Emma worries about breaking the news to Mr. Woodhouse and Harriet. Emma decides that she will not marry until her father dies. She then informs Harriet about the situation via letter and arranges for her to stay with Isabella in London, to heal and ease the awkwardness.
Emma thoughtfully considers how to best behave towards her father and Harriet, both of whom have different reasons for disliking her engagement. She attempts to act as fairly and kindly as possible to each, marking her character.
Mrs. Weston forwards Frank’s letter explaining his behavior and secrecy, which was due to the restrictions of his Churchill relations. He used his courtship of Emma as a cover for his engagement, believing that she was never really interested in him; he also believed she suspected his secret. Jane, however, disapproved of his behavior to Emma, and they quarreled about it at Donwell Abbey. Frank felt Jane was coldly cautious and departed for Richmond.
Frank’s behavior, though perhaps not his intentions, is insensitive and blind; he interprets Emma’s heart and mind as is convenient to his own interests, even assuming that she is aware of his engagement. His dismissal of Jane’s feelings reveals his determination to do—and see—things his own way.
Jane then broke off the engagement by letter, but in the chaos of Mrs. Churchill’s death Frank misplaced his reply. Jane then returned all of his letters and requested hers to be returned to her new governess post. Realizing his blunder and the actions that Jane had taken, Frank begged for his uncle’s approval of the marriage. Having received it, he then dashed off to Highbury to reconcile with Jane, whom he acknowledges to be much worthier than him, and who has made him happier than he deserves.
Frank, blinded by his own careless confidence, does not see how deeply his behavior has wounded Jane and damaged their relations. When he finally realizes his mistakes, however, Frank demonstrates that he too is capable of taking responsibility and the necessary action to fix the problems he has made. Frank has a good heart, though perhaps a weak will.