Emma

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Mr. George Knightley Character Analysis

The long-time friend and trusted confidante of the Woodhouses, Emma’s brother-in-law. Mr. Knightley is a true gentleman in lineage, estate, and virtue. He lives at Donwell Abbey, the spacious estate that he manages. He displays integrity and charity, as he constantly uses his resources—whether it is his position, his carriage, or his apples—to assist others. He is the only character who openly critiques Emma, demonstrating his dedication to her moral development. His judgment is well respected and, though not entirely biased by his self-interest, he nonetheless proves to be more discerning than many of the other characters in the novel.

Mr. George Knightley Quotes in Emma

The Emma quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. George Knightley or refer to Mr. George Knightley. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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Chapter 5 Quotes

I think [Harriet Smith] the very worst sort of companion that Emma could possibly have. She knows nothing herself, and looks upon Emma as knowing every thing. She is a flatterer in all her ways; and so much the worse, because undesigned. Her ignorance is hourly flattery. How can Emma imagine she has any thing to learn herself, while Harriet is presenting such a delightful inferiority? And as for Harriet, I will venture to say that she cannot gain by the acquaintance. Hartfield will only put her out of conceit with all the other places she belongs to. She will grow just refined enough to be uncomfortable with those among whom birth and circumstances have placed her home. I am much mistaken if Emma's doctrines give any strength of mind, or tend at all to make a girl adapt herself rationally to the varieties of her situation in life.—They only give a little polish.

Chapter 8 Quotes

Harriet's claims to marry well are not so contemptible as you represent them. She is not a clever girl, but she has better sense than you are aware of, and does not deserve to have her understanding spoken of so slightingly. Waving that point, however, and supposing her to be, as you describe her, only pretty and good-natured, let me tell you, that in the degree she possesses them, they are not trivial recommendations to the world in general . . . Her good-nature, too, is not so very slight a claim, comprehending, as it does, real, thorough sweetness of temper and manner, a very humble opinion of herself, and a great readiness to be pleased with other people. I am very much mistaken if your sex in general would not think such beauty, and such temper, the highest claims a woman could possess."

Related Characters: Emma Woodhouse (speaker), Mr. George Knightley, Harriet Smith
Chapter 18 Quotes

Depend upon it, Emma, a sensible man would find no difficulty in it. He would feel himself in the right; and the declaration—made, of course, as a man of sense would make it, in a proper manner—would do him more good, raise him higher, fix his interest stronger with the people he depended on, than all that a line of shifts and expedients can ever do. Respect would be added to affection. . . . Respect for right conduct is felt by every body. If he would act in this sort of manner, on principle, consistently, regularly, their little minds would bend to his.

Related Characters: Mr. George Knightley (speaker), Emma Woodhouse, Frank Churchill
Chapter 20 Quotes

Emma was sorry;—to have to pay civilities to a person she did not like through three long months!—to be always doing more than she wished, and less than she ought! Why she did not like Jane Fairfax might be a difficult question to answer; Mr. Knightley had once told her it was because she saw in her the really accomplished young woman, which she wanted to be thought herself; and though the accusation had been eagerly refuted at the time, there were moments of self-examination in which her conscience could not quite acquit her.

Chapter 25 Quotes

The Coles were very respectable in their way, but they ought to be taught that it was not for them to arrange the terms on which the superior families would visit them. This lesson, she very much feared, they would receive only from herself; she had little hope of Mr. Knightley, none of Mr. Weston.

Chapter 32 Quotes

"Insufferable woman!" was her immediate exclamation. "Worse than I had supposed. Absolutely insufferable! Knightley!—I could not have believed it. Knightley!—never seen him in her life before, and call him Knightley!—and discover that he is a gentleman! A little upstart, vulgar being, with her Mr. E., and her caro sposo, and her resources, and all her airs of pert pretension and under-bred finery. Actually to discover that Mr. Knightley is a gentleman! I doubt whether he will return the compliment, and discover her to be a lady. I could not have believed it! And to propose that she and I should unite to form a musical club! One would fancy we were bosom friends! And Mrs. Weston!—Astonished that the person who had brought me up should be a gentlewoman! Worse and worse. I never met with her equal. Much beyond my hopes. Harriet is disgraced by any comparison.”

Chapter 38 Quotes

In another moment a happier sight caught her;—Mr. Knightley leading Harriet to the set!—Never had she been more surprised, seldom more delighted, than at that instant. She was all pleasure and gratitude, both for Harriet and herself, and longed to be thanking him; and though too distant for speech, her countenance said much, as soon as she could catch his eye again.

