by E.M. Forster
Howards End Chapter 5 Summary
- The chapter opens on the scene of the extended Schlegel family attentively listening to a performance of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, each in their own way.
- Helen romantically infuses the music with her own imagination, and sees a whole fantastical string of images that accompany it.
- Margaret hears only the music.
- Tibby, always academic, knowledgeably ponders the musical score as he listens.
- They are accompanied by their cousin Frieda Mosebach, her "young man," Herr Liesecke, and Aunt Juley.
- In between movements, Aunt Juley notices Margaret talking to an unknown young man, about whom she asks Helen. They're interrupted by the start of the second movement, the Andante.
- We are treated to the narrator's observations of these various listeners, all of whom have different ways of responding to the music. To whimsical Helen, the movement speaks of pessimistic goblins walking around the world, only to be blown away by Beethoven's ending (though they might always come back).
- Helen is overcome by the music, and she escapes during the applause to go home alone.
- The young man Margaret's speaking to pipes up, noticing that Helen has stolen his umbrella in her quick escape.
- Margaret tries to make Tibby run after Helen to fetch it, but he refuses. The next piece, the Four Serious Songs by Brahms, prevents anyone from going anywhere.
- When the Brahms ends, Margaret gives her calling card to the young man, in case he'd like to come by and pick up his umbrella after the concert. The two of them make small talk, and Margaret comments that she doesn't like the next piece in the concert program, Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance. At this, Frieda and Herr Liesecke dash away to go meet up with some friends, to Aunt Juley's dismay.
- Frieda leaves her bag behind, and the young man dashes out to give it to her. He feels good about the fact that Margaret trusted him with Frieda's purse, and decides to go with the Schlegels to pick up his umbrella from their house after the concert.
- Margaret finds the young man quite intriguing, despite the fact that his over-eager manners make her feel their class difference (though it's not very distant), and she wants to invite him to tea. As they walk, they further discuss music, and Tibby and Aunt Juley steal the show, arguing about the music they've just heard.
- The discussion spreads to Margaret, who asks whether or not music and other art forms (particularly painting) are the same or different. Helen, apparently, believes them to be the same, while Margaret maintains that there's a difference. The young man is intrigued by these odd siblings in turn.
- Margaret goes on, trash talking German composer Richard Wagner for blending all of the arts together.
- The young man, meanwhile, is overwhelmed by this high-flown discussion. He can't imagine what it must be like to be as cultured and knowledgeable as Margaret. He then begins to worry about his umbrella – apparently, he's quite a worrier.
- The party arrives at Wickham Place, and Margaret asks the young man to come in and have some tea. He's distraught by this crazy family.
- Helen flies downstairs to let them into the house, and apologizes for taking the man's umbrella. Apparently, the inadvertent theft of other people's hats and umbrellas is pretty commonplace for Margaret and Helen. She finds a particularly ratty umbrella in their collection, and, though she says it must be hers, it's actually the young man's. He takes it and dashes off.
- Margaret blames Helen for scaring the stranger off, and she runs out to try and stop him, but it's no use. Aunt Juley thinks it's a good thing he left – after all, she reasons, he might have stolen some of the valuable knickknacks lying about the house, including a precious picture by the painter Charles Ricketts.
- Tibby is bored by this and goes upstairs to tend to the tea and scones. He's obviously an expert at this duty.
- On their way upstairs to join their brother, Helen remarks that she wishes they had a "real" boy in the house, not just the opera-loving Tibby. When they get to him, Margaret accuses Tibby of not making their visitor feel at home enough; the house, in her opinion, is too full of "screaming women." Tibby has no defense.
- They argue over what kind of man they should have around the house – Margaret teases Helen that they might be better off with some men like the "W."s (the Wilcoxes, that is).
- Margaret comes to the conclusion that their home is irrevocably feminine, but they should try and keep it from being effeminate, a fine distinction.
- The sisters laugh about the idea of stuffy Queen Victoria hosting a dinner party full of Pre-Raphaelite artists, and the conversation is derailed.
- Though they move onto other subjects, it's clear that the young man of the stolen umbrella left quite an impression.
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