Chapters 5 and 6 Summary and Analysis
Mr. Wentworth visits his niece, Eugenia, each afternoon. In return, she comes to tea with the family a couple of hours after his visit. Mr. Wentworth, despite these frequent visits, cannot get use to Eugenia’s ways. He recalls that his older half-sister, Eugenia’s and Felix’s mother, had visited Europe with their aunt when she was twenty and never returned to America. She willfully married Adolphus Young and disappeared from the family. She was very infrequently mentioned, although Mr. Wentworth had heard vague reports of her having children. This background prevents him from getting to know her as much as he might. With Felix, however, the relationship was easier, due to Felix’s ebullient personality. It was impossible to dislike Felix. Additionally, his artistic talent gave him an air of foreignness that made his cousin Gertrude surprised by the family connection. Felix insists that he is an amateur, not an artist, which makes him seem even more “European.”
Felix asks Mr. Wentworth if he can paint a portrait of his uncle. Felix states that his face is like that of a cardinal or priest who had lived a pure and abstinent life. Mr. Wentworth is not impressed, but Eugenia jokes that her uncle must have a past. Offended, Mr. Wentworth refuses to be painted by Felix, but Gertrude begs him to paint her portrait. Her cousin, Lizzie, chides her for thinking that she is beautiful enough to be painted, but Gertrude says that she knows she is not, but simply thinks it would be interesting to be painted. Felix agrees, and begins to paint her portrait the next day. They speak of the family’s seeming inability to be anything but sad and serious. On her return home she is met by Mr. Brand, who confesses his love for her. She rebukes him, stating that she has rejected his love before and has not changed her mind. He remarks that she has changed since the arrival of her European cousins, and he loved her as she was before. She departs, but he says he believes that eventually she will return to him.
In contrast, Mr. Wentworth sees nothing but superiority in Robert Acton. He has a worldliness about him due to his travels in China, but he enjoys living in Boston, near Harvard, his alma mater. Robert visits Eugenia often, but avoids asking her about her marriage, since it is known that her husband wants to be rid of her. Eugenia, however, brings the subject up and tells him that it is all due to her husband’s brother, who wants Eugenia’s marriage to end so that...
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