Chapter 41 Quotes

The word was blunder; and as Harriet exultingly proclaimed it, there was a blush on Jane's cheek which gave it a meaning not otherwise ostensible. Mr. Knightley connected it with the dream; but how it could all be, was beyond his comprehension. How the delicacy, the discretion of his favourite could have been so lain asleep! He feared there must be some decided involvement. Disingenuousness and double dealing seemed to meet him at every turn. These letters were but the vehicle for gallantry and trick. It was a child's play, chosen to conceal a deeper game on Frank Churchill's part.

Related Symbols: Riddles and Word Games
Chapter 43 Quotes

Were she a woman of fortune, I would leave every harmless absurdity to take its chance, I would not quarrel with you for any liberties of manner. Were she your equal in situation—but, Emma, consider how far this is from being the case. She is poor; she has sunk from the comforts she was born to; and, if she live to old age, must probably sink more. Her situation should secure your compassion. It was badly done, indeed!—You, whom she had known from an infant, whom she had seen grow up from a period when her notice was an honour, to have you now, in thoughtless spirits, and the pride of the moment, laugh at her, humble her—and before her niece, too—and before others, many of whom (certainly some,) would be entirely guided by your treatment of her.

Related Characters: Mr. George Knightley (speaker), Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates
Chapter 47 Quotes

A few minutes were sufficient for making her acquainted with her own heart. A mind like hers, once opening to suspicion, made rapid progress; she touched, she admitted, she acknowledged the whole truth. Why was it so much worse that Harriet should be in love with Mr. Knightley than with Frank Churchill? Why was the evil so dreadfully increased by Harriet’s having some hope of a return? It darted through her with the speed of an arrow that Mr. Knightley must marry no one but herself!

With insufferable vanity had she believed herself in the secret of everybody's feelings; with unpardonable arrogance proposed to arrange everybody's destiny. She was proved to have been universally mistaken; and she had not quite done nothing—for she had done mischief. She had brought evil on Harriet, on herself, and she too much feared, on Mr. Knightley.—Were this most unequal of all connexions to take place, on her must rest all the reproach of having given it a beginning; for his attachment, she must believe to be produced only by a consciousness of Harriet's;—and even were this not the case, he would never have known Harriet at all but for her folly.

Chapter 49 Quotes

"I cannot make speeches, Emma:"—he soon resumed; and in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably convincing.—"If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am.—You hear nothing but truth from me.—I have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have borne it.—Bear with the truths I would tell you now, dearest Emma, as well as you have borne with them. The manner, perhaps, may have as little to recommend them. God knows, I have been a very indifferent lover.—But you understand me.

Related Characters: Emma Woodhouse, Mr. George Knightley

Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken; but where, as in this case, though the conduct is mistaken, the feelings are not, it may not be very material.—Mr. Knightley could not impute to Emma a more relenting heart than she possessed, or a heart more disposed to accept of his.

Related Characters: Emma Woodhouse, Mr. George Knightley
Chapter 54 Quotes

The joy, the gratitude, the exquisite delight of her sensations may be imagined. The sole grievance and alloy thus removed in the prospect of Harriet's welfare, she was really in danger of becoming too happy for security.—What had she to wish for? Nothing, but to grow more worthy of him, whose intentions and judgment had been ever so superior to her own. Nothing, but that the lessons of her past folly might teach her humility and circumspection in future.

Related Characters: Emma Woodhouse, Mr. George Knightley

High in the rank of her most serious and heartfelt felicities, was the reflection that all necessity of concealment from Mr. Knightley would soon be over. The disguise, equivocation, mystery, so hateful to her to practise, might soon be over. She could now look forward to giving him that full and perfect confidence which her disposition was most ready to welcome as a duty.

Related Characters: Emma Woodhouse, Mr. George Knightley
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Mr. George Knightley Character Timeline in Emma

