The Golden Bowl - Study Guide Volume One, Book Third, Chapters 1-4 Summary & Analysis

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Volume One, Book Third, Chapters 1-4 Summary

In Chapter one Charlotte is alone at a party. Both Maggie and Mr. Verver have not come and have instead stayed at home together. Charlotte is beautifully dressed and made up, and is proud of the person she has become. The Prince meets Charlotte where she stands and she allows him to escort her. Meanwhile Colonel Assingham watches over the scene from a balcony above. Charlotte asks the Prince to stay near her because she wants Fanny, also, to see the two of them together. When Fanny does see the two of them, she begins to question Charlotte why they are their without their spouses. Charlotte infers to the gossip that Maggie would rather be with her father than with her own husband. She tells Fanny she believes Maggie actually arranged the circumstances so that she could spend some time with her father. It is at this point that Fanny asks if the Prince comes to see Charlotte during the times that Maggie is with her father. Charlotte insists that he does not, but adds that she does go to see him. When Fanny claims not to understand Charlotte's feeling of being useful to Mr. Verver in relieving Maggie's worries about her father, Charlotte assumes the woman does not wish to continue their friendship. As Charlotte turns to end their discussion, she is told she has been summoned.

As Charlotte responds to her summons in Chapter two, Fanny addresses the Prince. She tries to warn him that it is not proper for him to be seen with his Charlotte in such a manner. The Prince, however, only brushes off her concerns. He talks instead about how Mr. Verver has saved both himself and Charlotte. That the union between Mr. Verver and Charlotte was what the Prince and Fanny had hoped for for Charlotte the day they met together at Fanny's home. The Prince argues that Mr. Verver is in a way also at fault in the situation and should think of himself more as Charlotte's husband. As Fanny becomes more and more agitated at their conversation, the Prince, like Charlotte, asks Fanny if she wishes to give him up. Although Fanny finds the courage to laugh at the Prince, she admits to herself at the end of the chapter that she feels afraid of the young man for the first time in her life.

As chapter three opens Fanny wonders to herself what she has done as she rides home with her husband in her carriage. She brings up the subject of Charlotte and the Prince's relationship and she and her husband discuss the significance of this relationship as they travel to their home. When they reach their home, Bob finally makes a suggestion that Fanny leave the situation to Charlotte and the Prince. In the conclusion of the chapter, the text indicates that Fanny feels as if she has just come back from a funeral.

In Chapter four the author describes Charlotte and the Prince's outlook on the situation in which they find themselves as one of victims. They believe they have been forced by their spouses into having a relationship with one another. They see themselves as both guiltless and blameless in this matter. Although she feels that if Mr. Verver had asked to see the Prince's telegram, that would have ended their relationship, she feels no guilt because she did offer to let him see it. One rainy day when the Prince is waiting for his wife, Charlotte comes to his house. The butler believes she has come to see Maggie, and will wait with the Prince, when indeed it is the Prince in whom she is interested.

Volume One, Book Third, Chapters 1-4 Analysis

Apparently, a considerable amount of time has passed between the second and third books. Charlotte and Mr. Verver are now married. However, Charlotte finds herself alone without her husband at a party. The Prince is also there alone. Both Maggie and Mr. Verver have avoided attending the party, as has become their habit. It is obvious there is a great distance between Charlotte and Mr. Verver as well as Maggie and the Prince. The tone of the situation, made obvious by Fanny's questions, is that Charlotte should have gone to her sick husband instead of Maggie. However, Charlotte wants to make the point the Maggie would rather be with her father than her husband and risks leaving Charlotte and the Prince together alone in order to be with her father.

Fanny feels guilty about the relationship she feels she has helped to form between Charlotte and the Prince. Charlotte and the Prince, however, do not feel at all guilty about what they are doing. They believe they are innocent victims who have been pushed to each other by spouses who would rather be with someone else.

This section contains 807 words
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