Howards End

Howards End Summary and Analysis of Chapters 30-35


Following Evie's wedding, Helen pays a visit to Tibby, who is finishing up his studies at Oxford. She wants him to inform Margaret that she will be going abroad for some time, and she asks Tibby to assume responsibility for her belongings, such as her books and furniture. She also tells him of Mr. Wilcox's relationship with Jacky and instructs him to give the Basts a large amount of her money. Tibby is shocked at the sum, but Helen is adamant. After this conversation, Tibby speaks with Margaret. He is relieved when she tells him that she is aware of the situation with Mr. Wilcox, and informs him that she will write to Helen. Following out another part of Helen's request, he attempts to give Leonard the money. Even though his finances have worsened considerably, Leonard refuses to accept it.

The Schlegels must move out of Wickham Place, and as they have not found a new home, they have no place to put their furniture. Since the tenant of Howards End died while abroad, the lease has been cancelled and Mr. Wilcox allows the Schlegel furniture to be stored there. Mr. Wilcox and Margaret have a small wedding followed by a honeymoon. They start their married life at Ducie Street, since Mr. Wilcox has deemed Oniton Grange unsuitable, leaving Margaret still trapped in the flux of London.

Meanwhile, Helen has gone abroad as she told her brother she would. It is unclear exactly where she is, since she has left no residential address. She does have a place to which her mail is directed, but there is something odd about her correspondence. Margaret, however, has another crisis to deal with when Dolly comes to see her. She tells her that Miss Avery has started to unpack the furniture at Howards End. This is strange because Margaret and Mr. Wilcox have no plans to move to Hilton. Rather, they are building a house in Sussex. Margaret expresses her annoyance, and Dolly tells her that Miss Avery has become increasingly bizarre of late. She relates the story of how Evie would not accept her wedding gift of a pendant, thinking that it was too much money for the older woman to spend. Margaret decides to go to Howards End to handle the situation.

Upon arriving in Hilton, Margaret finds Madge, Miss Avery's niece. Madge leads Margaret to Howards End, where Miss Avery is. She will not come out until Madge leaves. Once this happens, Margaret is surprised to see what has happened in the house. She finds it looking very much like her own due to the way her belongings were unpacked. Miss Avery maintains that Ruth Wilcox would want the house to be lived in rather than to sit empty, but Margaret firmly explains that there has been a misunderstanding, for she and Mr. Wilcox will not be living there.

Miss Avery speaks to Margaret boldly about the Wilcoxes, going so far as to say that Mrs. Wilcox should have married somebody else. Determined not to say anything against the family that she has married into, Margaret finally asks Miss Avery to hand over the keys to Howards End. She is adamant about the fact that the entire situation is a big misunderstanding. Before she can arrange for her belongings to be repacked, she is summoned to Swanage. Aunt Juley has fallen very ill and is expected to die. It has been eight months since Helen went abroad, but the catastrophe brings her back to England. Before she arrives at Swanage, she inquires by post as to Aunt Juley's condition. Miraculously, Aunt Juley's health has taken a sudden turn for the better, and when Helen learns of this, it appears that she will not be seeing her siblings after all, even though she is relatively nearby.

Back in London, Margaret and Tibby are unable to locate Helen. By this point Margaret is extremely worried. She decides to discuss the situation with Mr. Wilcox, who in turn brings it up with Charles. They are concerned over her sanity, and decide that the only way to make contact with her is through a trap. Since she has written to Margaret requesting some of her books, Margaret replies that she may find them at Howards End. She tells her when she may pick them up, and unbeknownst to Helen, Margaret and Mr. Wilcox plan on intercepting her there with a doctor.

Mr. Wilcox does not want Margaret to accompany him on the rather unpleasant business of intercepting her sister. She is clearly worn out by the situation, and he tells her that she should take some time to freshen up. As she is doing this, he attempts to depart without her. However, his plan is thwarted by an obstacle in the road and Margaret is able to catch him. It is crucial for her that she get to Helen first. Once they arrive at Howards End, Margaret rushes up to Helen, who is waiting outside. As she gets to her sister, she sees that she is pregnant. Margaret immediately unlocks the house and ushers Helen inside before anybody else can get to her.


Helen's appeal to Tibby is notable, as she normally relies on Margaret. She now feels that she has all but lost Margaret, leaving her in a pit of desperation. She is clearly traumatized over something, and feels she must make an entirely new life for herself. For the first time, Tibby is forced to deal with his sisters as their protector rather than their charge. He is of an age where he must look out for them rather than the other way around, which is quite difficult given the unfortunate situation of Helen feeling unable to speak directly to her sister.

In these chapters, Wickham Place is said to die. The metaphor can extend not only to the house, but also to the Schlegel family. Just as the furniture has been removed from the house, leaving behind an empty shell that will soon be destroyed, the relations between the Schlegel siblings are not whole. Helen and Margaret are barely speaking, and the connection between them is all but severed. For Wickham Place, London, the growing city, has won, leaving it to its demise. Similarly, for the Schlegels, it seems that the outer life of telegrams and anger has claimed a victory.

While Helen is abroad, Margaret is adjusting to her role as Mr. Wilcox's wife. She is able to be honest and straightforward with him, but also recognizes that there are times when it is more appropriate to step back and let him have his way. She seems aware of how to make the relationship work, and considers her actions a way of making a connection. Margaret realizes that there are people in the world that she could not possibly reach if she were unyielding and righteous, which is how Helen tends to behave.

At the same time, Margaret longs for the security of living in a true home rather than moving around or being trapped in the constant flux of London. When she is at Howards End to confront Miss Avery, she sees the advantages to being out of the city. The chaos of the city can mask emotions, but in the country it is possible to live a more whole and fulfilling life. The intimacy with the land present in country living makes it easier for one to have clear thoughts and true relationships. The theme of feeling close to the land is especially important in an emerging environment of nationalism in England.

What troubles Margaret most is her relationship with her sister. She worries that Helen has let a series of relatively trivial events, including the kiss from Paul, send her into a downward spiral. She is racked with guilt about tricking her into going to Howards End, but hopes she will be able to help her. Margaret still considers herself her sister's protector, a duty more important to her than being Mr. Wilcox's wife. When the sisters are not in each other's presence, there is a communication barrier. Letters are not sufficient, for as they have so often said, they find their connection to exist on an inner level.