Summary Chapter 8
Harriet starts spending more time at Hartfield. She is given her own bedroom. Emma thinks it is best if she stays with them as much as possible.
Mr. Knightley praises Harriet’s beauty. Her nature wil ldepend on her influences, but overall she is a good woman. Emma has done a good job in molding a school girl.
Harriet has not returned when expected. Mr. Knightley says he expects that Robert Martin will propose to Harriet. He had asked Mr. Knightley’s advice on the matter. Mr. Knightley approves of how sensible Mr. Martin is. He had been concerned that Harriet’s new influences have put her in a different social class. Mr. Knightley approves of the match.
Emma reveals that Mr. Martin has already proposed—and Harriet refused him. Mr. Knightley is angry. Emma says that just because a man asks a woman to marry him doesn’t mean she has to accept. Knightley accuses Emma of persuading Harriet to refuse Mr. Martin. Emma is not ashamed of this. Mr. Martin is too beneath Harriet.
Mr. Knightley says that Harriet does not have anything that makes her superior to Robert Martin. Nobody knows her relations. She has no property. She is not educated. She is not useful or experienced. She is pretty and good tempered, and that is all she has going for her. Mr. Knightley felt Mr. Martin could do better personally. He felt the match was more to Harriet’s advantage.
Emma doesn’t want to lose her friend to an ignorant farmer she can’t associate with. Harriet’s father must be a gentleman since she has a liberal allowance.
Mr. Knightley points out that her parents did not plan to introduce Harriet into society since they gave her a bad education and left her in Mrs. Goddard’s care after its completion. Until she met Emma, Harriet had no ambitions for anything greater. She had been happy with the Martins. If she feels superior to them now, it is Emma’s doing. Harriet had encouraged Robert Martin’s attentions before.
Emma continues to defend Harriet, saying more respectable men will want Harriet. She thinks Harriet should fish a little longer.
Mr. Knightley believes Emma has made Harriet too vain. Sensible men do not want silly wives. They also wouldn’t connect themselves to a girl with unknown parentage. If Emma gives the girl too grand of ideas about her prospects, she will either never marry or marry anyone out of desperation.
Emma says that Harriet could not be pleased with Robert Martin after having been around gentlemen. Mr. Knightley continues to insist that Robert Martin is a sensible, sincere, amiable, and genteel man.
Emma feels she is in the right but wishes Mr. Knightley would go away. He doesn’t think Mr. Martin will be deprived if he doesn’t marry Harriet. He believes Emma’s plans to match Harriet with Mr. Elton will fail. Mr. Elton seeks a woman with a fortune. Emma denies that she is trying to match the two up. Mr. Knightley angrily leaves.
Emma fears Harriet was gone for so long because she had been intercepted by Mr. Martin. However, she returns with no indication this is the case.
Emma believes Mr. Knightley spoke out of resentment than in truth. She does not believe his claims about Mr. Elton. Love can overpower concerns about an income.
Harriet is pleased because Miss Nash claims Mr. Elton had given up a card game in order to do a commission for a young lady.