Study Guide

Howards End Chapter 20

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Chapter 20

  • Margaret ponders the nature of love in relation to its legal validation, Matrimony. It's an odd relationship. She agrees to marry him, and their relationship, which is founded on "good humor" progresses to a new level.
  • Mr. Wilcox shows up at Swanage the next day with a ring for Margaret. He comes over for dinner, and they go on a walk alone afterwards. Margaret is surprised that love is not the way it's portrayed in books.
  • They go over the progress of their relationship from the day on the Chelsea Embankment (Chapter 15, if you want to look back) to the present. Only ten days have passed, but everything is different now.
  • Mr. Wilcox has already had a chat with Tibby about the marriage (and about a currant farm he owns in Greece – Tibby is interested in Greece for academic reasons, not business ones). Margaret is delighted about the idea of visiting the farm, but since there are no hotels there, Mr. Wilcox vetoes that idea – he thinks ladies should always travel like ladies, unlike Helen and Margaret's past lives of gallivanting around.
  • Mr. Wilcox hasn't yet talked to Helen about the marriage, and Margaret presses him to.
  • They also have to talk about some practical matters pertaining to money – Mr. Wilcox wants to make sure that all of his children get their fair share of the family fortune, but he also wants to be fair to Margaret.
  • Margaret is totally up front about her financial situation (she has plenty of money), and Mr. Wilcox is a little taken aback by it. Margaret brushes it off, saying that he's to decide how much to give to each to each of his children, bearing in mind that she has her own fortune.
  • They move on to practical arrangements about their living situation – where will they live? Margaret says they should keep the Ducie Street house, but now, all of a sudden (since he's not trying to get her to rent it), Mr. Wilcox has all kinds of problems with it. Margaret is amused.
  • The narrator observes that Mr. Wilcox and Margaret are both strong-willed, and that their mutual strength ensures that they will be happy.
  • Mr. Wilcox walks Margaret back to Aunt Juley's house, and – rather unexpectedly – they have their first kiss, and he flees the house. Margaret is unimpressed, and even displeased by it.

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