Summary and Analysis Volume 3: Chapter VIII



As Emma spends the whole evening at backgammon with her father, she still feels wretched. Earlier than usual, she pays a visit to the Bateses the next morning, determined to make amends if possible. Wishing very much to give pleasure, she enters the house as Miss Bates and Jane seem to be escaping into the adjoining room. When Miss Bates returns, things are momentarily strained until Emma asks about Jane and Miss Bates becomes her old self, recounting in detail that Jane has accepted a situation as governess, that Mrs. Elton brought it about, and that Jane is to leave within a fortnight. It all came about the evening before at Mrs. Elton's: right before tea had come word that Frank had left for Richmond; shortly after tea Jane had agreed to accept the situation which Augusta had found. Emma is struck by the difference of importance between Mrs. Churchill and Jane Fairfax. She sits "musing on the difference of woman's destiny" as Miss Bates talks of the disposition of the pianoforte until Emma takes her leave.


Emma's success in mollifying Miss Bates demonstrates the goodwill and basic kind intentions of both women. As the reader will see, Jane's decision to take a job is vital to the working out of one major part of the plot; but it also works in the direction of Emma's growth in knowledge as she muses on woman's destiny.