Ernestina wasn’t able to sleep that night. She saw the light on in Charles’s window late into the night, and she took it to mean that he was disappointed in her. When Charles left for his uncle’s, she had begun to prepare herself for running a great house. She likes luxury, but Winsyatt seemed too big. Perhaps she imitated her father, who thinks that aristocrats are too extravagant, though this quality makes his business work, and he is very happy for his daughter to be gaining a title by marriage. In the twentieth century, the middle class is seen as conservative and conventional, but in the past it has been the revolutionary class. Its saving grace is that it hates itself. Ernestina certainly hates her class, but this hatred makes her seek a higher class rather than reject the class system.
Ernestina certainly isn’t oppressed by her class status, since she’s so wealthy, but she’s one of the characters most consistently preoccupied with class. This is in part because of the nature of the middle class—as the narrator says, the middle class hates itself because it’s in its very nature to try to become upper class. At the same time, the middle class wants to be seen as somehow superior to the aristocratic class, so people like Ernestina and her father put on a show of disliking aristocrats even as they seek to become them, creating a mental incongruity that is difficult to navigate.
Ernestina felt that she had reacted in a very middle-class way to Sir Robert’s news. She eventually gave up trying to sleep and took out her diary. She wrote that she regretted being so angry in front of Charles, and she cried a lot when he left. She resolved to obey him even when she doesn’t want to and to trust his judgment. She wrote much more sincerely than she usually speaks, because she hopes that Charles may one day want to read her diary. She writes partly for him and partly for God. She went to sleep feeling such a perfect bride that the narrator can only assume that Charles will eventually be faithful to her.
Charles, too, felt that Ernestina reacted in a very middle-class, volatile way, rather than with the aristocratic calm expected of his own class. While Sarah attracts Charles with her independence and mystery, Ernestina wants to satisfy him by being ever more the proper, obedient Victorian woman. Fowles almost seems to be making fun of her here, as her sincerity and dedication to Charles is typical of the idealized bride of Victorian literature.
When Sam got up that morning, he learned that Charles had gone out and Sam was supposed to be ready to leave by noon. He was shocked. He went to Aunt Tranter’s house. When Aunt Tranter came down to the kitchen, she found Mary weeping and soon found out the reason. She gave Mary the morning off until Ernestina woke up. Five minutes later, Sam fell in the street because he was running to meet Mary.
This scene exposes Charles’s lack of compassion for the lower class; he forgets that his actions will affect the lives of servants who are just as human as he is, and Sam won’t want to leave Mary. Aunt Tranter, on the other hand, treats Mary as a whole person with a meaningful life outside of her service in the house.