Emma

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Emma Chapter 55 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Harriet returns to Highbury, her behavior fully convincing Emma that Mr. Martin has replaced Mr. Knightley in her affections. Emma greets her with heartfelt congratulations. In the course of Harriet’s marriage preparations, she is discovered to have been the illegitimate daughter of a tradesman—an unsuitable match indeed for a gentleman. Emma attends Harriet and Mr. Martin's wedding in September with pleasure, though she feels that their friendship will necessarily and gradually diminish because of their different social stations.
Fueled by the revelation of Harriet’s lineage, Emma finally comes to approve the match of Harriet and Mr. Martin, rejoicing in their equality, her friend’s financial security, and Mr. Martin’s virtues. Sadly, Emma’s conviction that their intimacy must diminish given the change in her friend’s social circles reveals she still holds to her prioritization of social class.
Themes
Social Class Theme Icon
Marriage Theme Icon
Gender Limitations Theme Icon
Pride and Vanity Theme Icon
Jane returns to the Campbells, where she and Frank wait for three months to pass after Mrs. Churchill’s death before their wedding in November. Emma and Mr. Knightley hope to marry in October. Mr. Woodhouse’s misery threaten these prospects, but when Mrs. Weston’s poultry-house is robbed, he comes to welcome the idea of Mr. Knightley in their house as a very good protection. Emma and Mr. Knightley’s wedding is absent of finery and parade, to the disdain of Mrs. Elton, but all of their intimate friends witness it with great confidence as to the union’s lasting happiness.
Though Jane and Frank are engaged to marry despite some disparity in social situation, the novel devotes the final chapter to the marriages of Harriet and Mr. Martin, and Emma and Mr. Knightley—two matches of equal standing. By focusing on those two marriages at the end of all the messy misperception and blundering, the novel’s moral regarding marriages seems to mirror Emma's own feelings and conservatively advocate openness and equality (in both character and class) as the key to a good match.
Themes
Social Class Theme Icon
Marriage Theme Icon
Gender Limitations Theme Icon
Pride and Vanity Theme Icon