Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Charles Strickland, a dull stockbroker, lives in England with his wife and two children. Mrs. Strickland is a model mother, but her husband seems bored with her and with his children. To everyone else, it is Strickland who seems commonplace. The family spends the summer at the seashore, and Strickland returns ahead of his wife. When she writes him that she is coming home, he answers from Paris, simply stating that he is not going to live with her anymore. With singleness of intention, Mrs. Strickland dispatches a friend to Paris to bring back her husband.
Strickland is living in a shabby hotel; his room is filthy, but he appears to be living alone. Much to the discomfort of the friend, he candidly admits his beastly treatment of his wife, but there is no emotion in his statements concerning her and her future welfare. When asked about the woman with whom he had allegedly run away, he laughs, explaining to Mrs. Strickland’s emissary that he had really run off to paint. He knows he can paint if he seriously tries. The situation is incredible to Mrs. Strickland’s friend. Strickland says he does not care what people think of him.
Stubbornly, Strickland begins to take art lessons. Although his teacher laughs at his work, he merely shrugs his shoulders and continues to paint in his own way. Back in England, the friend tries to explain to Mrs. Strickland the utter hopelessness of trying to reconcile her husband. She cannot realize her defeat at...
(The entire section is 1181 words.)
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