Study Guide

Howards End Chapter 4

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Chapter 4

  • Back in the Schlegel home at Wickham Place, London, Helen and Aunt Juley both break down. Counting Tibby, Margaret has three people to take care of.
  • Aunt Juley quickly forgets that she herself was largely the cause of the troubles at Howards End, and starts to look at the situation in a more positive light – she tells herself that she's done all she can to help her nieces.
  • Helen, on the other hand, doesn't get over it quite so fast. Her whole life has been altered by the Wilcoxes, and it's hard for her to shake them off.
  • For the first time, Helen was among people with ideas different from her own – while the Schlegels live sheltered, academic, liberal lives, the Wilcoxes are people of business, and their conservative ideas about the world are vastly different. Helen actually enjoyed arguing with them, even when they shot her down.
  • Even before Paul arrived, Helen was ready to focus all of her love for the Wilcoxes on someone – and he was the right age and handsome enough, so she immediately allowed herself to fall in love with him.
  • Paul himself was in a flirtatious mode; he was waiting to go earn some money through business in Nigeria and he basically had nothing to lose. So, to cut to the chase, he kissed Helen and told her he loved her.
  • On Monday morning, though, things were different. As soon as Helen saw Paul in the morning, she noticed that he looked afraid – and for a man of the Wilcox sort, that's a pretty alarming thing.
  • Helen, horrified, defused the situation (for the time being) by having a little chat with Paul – they agree that they'd been silly the night before.
  • Helen gets Paul to send a telegram to Margaret for her, saying that there's nothing to worry about.
  • However, as we know, Aunt Juley was already on her way, and her dramatic arrival with Charles troubles Helen.
  • The Schlegels resolve to leave this episode behind them. They take up their ordinary lives again, entertaining interesting people and following liberal politics.
  • The narrator gives us a little background on the Schlegel sisters. They're half-German and their father was a romantic figure – an idealistic, academic type. He didn't believe in the aggressive, imperial kind of Germany he saw emerging, so he moved to England and married an Englishwoman. There, he educated his children in his philosophical ways, which explains why Margaret and Helen are the way they are.
  • Helen is prettier than Margaret, but similarly intelligent and forward. Margaret is more blunt than her sister and less of a social success.
  • Tibby, their younger brother, doesn't merit much mention – he's a smart sixteen year old boy, but is somewhat persnickety and difficult.

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