Emma is a delightful story of a wealthy, single young woman living on the English country side in the early nineteenth century. Emma Woodhouse has found herself with the a knack for match making, in fact Emma returned from the wedding of the Weston's (the bride was her former governess is one of Emma's dearest friends!) with much pride that she herself made the match and announced to her father and another dear friend, Mr. Knightly that she wouldn't be content until she used her talents once again and her subject was already in mind!
Mr. Elton (a clergyman) was introduced to Harriet Smith (a new comer) under the hopeful eye of Emma; Harriet's simple mind and Mr. Elton's ego was never questioned by Emma who felt the match as good as made but was very much by Mr. Knightly who portrays himself as a brotherly figure and tends to reprimand Emma whenever he should feel so, and on this occasion Mr. Knightly points out that Mr. Elton has higher hopes than the parentless Miss Smith, and that a farmer, Robert Martin who is in love with Harriet is better suited and Harriet thought so too! But Emma won’t have that, so when it was found that Mr. Martin proposed to Harriet it was quickly refused with the help of our dear Miss Woodhouse.
After months of hard work at a match almost made (at least to Emma) and even after Mr. Elton requested a portrait of Miss Smith be painted by Emma, and took great interest in its perfections, Mr. Elton proposed marriage to Emma after a long Christmas celebration (Harriet was unable to attend due an awful sore throat)! Emma of course refused and made every defense of her friend's honor; Mr. Elton crushed, condemned Miss Smith as a last resort for the hand of Emma but failing, left the carriage for his home.
The proposal was no surprise to Mrs. Weston, or Mr. Knightly but to Harriet who soon knew herself to be in love with Mr. Elton was devastated by Emma's news of the proposal made to her. And although there was much done to sooth the heart, Harriet couldn't find herself to be over the clergyman who after his embarrassment left for better company in Bath.
Christmas time wasn't all misery for Emma she was visited by her sister, her husband (Mr. Knightly's brother) and their child. And on the same night as the tragic proposal all were to learn of the intended arrival of Mr. Frank Churchill the son of Mr. Weston (through a previous marriage) who was taken in and raised by his aunt and uncle the Churchill’s. His visit only being prevented by Frank's sickly and controlling aunt. This was joyous news to all but one person Mr. Knightly who for his own reason resisted any joy.
Soon after Christmas came the arrival of Jane Fairfax the niece of Mrs. and Miss Bates very poor friends of the Woodlouse’s came to visit, Emma who has very little to say of Miss Fairfax, and it seems to Emma Miss Fairfax has nothing to say at all which is very frustrated to someone who must have all the details.
Soon after Jane’s arrival another has returned….
Mr. Elton has married a woman who is an excellent musician among many other things. Though a pleasing woman Emma can’t help prejudices get in the way of her liking the new Mrs. Elton. But either way in order to show none of this to her neighborhood Emma must have a dinner for her. The marriage is shocking to poor Harriet who is still somewhat in love with Mr. Elton, even though Harriet has been reacquainted with Robert Martin.
Nearly at a similar time as the Elton’s another visitor has arrived! Frank Churchill! And after a short time Emma believes herself in love with this man. Everyone else save Mr. Knightly is very taken with the charm of Frank as well as Emma. Mrs. Weston also tells Emma of a discovery of her own, she believes that Mr. Knightly has a secret relationship with Jane Fairfax and is very sure it is he who has sent Jane the mysterious gift of a piano, and though in Frank’s opinion it must be Mr. Dixon a friend of Jane’s family who recenrried.