Emma’s attention is taken up by Mr. John Knightley and Isabella’s visit to Hartfield. Isabella is an affectionate and obedient wife, who takes after her father’s nervous disposition. Mr. John Knightley is respectable and gentlemanly, but reserved and often impatient with Mr. Woodhouse and his daughter’s sensitivity.
Mr. John Knightley is spoiled by Isabella’s adoration, resulting in an inequality in their temperament within their marital dynamic: Emma finds Mr. John Knightley lacking in respect for her father, Isabella, and their children.
Isabella commiserates with Mr. Woodhouse’s grief over Mrs. Weston’s departure. Emma and Mr. John Knightley gently moderate their dramatization of the situation with reminders that Mrs. Weston visits frequently and is happily married.
Isabella takes after her father’s weak nerves, supporting Mr. Knightley’s point that Emma is partially spoiled by her superior sense and intellect in comparison to the rest of her family.
Mr. John Knightley asks after Frank Churchill, and Emma replies that the expectation of his visit has ended in nothing. Frank’s letter is praised again, and Mr. John Knightley and Isabella speculate about the relationship between Mr. Weston and his son.
Rumor plays a great role in reputation, as we are first introduced to characters like Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill by others’ perceptions—and misperceptions—of them.