with Mr. Knightley being in London. Mrs. Weston departs, leaving Emma to reflect further on her past unjust behavior towards Jane Fairfax. Emma regrets not forming a closer relationship with Jane and becoming, at the very least, a friend who would not have wrongly accused Jane of having an inappropriate attachment to her brother-in-law.

At the end of the evening, Emma goes to her father's side. She feels uneasy as she realizes that in the upcoming months, Highbury would be deserted, and she would be left without any pleasant company or fun visits. She predicts that Frank, Jane, Harriet, Mr. Knightley, and Mr. and Mrs. Weston will be preoccupied with their own lives and will not have any interest in her. Emma decides to behave better in the future to restore some sense of stability.

When Mr. Knightley returns from London, Emma is unsure of his intentions and is worried he might ask for her permission to marry Harriet. She is cautious around him. However, Mr. Knightley surprises her by revealing that he knows about the secret engagement and offers her comfort by holding her arm and speaking kind words. Emma tells Mr. Knightley that she is not upset about Frank's engagement and confesses that she behaved badly towards Mr. Knightley in the past.

Emma confesses that she was initially pleased by Frank’s attention but eventually realized it was a ploy. She admits that while Frank may have deceived her, he did not harm her. She acknowledges that she was just a distraction, not the real target of his affection. Mr. Knightley praises Frank for finding someone as wonderful as Jane Fairfax and wishes him happiness. Then he admits to feeling envious of Frank.

Emma summons her courage to ask Mr. Knightley why he is envious. She is afraid that he will ask her if she thinks he should marry Harriet. But instead, Mr. Knightley confesses his love for Emma and asks for her response. Emma had been...

(This entire section contains 771 words.)

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worried that Mr. Knightley loved Harriet, but she was delighted to learn she was mistaken. She receives Mr. Knightley's declaration of love without revealing Harriet's feelings for him. Emma now realizes more than ever that it was an unequal match, to begin with, and acknowledges that she led Harriet into it. She admits to loving Mr. Knightley and asks him to explain why he chose to open up about his feelings at this time.

Mr. Knightley reveals to Emma that he did not plan to confess his love to her, but it happened unintentionally when he tried to comfort her over Frank's engagement. He explains that his jealousy towards Frank may have caused him to leave for London, but upon arriving, he was reminded of Emma by her sister and the happy home life in Brunswick Square. However, upon receiving the news of Jane and Frank's engagement, he rushed back to Highbury, and his true feelings for Emma came out naturally. They walk back to Hartfield together, arm in arm.


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