Last Updated May 30, 2023.
Emma fosters Harriet's admiration for Mr. Elton. When he compliments Harriet's improved demeanor, Emma attributes it to Harriet's innate charms, claiming that she merely helped to bring them out. She suggests that Harriet pose for a portrait that she will paint, and she shares her portfolio with Mr. Elton and Harriet, who both give it high praise.
As Harriet poses for her portrait, Mr. Elton stands near Emma, observing each brushstroke with admiration. They decide that Mr. Elton will take the painting to London to have it framed, a task he eagerly accepts. Emma wonders if he is enthusiastic because of Harriet or herself, given how pleased he seems to be doing the task.
The day after, Harriet informs Emma that she has received a marriage proposal from Mr. Martin in a letter. Emma is impressed by the letter's style and message but rejects it outright. Harriet is confused and seeks Emma's advice on how to proceed. Emma advises her to decline the proposal if she has any doubts. Harriet convinced that Emma would not approve of her marrying Mr. Martin, reluctantly agrees to reject the proposal.
Although Emma claims she cannot counsel Harriet on how to decline Mr. Martin's proposal in writing, she essentially composes the entire letter. After sending the letter, Harriet feels dejected, prompting Emma to try to cheer her up by suggesting that Mr. Elton is undoubtedly displaying her portrait all over London.
During Harriet's absence, Mr. Knightley visits Emma and reveals that Mr. Martin intends to propose to Harriet. Emma informs him that Harriet has already rejected Mr. Martin's proposal. Mr. Knightley accuses Emma of influencing Harriet's decision, leading to an argument where Emma asserts that Harriet is too good for Mr. Martin. At the same time, Mr. Knightley insists that Mr. Martin is an excellent match for Harriet and an ideal husband.
Mr. Knightley also accuses Emma of encouraging Harriet to aspire to a class above her own, leading her to reject a suitable match in Mr. Martin. Emma denies any responsibility for Harriet's decision and declares that she will no longer meddle in matchmaking.
Later, Harriet informs Emma that Mr. Elton was seen on his way to London with a sense of excitement, leading to speculation that he may have a romantic interest in a young lady.