Chapters 6-8 Summary and Analysis
Emma encourages Harriet’s admiration of Mr. Elton. When he compliments Emma on Harriet’s improved manners, Emma points to Harriet’s natural charms, claiming that she had only to draw them out. She proposes Harriet sit for a portrait that she will paint and shows her portfolio, which Mr. Elton and Harriet view with unreserved praise.
While Harriet poses for her portrait, Mr. Elton hovers over Emma admiring every stroke. It is decided that in order to have it framed, Mr. Elton will take it to London—a commission he accepts with gusto. He is so pleased to be doing this chore that Emma questions his eagerness. Is it for Harriet or her?
The next day, Harriet tells Emma that Mr. Martin has sent her a proposal of marriage in a letter. Emma is impressed by its form and content, but puts it down firmly. Confused, Harriet asks her friend what to do. Emma tells her that if she has any doubts, she ought to refuse. Certain that Emma would disapprove of a match with Mr. Martin, Harriet reluctantly concedes.
Though Emma says she cannot advise Harriet on how to write a letter of refusal, she dictates nearly every sentence. Once the letter is sent, Harriet feels so low that Emma attempts to boost her spirits by suggesting that Mr. Elton is no doubt showing her portrait all around London.
Mr. Knightley pays a call during Harriet’s absence to announce that Mr. Martin has confided that he will propose to Harriet. When Emma tells him that she has already been asked and refused, Knightley accuses Emma of putting her up to it. An argument ensues wherein Emma declares Harriet superior to Mr. Martin, and Mr. Knightley is just as adamant that Martin is superior to Harriet and is the ideal husband.
He further accuses Emma of setting Harriet against her class by raising her expectations too high. Emma vows that it was Harriet’s choice...
(The entire section is 490 words.)