Mr. John Knightley and Isabella depart from Hartfield, despite Mr. Woodhouse’s attempt to persuade “poor Isabella” to remain behind. The narrator reflects that “poor Isabella,” whose life revolves around doting on her family, is in fact a model of “right feminine happiness.”
Though Mr. Woodhouse’s projection of his own sadness at Isabella's having left him onto Isabella, who is happily married to a wealthy man, is comical, the humor also reflects the confines for women in Austen’s era—the luckiest of whose lives often revolved solely around husband and children.
Mr. Elton sends a very formal, cold letter to Mr. Woodhouse—completely ignoring any address to Emma—announcing his departure for several weeks to Bath. Grateful for his absence, Emma resolves to break the dreadful news to Harriet immediately, to give her as much time as possible to recover before he returns.
The complete change in Mr. Elton’s manner towards Emma reveals his resentment and lack of grace in the face of her rejection. It will later be contrasted by Mr. Martin’s gracious treatment of Harriet in spite of her rejection, once again raising the question of what comprises "class" and "manners."
Harriet responds with unaffected tears, and Emma admires her humility and grace in receiving the news. Harriet blames no one; she continues to believe Mr. Elton “all perfection” and Emma faultless.
In a reversal of her previous manner of thinking, Emma acknowledges Harriet’s superiority in responding to the mess that Emma has made.
Emma leaves feeling humbled, and she strives to find a better way to help her friend than matchmaking. She moves Harriet to Hartfield for the remainder of her emotional recovery and attempts to comfort and distract her from thoughts of Mr. Elton. Emma anticipates the awkwardness Harriet’s encounter with Mr. Elton upon his return, an inevitability in their confined social circles, and she attempts to prepare Harriet accordingly.
Emma demonstrates real disinterested kindness and remorse towards her friend. She knows, better than Harriet, Mr. Elton’s flaws and the unfolding social situation. She anticipates his coming coldness towards Harriet, and she attempts to prepare her friend for the pains of their next encounter with him.