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. George Knightley appears in Emma. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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Mr. Knightley , a longtime, close family friend and Emma’s brother-in-law (he is the older brother of... (full context)
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When Emma takes credit for making the match, Mr. Knightley gently scolds her role in the affair and insists that she bears no responsibility for... (full context)
Chapter 3
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...to large gatherings because of his nervous disposition. Among their inner circle are the Westons, Mr. Knightley , and Mr. Elton. Their second set includes the widow Mrs. Bates and her plain... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Mr. Knightley and Mrs. Weston discuss the friendship developing between Emma and Harriet. Mr. Knightley believes that... (full context)
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In the course of their conversation, Mr. Knightley also observes that Emma has been spoiled by being the cleverest in her family, as... (full context)
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Mrs. Weston and Mr. Knightley amiably agree to disagree on the subject of Emma and Harriet, and Mr. Knightley agrees... (full context)
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The two muse on what will become of Emma. Mr. Knightley believes that it will do Emma good to be in love, and “in some doubt... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...marks its process—as would be fitting, Emma notes, for Harriet’s admirer. When Mrs. Weston and Mr. Knightley suggest that Emma has made Harriet more beautiful in her portrait, Mr. Elton heatedly defends... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Harriet continues to spend more and more time at Hartfield with Emma. Mr. Knightley visits while Harriet is out, and he reveals that Mr. Martin asked for his advice... (full context)
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Emma, with some amusement, shares with Mr. Knightley that Harriet has already refused Mr. Martin. Mr. Knightley reacts with shock and displeasure, immediately... (full context)
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...gentleman; in addition, her good temper and looks are highly desirable female traits to men. Mr. Knightley points out Harriet has grown up in Mrs. Goddard’s inferior circle of society, and she... (full context)
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Mr. Knightley guesses that Emma has in mind a match between Harriet and Mr. Elton, and he... (full context)
Chapter 12
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Mr. Knightley finds Emma playing with her niece one evening during Isabella’s visit, and she attempts to... (full context)
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...Perry’s advice, and Mr. John Knightley loses his temper at the old man’s nervous interference. Mr. Knightley deftly changes the subject to less passionate matters, and Isabella and Emma gradually soothe away... (full context)
Chapter 18
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When, later, Emma rather disingenuously exclaims to Mr. Knightley about the Churchills’ fault for disappointing the Westons, Mr. Knightley voices her previous sentiment: a... (full context)
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Emma counters that Mr. Knightley has never known dependency and cannot judge it; others are restricted by their family obligations... (full context)
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...and to everyone’s taste. She concludes that they are both prejudiced, she for him, and Mr. Knightley against him. Mr. Knightley heatedly and unconvincingly denies any prejudice. Emma remains bewildered by Mr.... (full context)
Chapter 19
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...she dislikes visiting them because they are tedious and keep “second and third rate” company, Mr. Knightley and her own conscience have often suggested that she call on them more often, as... (full context)
Chapter 20
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...Jane’s coldness and reserve, Jane's aunt’s annoying chattiness, and the general fuss made over Jane. Mr. Knightley has suggested Emma dislikes Jane because Jane embodies all the accomplishment and elegance that Emma... (full context)
Chapter 21
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Mr. Knightley visits the next morning to congratulate Emma on her improvement in manner towards Jane, only... (full context)
Chapter 24
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...to become acquainted with all his father’s favorite neighborhood haunts, and when she later sees Mr. Knightley she informs him with a sense of triumph that Frank’s prior delays could not have... (full context)
Chapter 25
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...for him of being a suitable match for herself—though she still resolves to never marry. Mr. Knightley is the only person among their acquaintances who finds Frank trifling and silly. (full context)
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...an invitation finally arrives, Emma is tempted by the prospect that all of her friends— Mr. Knightley , the Westons, and Harriet—are attending. She asks the Westons for their advice and decides... (full context)
Chapter 26
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...returns with his haircut, lively and flippant about the experiences. Emma defends his behavior to Mr. Knightley , arguing that an exception should be made for silly things done by sensible people. (full context)
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Mr. Knightley arrives at the Coles by carriage, though he usually prefers walking. Emma approves of this... (full context)
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Mrs. Weston informs Emma that Mr. Knightley has come in his carriage so that he can assist Jane home. Mrs. Weston imagines... (full context)
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...resigns her place to Jane, whose talent she acknowledges to be superior. After several songs, Mr. Knightley prevents the company from tiring out Jane’s voice. Music is replaced by dancing, and Frank... (full context)
Chapter 27
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...Harriet to drop by as well. After much chattering about all manner of things including Mr. Knightley ’s gift of Jane’s favorite apples, Miss Bates leads them back to her humble abode. (full context)
Chapter 28
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Mr. Knightley stops by the house to ask after Jane’s health. Mrs. Weston gives Emma a knowing... (full context)
Chapter 30
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Plans for the ball are set. Emma finds Mr. Knightley ’s indifference towards it annoying, as he seems determined against enjoying himself there. Emma feels... (full context)
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...him.” With some sighing, Emma thinks how dull and tedious Hartfield will be without him. Mr. Knightley , however, seems cheerful about Frank’s departure—though he sympathizes with others’ disappointment. (full context)
Chapter 32
