The Golden Bowl Book 3, Chapters 7-8 Summary

Henry James

Book 3, Chapters 7-8 Summary

Charlotte and the Prince attend a concert with the Assinghams, and the couples discuss an approaching event at Matcham over the Easter holidays. They all expect that neither Maggie nor Mr. Verver will be attending the occasion. Mrs. Assingham asks if Charlotte and the Prince will go if their spouses do not, and the young people insist that they will still be at Matcham. The Prince has become attached to, but not passionate about, the English social scene and generally makes a dominant presence at these occasions. He enjoys it, but he is never quite satisfied with the results. The Prince tells Mrs. Assingham that he understands that his presence or absence at Matcham makes a difference as to whether the Assinghams will feel comfortable going (because the Assinghams are only marginally included in this level of society).

In the end, the four of them do go to Matcham to enjoy the rigorous English country life of riding, hunting, and dancing. The other guests think it peculiar that the Prince and his step-mother-in-law are there without their spouses, but the couple manages to keep up the appearance of propriety. Maggie, who has no imagination, never questions the frequency of the times in which her husband and her father’s wife attend public occasions as a couple. The intimacy between Charlotte and the Prince Amerigo continues to grow.

As the Easter holiday comes to an end and the guests prepare to return home, the Assinghams, the Prince, and Charlotte discuss their travelling arrangements. Charlotte and Amerigo discuss that, because Mrs. Assingham arranged Maggie’s marriage and has implied acceptance of the relationship between Charlotte and the Prince, they are relatively safe from being betrayed by the older woman. Bringing them down would put an end to her own social reputation as well.

Mrs. Assingham suggests that the four of them travel back to London in the same railroad compartment. Amerigo, however, sees this as unwise. Charlotte announces that she will remain behind to have lunch with the Matcham hostess, and the Prince will stay to provide her with a safe escort home. Mrs. Assingham agrees and promises to go back to London and immediately report this plan to Maggie and Mr. Verver, giving them a sense of propriety and innocence. Mrs. Assingham wishes them a pleasant day, and Amerigo laughingly tells her that they shall do their best.