The Golden Bowl - Volume Two, Book Fourth, Chapters 7-10 Summary & Analysis

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Volume Two, Book Fourth, Chapters 7-10 Summary

In this chapter arrangements are made for the Ververs, the Assinghams and Maggie and the Prince to migrate to Fawns. As the Assinghams discuss their plans, they remind each other of the way in which they must lie to Maggie about the situation between Charlotte and the Prince. Fanny is aware that if the secret of the Prince and Charlotte's former relationship comes out, she could be accused of conspiracy. Although Mr. Assingham suggests there might be someone who knows about the alleged affair and would tell, Fanny believes that the Prince and Charlotte's secret, if they have one, is safe.

In Chapter eight the Ververs travel to Fawns, leaving Maggie and the Prince alone in London for one week. What Maggie fears worse than anything is a confrontation with her husband about his actions. Yet at the same time, she hopes that he will come forward with an apology and explanation. The chapter concludes with Maggie calling Fanny to her room just before a dinner party. From the atmosphere of the room, and Maggie's looks, Fanny fears Maggie knows about Charlotte and the Prince.

In chapter nine Maggie decides to take a stroll through the streets of London. During this stroll she comes across a shop where she purchases a birthday gift for her father. This item, as Maggie now points out to Fanny, is the golden bowl. Maggie tells Fanny she has learned that Charlotte and the Prince knew each other long before Maggie and the Prince ever met. She has set the cup on her mantel so that her husband will see it when he next comes to visit her.

Now that Maggie at last knows how familiar Fanny was with the situation, they are able to talk freely about the reasons for both Maggie's marriage and her father's marriage. Maggie points to blame at herself, believing her father married only for Maggie's sake. Fanny tries to reassure the girl that not everything need be known. She attempts to convince her to not meddle in the relationship between her father and Charlotte, as they are still happy together.

Fanny goes back to the bowl, which she lifts in her hands. She tells Maggie she does not believe what Maggie thinks the bowl represents. Maggie tells her the bowl is not gold but crystal, and cracked. Fanny lifts the bowl above her head and drops it, smashing the bowl. The prince walks into the room just as the smashing takes place. Fanny leaves, telling the Prince his wife will explain to him what just took place.

In Chapter ten Maggie reads in the Prince's face the evidence she needs. The Prince, meanwhile, tries to remember of what the fragments on the floor remind him. Maggie finally tells him how she bought the bowl as a birthday present for her father. The shopkeeper, who felt bad about charging her so much for the cracked bowl, had later that day come to the house to tell her of the bowl's flaw. While at the house, the shopkeeper saw pictures of Charlotte and the Prince, and remembered them as the ones who originally looked at the bowl. This shopkeeper tells Maggie everything about the day Charlotte and the Prince were in his shop, including their desire to give gifts to each other. After she finishes telling the Prince all that she wants to tell him, she leaves him with the statement that he needs to find out the rest of the story.

Volume Two, Book Fourth, Chapters 7-10 Analysis

This section of four chapters includes the climax of the novel. The emotional climax seems to occur as Maggie confronts Fanny with the new knowledge that she has about the relationship between the Prince and Charlotte. Maggie seems more upset with her friend, who has lied to her, than she does with her husband. Consider, though, that Maggie suspected her husband of infidelity for some time, she was just looking for proof. On the other hand, Maggie believed that Fanny was telling her the truth concerning her lack of knowledge about a relationship between Charlotte and the Prince. When Maggie hears the story of the bowl, however, she knows that Fanny has lied to her.

The symbolism of the golden bowl is very important in this section. The bowl resurfaces as Maggie chooses it as a gift to her father, as Maggie similarly thought introducing her father to Charlotte was a gift of sorts. However, this bowl is also symbolic of the time that Charlotte and the Prince spent together just before the Prince's marriage to Maggie. By dropping the bowl, Fanny hopes to destroy its symbolism, but the damage has already been done. As the Prince watches, Maggie pieces the bowl back together. The text states the pieces fit perfectly, only needing something to hold them together. This bowl is a symbol of marriage in that it is beautiful and desirable, but it is also a symbol of infidelity because this infidelity comes from giving into something beautiful and desirable, but wrong. The crack in the bowl indicates the lack of perfection in both marriages. The crack could represent the Prince and Charlotte's relationship, or the overly close relationship of Maggie and her father. Either way, some people who see the bowl recognize at once it is flawed while others do not. The prince recognized the flaw right away, while Maggie did not see it at all. In the same way, Maggie was blind to her husband's affair while the Prince had known ever since Charlotte came back into town that a rekindling of their relationship was possible. In the same way, Fanny sees the immoral relationship between the Prince and Charlotte, but like the shopkeeper with his prized bowl, tries to pretend she is not aware of the problem.

This section contains 972 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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