Imagining Frank Churchill to be in love with her (this episode to some extent mirrors Elizabeth Bennet's interest in Wickham), Emma flirts with him - unbecoming behaviour in the circumstances.
When Elton proposes, Emma learns a first lesson from her mistakes. However, it does not result in more responsible behaviour. In a few moments, she is thinking about finding a successor to Mr. Elton in her plans for Harriet. Although her self-confidence has been shaken, she has not yet acknowledged herself capable of a moral error. Experiences of repentance and expiation are yet to come.
Emma writes her letter to Harriet as soon as she gets up in the morning. Frank takes his time to write his and comments that he has heard from Jane while he is still composing his own. As unpleasant as she feels her duty to be, Emma gets down to it as soon as she can. Frank puts it off for some time and it is easy to imagine him undertaking it reluctantly. At least three times he stops writing before he can continue.
Despite the heroine’s less pleasing characteristics, including snobbery, Emma has the redeeming feature that she will ultimately accept a truer understanding of events than her own, even when it is personally uncomfortable. When Mr. Knightley rebukes her for her behaviour towards Miss Bates, she does not take refuge in self-delusion; she does not protect her ego by reinventing the whole incident as a little drama in which she somehow comes out as the misunderstood heroine, as Mrs. Elton might have done. She accepts his picture of reality at once: not just because she defers to him but, crucially, because 'The truth of his representation there was no denying. She felt it at her heart'. So though in some ways Emma behaves like an overgrown kid, playing with Harriet like a doll, play-acting with Frank Churchill at being lovers, she also has an internal truth-monitor. She often tries to ignore it; but once it pulls her up sharp, she listens.