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...though they were already intimate friends, and she further provokes Emma by presumptively referring to Mr. Knightley as “Knightley.” Emma also finds Mrs. Elton’s offer to help her make social connections outrageous. (full context)
Chapter 33
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Mrs. Weston, Emma, and Mr. Knightley discuss Jane’s complaisance towards Mrs. Elton’s attentions. When Mr. Knightley warmly defends Jane’s judgment, Emma... (full context)
Chapter 34
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...turns to handwriting, and Emma’s handwriting is praised. Emma in turn praises Frank’s handwriting, but Mr. Knightley counters that it is weak and womanly. (full context)
Chapter 35
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...visit, to the delight of Mrs. Weston, the agitation of Emma, and the indifference of Mr. Knightley . (full context)
Chapter 36
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...Hartfield for a little while. He observes that Emma has become much more social, and Mr. Knightley proposes that he will take care of his brother's children instead. Emma objects that she... (full context)
Chapter 38
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...to make her think of marrying.” However, she anticipates a delightful evening; she only wishes Mr. Knightley would join in the dancing, too. (full context)
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...with no partner. Mr. Elton deliberately snubs her, gleefully refusing to ask her to dance. Mr. Knightley , however, saves the day and leads Harriet into the dance. His chivalry thwarts Mr.... (full context)
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Emma thanks Mr. Knightley warmly, and he observes that they intended to slight Emma as well. She confesses her... (full context)
Chapter 39
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Emma reflects with pleasure on the events of the ball: Mr. Knightley and her own shared understanding of the rude Eltons and the amiability of Harriet, Frank’s... (full context)
Chapter 41
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Mr. Knightley begins to suspect Frank of double dealing with Emma and Jane. He knows that Emma... (full context)
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...arrives at Hartfield, and Frank proposes a word game in which they unscramble alphabet tiles. Mr. Knightley seats himself near to observe. Jane unscrambles Frank’s puzzle, “blunder,” with a blush of consciousness.... (full context)
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Mr. Knightley stays behind to warn Emma, despite his concern that his interference with her affections for... (full context)
Chapter 42
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...a lame horse forces the postponement of the outing, and Mrs. Elton seizes instead on Mr. Knightley ’s passing invitation to explore his estate, Donwell Abbey. She eagerly begins to make the... (full context)
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...has found for her, and Jane finally removes herself by proposing a walk. Emma spots Mr. Knightley and Harriet in pleasant conversation leading the way. (full context)
Chapter 43
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...a great difficulty refraining from supplying only three. Miss Bates, hurt, blushes and murmurs to Mr. Knightley that she must be very annoying indeed or Emma would not have embarrassed her like... (full context)
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...characters. Frank playfully commissions Emma to choose a wife for him. Jane, Miss Bates, and Mr. Knightley also depart for a walk from the group. (full context)
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As the outing ends, Mr. Knightley quietly reprimands Emma for her insolent and insensitive behavior to Miss Bates. When she tries... (full context)
Chapter 45
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Emma returns home to find Mr. Knightley and Harriet visiting. Mr. Knightley is soon to visit the John Knightleys in London, and... (full context)
Chapter 47
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...Weston and is entirely unperturbed. Emma, surprised, soon discovers that Harriet’s interest has been in Mr. Knightley , not Frank, all along. Harriet informs Emma that but for her seeming encouragement, she... (full context)
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Emma is upset. And from this distress, Emma realizes that she herself is love with Mr. Knightley . Out of a sense of justice to Harriet, she represses her feelings and inquires... (full context)
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...been about everyone: Frank, Jane, Harriet, and herself. She realizes that she has always loved Mr. Knightley ; her love for Frank was a delusion. She regrets too her “insufferable vanity” in... (full context)
Chapter 48
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...his loss, Emma never knew how important it was for her to be first in Mr. Knightley ’s affection and regard. She realizes that she has taken his attentions for granted, which... (full context)
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Emma feels certain that she would be happy if only Mr. Knightley would remain single all his life, and they could preserve their special friendship. She resolves... (full context)
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...caused Jane considerable distress. As a gloomy evening sets in, she considers what a loss Mr. Knightley ’s marriage would cause to Hartfield. Her only consolation is in the hope that all... (full context)
Chapter 49
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Some time later, while Emma takes a reflective walk in the garden, she encounters Mr. Knightley , just returned from London. Concerned from his serious air that he wants to share... (full context)
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Mr. Knightley begins that he envies Frank, and Emma cuts him short to avoid hearing about Harriet.... (full context)
Chapter 51
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...The letter leaves her with a much-improved impression of him, and she shares it with Mr. Knightley . (full context)
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Mr. Knightley , too, softens upon reading Frank’s letter, though he still feels Frank’s flaws and his... (full context)
Chapter 53
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Mrs. Weston gives birth to a daughter, which Emma has been hoping for. She and Mr. Knightley discuss Emma’s own childhood and Mrs. Weston’s and Mr. Knightley’s roles in raising Emma. Emma... (full context)
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Mr. John Knightley congratulates the couple by letter; he anticipated Mr. Knightley ’s engagement from his behavior in London. Emma anxiously breaks the news of their engagement... (full context)
Chapter 54
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Mr. Knightley arrives with news that Harriet is to marry Mr. Martin. Emma is greatly surprised, given... (full context)
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...lively and flippant about the painful past, Jane amusedly rebukes him, and Emma reflects on Mr. Knightley ’s superiority to Frank. (full context)
Chapter 55
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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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)