Mr. Knightley arrives with news that Harriet is to marry Mr. Martin. Emma is greatly surprised, given her own knowledge of Harriet’s previous feelings, but she is delighted for her friend. Freed from her concern for Harriet’s happiness and the need for secrecy with Mr. Knightley, Emma feels that her only wish now is to learn from her previous mistakes and grow more worthy of Mr. Knightley, “whose intentions and judgment had been ever so superior to her own.”
Harriet’s decision to finally accept Mr. Martin without consulting Emma shows that Harriet has also grown during the course of the novel. She has learned to heal and seek her own happiness independent of Emma’s advice. Emma, aware of her wrongs to Harriet, is left with the hope that she too will continue to grow from her errors.
At Randalls, Emma and Frank finally get the opportunity to talk over the recent events. After some initial awkwardness, they congratulate each other and re-establish their former warmth and good will. They both feel they have been luckier than they deserved in their respective matches. When Frank is lively and flippant about the painful past, Jane amusedly rebukes him, and Emma reflects on Mr. Knightley’s superiority to Frank.
Frank’s lively and light manner may be explained by his happiness in love, but it cannot be completely approved of by Jane or Emma. Emma shares similar flaws with Frank, but her sympathies lie with Jane regarding Frank’s behavior. Frank is a bit too unserious, a bit too flippant, a bit too willing to joke away serious matters, to ever truly be an equal to someone like Mr. Knightley.