Arobin sends her a romantic letter of apology; to downplay its significance, Edna answers as though nothing much had happened between them, and invites him to come look at her work. From that moment on, they begin to spend a lot of time together—they see each other nearly every day.
Edna slips into a romantically charged friendship with Arobin as though by accident—in reality, through his careful manipulation. Her attempts at strength and independence are partially thwarted by a powerful and dishonest man.
For peace of mind, Edna often goes to visit Mademoiselle Reisz. One afternoon, Edna tells her friend that she wants to leave the house she shares with her husband and move to a smaller house in the same neighborhood; she wants to live on her own income, which comes from a small inheritance and from occasional sales of her paintings. A smaller house would also be more convenient. She decides to have a glamorous party just before she leaves.
Though Edna has faltered in her romantic independence, she takes an important step to achieving financial independence. Though she cannot get a divorce, she shrugs off the trappings of marriage one by one – romantic loyalty, financial dependence, living in the same house as her husband.
As usual, Edna reads the most recent letter from Robert while Mademoiselle Reisz plays piano. Robert does not know that Edna sees his letters; Mademoiselle Reisz tells her Robert does not write to her because he loves her and wants to forget her. This last letter says that Robert will be coming home soon. Seeing Edna’s excitement, the older woman muses that she would fall in love with a great and famous man if she were young. Edna admits to Mlle Reisz that she is in love with Robert – not because of any particular qualities, but because of something intangible.
Here we learn about Edna’s idea of romance, or at least one of her ideas. Real romantic feeling is not rational, and has nothing to do with even the most elevated worldly ambitions. It has nothing to do with the practical facts of the world, like marriage, career, reputation, or class; it is an impulse that is disconnected from the external world. In this light, Victor’s carefree flirtations are more romantic than proper, marriage-oriented courtship.
Edna is very happy for the rest of the day. She sends candy to her children and writes her husband a pleasant letter, in which she tells him about her plans to move to a new house.
The news of Robert’s return thrills Edna. Romantic love is in some way inextricable from her freedom and awakening.