The Golden Bowl Book 2, Chapters 4-5 Summary

Henry James

Book 2, Chapters 4-5 Summary

Although Mr. Verver speaks of the possibility of other ladies with marriage on their mind, he sees it as a fate to be avoided rather than welcomed. He does not believe he will ever remarry, but Maggie thinks the time is right because she has left him alone by her marriage to the Prince, even though she lives next door to her father. In the past, women have avoided Mr. Verver after seeing how close a relationship he had with his daughter following his wife’s death. It would be unthinkable to “break up” this family by introducing another woman into the mix.

Mrs. Rance is unacceptable, both by her present married state and by her personality. Mrs. Assingham has taken an interested in matchmaking, but it is only for her own entertainment instead of Mr. Verver’s happiness. Maggie suggests that her friend Charlotte Stant might be a possibility. Mr. Verver is nonplussed because he has seen her for so long as his daughter’s friend. Maggie tells him that Charlotte wants to be married but has failed to find anyone, which makes her a somewhat pathetic figure. She tells her father it would be a good idea for him to write to Charlotte and invite her for a visit. This would be more effective than if Maggie were to invite her. She gradually wins Mr. Verver over to the idea.

When Charlotte arrives at Fawns, Mrs. Rance and the Miss Lutches take their leave. Mrs. Assingham and her husband, the Colonel, also leave but return after a short time. Mrs. Assingham clearly sees that Charlotte is a prospective mate for Mr. Verver and encourages it. She says that Charlotte quickly saw what the situation was concerning Mr. Verver’s loneliness following Maggie’s marriage.

Over the weeks, Mr. Verver becomes very attached to Charlotte; he enjoys their talks and their strolls around the grounds. When the Prince and Maggie leave to go abroad for a month, the two of them are left in relative seclusion at Fawns. Their conversations become more personal and self-revelatory. Soon Mr. Verver decides he must propose marriage to Charlotte. It is becoming less a matter of seeking relief from his solitude after being abandoned by his daughter and more of a true affection for Charlotte as a woman. He decides that a proposal of marriage will make him happy, and Maggie will feel satisfied that she has had some measure of influence in easing her father’s loneliness.