Study Guide

Howards End Chapter 23

By E.M. Forster

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Chapter 23

  • Margaret and Helen have something of an odd argument over Margaret's decision to marry Mr. Wilcox. Helen gives in and tells her sister to go ahead and marry him, but not to expect her to like him. Rather, she's determined to keep disliking him (and not hide it), and to fully go about things her own way from now on.
  • Helen at least grants that she will be civil to Mr. Wilcox in public, if Margaret will do the same with her friends.
  • Everything between the two sisters themselves is fine; Margaret is reassured that Helen will still love her, at least. She returns to London to meet Henry (Mr. Wilcox).
  • The next morning, she shows up at his office (the Imperial and West African Rubber Company). She's met by Charles, who, despite his indignation, is polite to her. He talks down Howards End, no doubt with the intention of putting Margaret off it.
  • Mr. Wilcox shows up as they're discussing the bad behavior of their lessor, Mr. Bryce, who's already started advertising for a subletter, even though they said not to. He put up a notice on the house, but Charles tore it down.
  • Mr. Wilcox and Margaret leave Charles at work and drive down to Hilton. The scenery is pretty, and presently, they arrive at the village.
  • Dolly meets them at their house, and offers them lunch, during which the conversation is pleasant and mocking, and Margaret meets her future step-grandchildren.
  • After lunch, they go to Howards End, and Margaret finally gets to see the house for the first time. Mr. Wilcox has forgotten the key, so he goes back to grab it, leaving Margaret on her own.
  • She first sees the trees and the garden, which she finds perfectly beautiful. She discovers that the house is actually open, and goes in. It's dirty and unkempt, but she still finds it all beautiful.
  • Margaret roams the house, thinking of the value of space and empire, and is interrupted by the appearance of a mysterious old woman, who simply says that Margaret reminded her of Ruth Wilcox. The old woman walks out into the rain, leaving Margaret mystified.

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