Howards End

by

E. M. Forster

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Howards End: Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
While staying with Aunt Juley, Margaret receives a letter from Henry saying that he plans to rent out his house in London now that Evie is getting married. He invites her to come back up to the city for a day and see if she would like to rent the house on Ducie Street for her family. Margaret is eager to get the matter settled so she can finally relax in her time away from London, but is wary that Henry may be manufacturing an opportunity to propose to her. She does go up to London, and notices immediately that Henry is much less businesslike than usual. He mentions how lonely he is now that his daughter spends most of her time out with her fiancé, and Margaret admits that she, too, has felt lonely.
Margaret is highly observant and perceptive of others’ motives and emotions. She successfully predicts Henry’s intent to propose to her, and agrees to his invitation with the knowledge that she is agreeing to hear and consider his proposal. Henry’s confession of loneliness is perhaps a sign of desperation rather than genuine love for her, but she does not object to it.
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Once they begin touring the house, Henry proposes to her quite unromantically. Margaret kindly pretends to be surprised, and she averts her eyes to avoid embarrassing him as he struggles to express his affection. She thinks to herself, “He must never be bothered with emotional talk […] He was an elderly man now, and it would be futile and impudent to correct him.” She tells him that she needs a day to think about the sudden proposal and will write to him with her answer.
Margaret is extremely considerate of Henry’s feelings and views his poor handling of emotion with a great deal of leniency. She freely forgives him for his traditional masculine sensibilities instead of pushing him to be honest with her and with himself about his feelings. She doesn’t consider that enabling his stunted emotional development may lead to future marital problems.
Themes
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