We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.



by Jane Austen

Emma Chapter Nine Summary

  • Emma’s plans to make Harriet smarter flop – but they do manage to make lots and lots of self-help lists!
  • Instead of reading the classics, the two decide to make a riddle-book. OK, OK, it sounds geeky – but it was pretty hot in the nineteenth century. Think of it as a mix CD – or an iPod "Greatest Hits" list.
  • They spend several days collecting riddles from everyone they know.
  • Emma coyly asks Mr. Elton to contribute a riddle to Harriet’s book.
  • Mr. Elton declines – but shows up the next morning with a riddle written by "a friend." We’ve heard that one before.
  • The answer to Mr. Elton’s riddle is "courtship." That’s a really old word for dating.
  • Of course, Emma has to explain this to Harriet. Of course. After she catches on, however, Harriet’s pretty excited.
  • Emma convinces Harriet to write the riddle in her book (omitting the scandalously personal last few lines, of course). Emma herself writes the riddle into the book.
  • Mr. Woodhouse brings news that Emma’s sister, Isabella, and her husband, Mr. John Knightley, are coming to Hartfield for a visit.
  • He’s convinced that his poor, poor daughter (who has been stolen away by Mr. John Knightley) will be delighted to be back at home.
  • He also remembers one riddle.
  • OK, he doesn’t remember all of it. But there’s this one line that stays in his mind about "Kitty, a fair but frozen maid…"
  • Emma gently tells him that she’s already found that riddle in a book of famous quotations.
  • As we might have mentioned, Mr. Woodhouse isn’t the most original of men.
  • Mr. Elton comes to visit Hartfield and seems confused by Emma’s references to Harriet and her riddle collection. The plot thickens…

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...