Frank and Mrs. Weston visit Hartfield again the next day, and Emma is pleased to observe his cordiality and attention to his stepmother. She also approves of his desire 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 been voluntary.
Emma carefully observes Frank, and the importance she places on his treatment of his stepmother and her friend reveals both her loyalty and good sense.
Mrs. Weston and Emma introduce Frank to the town. When they arrive at the Crown Inn, Frank comes up with the idea that they should host a ball there. Emma protests against the mixing of families from such various ranks, but the lively Frank insists that such a gathering will be delightful. Emma notes with some surprise his lack of pride despite his privileged upbringing with the Churchills.
Frank exhibits less of the snobbery that we witness in Emma, as he has none of her qualms regarding the mixing of the classes in the merriment of a ball. On the other hand, his disregard for rank in this case may also be interpreted as the priority he places in pleasure over principle.
Frank discusses his visit with the Bateses, where he encountered the inescapably chatty Miss Bates. When Emma asks about his impression of Jane, Frank expresses distaste for her pale complexion. Emma learns that Frank saw much of Jane in Weymouth, as the two traveled in the same social set. When Emma shares her admiration of Jane’s musical talent, Frank acknowledges that their general company at Weymouth—including Mr. Dixon—also thought highly of her musical abilities.
Frank’s open, humorous report of Miss Bates’s chattiness parallels Emma’s own light-hearted remarks about the gossipy spinster. His ready distaste for Jane’s complexion, however, is borderline rude, as even he acknowledges one cannot politely label a lady “ill-looking.” He appears to share Emma’s mixture of indifference and dislike towards Jane.
Emma laughingly probes into Mrs. Dixon’s feelings about her husband’s musical preference, hinting that Jane herself must have felt such favor to be inappropriate from a man engaged to be married. Frank at first resists Emma’s insinuations, but then accedes to her greater knowledge of Jane.
Despite his impression that there is nothing indecorous between Jane and Mr. Dixon, he seems reluctant to contradict and eager to humor Emma, whose superior judgment he submits to.
Emma admits that she has never been close to Jane because of the latter’s reserve; she has no reason to think poorly of Jane, but she has never been motivated to persevere over Jane’s reserve and establish intimacy. Frank agreeably affirms the unattractiveness of reserved persons.
Emma’s manner of talking about Jane reveals pride and privilege in her wealth of social acquaintances that she has never had to “persevere” to attain.
In spite of the brevity of their acquaintance, Emma feels that she knows Frank very well and that they think alike. In addition, Frank surpasses her expectations by being less spoiled and snobbish than Emma imagined a child of fortune would be. Frank expresses contentment at Mr. Elton’s moderately sized house, which he believes could be comfortably shared by any man if it were with the woman he loved.
Frank’s lively and agreeable manner—which is much like Emma’s own disposition—combined with his general affirmation of her various opinions lead her to feel an intimacy and understanding of him disproportionate to the time they have spent together. Emma still tends to approve most of those people who agree with her.