Mrs. Elton says,
"A line from me would bring you a little host of acquaintance; and my particular friend, Mrs. Partridge, the lady I have always resided with when in Bath, would be most happy to shew you any attentions, and would be the very person for you to go into public with."
It was as much as Emma could bear, without being impolite. The idea of her being indebted to Mrs. Elton for what was called an introduction—of her going into public under the auspices of a friend of Mrs. Elton's—probably some vulgar, dashing widow, who, with the help of a boarder, just made a shift to live!—The dignity of Miss Woodhouse, of Hartfield, was sunk indeed!
She restrained herself, however, from any of the reproofs she could have given, and only thanked Mrs. Elton coolly; "but their going to Bath was quite out of the question; and she was not perfectly convinced that the place might suit her better than her father." And then, to prevent farther outrage and indignation, changed the subject directly.
"I do not ask whether you are musical, Mrs. Elton. Upon these occasions, a lady's character generally precedes her; and Highbury has long known that you are a superior performer."
Emma, Jane Austen 1815, page 280.
...and when she considered how peculiarly unlucky poor Mr. Elton was in being in the same room at once with the woman he had just married, the woman he had wanted to marry, and the woman whom he had been expected to marry, she must allow him to have the right to look as little wise, and to be as much affectedly, and as little really easy as could be.
Emma, Jane Austen 1815, pages 275
Thinking of Mr. Elton,
During his present short stay, Emma had barely seen him; but just enough to feel that the first meeting was over, and to give her the impression of his not being improved by the mixture of pique and pretension, now spread over his air. She was, in fact, beginning very much to wonder that she had ever thought him pleasing at all; and his sight was so inseparably connected with some very disagreeable feelings, that, except in a moral light, as a penance, a lesson, a source of profitable humiliation to her own mind, she would have been thankful to be assured of never seeing him again. She wished him very well; but he gave her pain, and his welfare twenty miles off would administer most satisfaction.
The pain of his continued residence in Highbury, however, must certainly be lessened by his marriage. Many vain solicitudes would be prevented—many awkwardnesses smoothed by it. A Mrs. Elton would be an excuse for any change of intercourse; former intimacy might sink without remark. It would be almost beginning their life of civility again.
Emma, Jane Austen 1815, page 185.
In Chapter XV Mr. Elton discloses to Emma Woodhouse that he loves her and not Harriet Smith despite Emma's efforts of matchmaking to pair and marry Harriet and Mr. Elton. Emma is angered by his disclosure. She does not notice her own connivery in making Harriet refuse an offer of marriage by Mr. Martin—an uneducated farmer—whom Emma thought not-the-equal of Harriet (in reality—but ironically—Emma would dread receiving the couple because of her required condescension to Mr. Martin) but in whom the pretty but dull-witted Harriet was interested.
There is much critical talk of Jane Austen's irony in the secondary readings and that is in evidence here regarding Emma's ignorance of the sorrow caused to Mr. Martin; furthermore Jane Austen said in Emma that 'she would have a heroine that was unliked by all but herself'—many people find Emma ironic because of her ways of selfish thinking and being.
The hair was curled, and the maid sent away, and Emma sat down to think and be miserable.—It was a wretched business indeed!—Such an overthrow of every thing she had been wishing for!—Such a development of every thing most unwelcome!—Such a blow for Harriet!—that was the worst of all. Every part of it brought pain and humiliation, of some sort or other; but, compared with the evil to Harriet, all was light; and she would gladly have submitted to feel yet more mistaken—more in error—more disgraced by mis-judgment, than she actually was, could the effects of her blunders have been confined to herself.
"If I had not persuaded Harriet into liking the man, I could have borne any thing. He might have doubled his presumption to me—but poor Harriet!"
How she could have been so deceived!—He protested that he had never thought seriously of Harriet—never!
It was dreadfully mortifying; but Mr. Elton was proving himself, in many respects, the very reverse of what she had meant and believed him; proud, assuming, conceited; very full of his own claims, and little concerned about the feelings of others.
Emma Jane Austen 1815, pages 134 and 135
Neil Wenborn from his Jane Austen: Emma, 2008.
As in the novel as a whole, direct narrational address is radically subordinated to direct and free indirect speech.
In the paragraph below we have Jane Austen telling us about Emma in a third person omniscient narration, but in the first sentence of the paragraph that follows we have another type of narration: free indirect speech that describes Emma's feelings from her point of view and not from the author's view of them. After that sentence Jane Austen continues with third person omniscient narration.
Arguably, no author used free indirect speech before Jane Austen did. There are harmonies to her prose—a music of narration—the sonata form in it's theme and variation.
The real evils, indeed, of Emma's situation were the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself; these were the disadvantages which threatened alloy to her many enjoyments. The danger, however, was at present so unperceived, that they did not by any means rank as misfortunes with her.
Sorrow came—a gentle sorrow—but not at all in the shape of any disagreeable consciousness.—Miss Taylor married. It was Miss Taylor's loss which first brought grief. It was on the wedding-day of this beloved friend that Emma first sat in mournful thought of any continuance. The wedding over, and the bride-people gone, her father and herself were left to dine together, with no prospect of a third to cheer a long evening. Her father composed himself to sleep after dinner, as usual, and she had then only to sit and think of what she had lost.
Emma, Jane Austen 1815, page 1, (my emphasis).