Study Guide

Emma Chapter Forty-Three

By Jane Austen

Chapter Forty-Three

  • The next day, the exact same crew of people head up to Box Hill.
  • You could think of this party as a nightmare version of day 1 (we sure do).
  • It’s hot, nobody seems very excited about anything, and conversation sort of sucks.
  • They all sit down on a hill, and Emma decides to liven things up a bit.
  • She and Frank start flirting outrageously with each other. Sure, she knows that everybody else is listening – and that it’s ridiculously inappropriate – but she’s in a strangely elated mood.
  • Frank, too, seems strangely driven to wild moods.
  • He’s overly bright and far, far too attentive to Emma.
  • He asks everyone to share what they’re thinking with Emma.
  • No one takes them up on the offer.
  • The two propose a game: each of the party will say one very witty thing – or two sort of witty things – or three boring things. Emma will judge who wins.
  • Miss Bates laughs and observes that she won’t have to worry, then – at the very least, she can come up with three dull things.
  • Emma, high on her own energy, replies that Miss Bates’ problem will be limiting herself to only three boring things.
  • There’s a dreadful pause.
  • Miss Bates slowly figures out what Emma meant.
  • She’s very humble, so she just turns to Mr. Knightley and says that she must have been really boring for Emma to have said something so awful to an old friend.
  • Mr. Weston comes up with a clever pun on Emma’s name. The company laughs.
  • Mr. Knightley declares that if this is to be the focus of the game, he won’t participate.
  • In other words, he’s not too fond of an Emma love-fest.
  • Mrs. Elton throws a hissy-fit. For obvious reasons.
  • By and large, the party disintegrates unhappily.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Elton walk off. As they do, Frank makes a sarcastic remark about the "happy couple."
  • Jane gravely replies that a couple that meets too quickly often finds later that they’re not compatible.
  • Frank, more excited than ever, asks Emma to promise to select his wife.
  • That way, she’ll be perfect. Like Emma. Aww….
  • He declares that he’s leaving for Europe for a few years.
  • When he returns, he wants his wife to be waiting for him!
  • Emma laughs and agrees to find him a woman.
  • As they’re about to leave, Mr. Knightley pulls Emma aside.
  • He chastises her for speaking so cruelly to Miss Bates.
  • Although Emma is immediately ashamed and sorry, she pretends not to understand him.
  • Mr. Knightley explains why he’s so upset: Miss Bates is poor, and she’s seen her station in society sink as her money has dwindled.
  • She’s only ever been kind to Emma.
  • Being mean to Miss Bates, in other words, is sort of like kicking a hurt puppy – only the most uncaring person would ever think of it.
  • Deeply ashamed, Emma turns her face away – and so she misses the chance to tell Mr. Knightley how sorry she truly is.
  • The carriages roll away.
  • Emma cries all the way home.