The Golden Bowl Book 4, Chapters 7-8 Summary

Henry James

Book 4, Chapters 7-8 Summary

The Assinghams accept the invitation to pay an extended visit at Fawns beginning in mid-July. Fanny warns the Colonel that they will have to lie to Maggie, as she did when she told Maggie she did not believe there was anything going on between Charlotte and Amerigo. They will also have to lie to the others about believing in everyone’s best intentions. The Colonel is astonished that his wife sees lying to Maggie as being loyal to her. Fanny replies that she is loyal to Maggie in helping her with her father, which necessitates lying about Charlotte’s involvement with Amerigo. If Fanny gives the impression that she is sticking close to Maggie, Maggie in return will stick close to her. It is true that Maggie may inform her father that Fanny knew about Charlotte’s previous relationship with Amerigo, but she doubts she will for her father’s sake. It was for Maggie’s sake to begin with that Fanny obtained a wife for her father—to get Charlotte out of the way so Maggie could establish her marriage with Amerigo. Fanny is perfectly fine with Charlotte as Amerigo’s mistress, and she fully believes that both Maggie and her father will not hold her responsible for the state of affairs as they now stand. When the Colonel is amazed that Fanny believes Maggie will forgive her for her lie, Fanny points out that Maggie herself is lying in admitting Fanny’s statement as truth. The Colonel asks what his role is to be in all this, and Fanny tells him that he needs to do nothing. Maggie knows what the situation is but will not let anyone else know that she does.

Amerigo and Maggie stay in London for a week before joining the others at Fawns. Once there, Maggie cannot bring herself to manipulate her husband into feeling guilty. Her only solace is that the crowd of people present prevents Amerigo and Charlotte from being together without exposing themselves to the scandal.

The Assinghams clearly enjoy themselves; they dine as if they never had enough to eat at home. The tension, however, is in the air; it is visible especially to Fanny. She is not sure if she can pull off her plan to keep everyone in the dark. It is obvious that too many people know the truth about Charlotte and Amerigo.