Chapter 37 returning to charles problems we listen as

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CHAPTER 37 Returning to Charles' problems, we listen as he meets with Mr. Freeman to inform him of his changed prospects. While the latter is somewhat surprised at what he hears, this change does not alter Charles' marrying Ernestina, in Mr. Freeman's opinion. In addition, the two discuss a topic that they previously were reluctant to discuss — that is, the possibility of Charles' future employment in Mr. Freeman's company. Charles, Mr. Freeman says, would be an executive of course, and we should be aware that in this period there was a sharp distinction drawn between those who worked in trade for a living, even when they owned the company, and those who inherited their wealth. The interview is eventually concluded, evidently to the satisfaction of both parties, and Charles is led in to meet Mrs. Freeman. We see his discomfort with these people, which stems partly from his background of old wealth and from his doubts, still largely unadmitted, about his marriage to Ernestina. Charles later admits that he hoped Mr. Freeman would cancel the wedding when he told the gentleman of the probable loss of both his inheritance and his title. He is, of course, feeling disappointed and trapped. Mr. Freeman still approves of the marriage. Charles also feels guilty because he should feel grateful for Mr. Freeman's generous offers of employment and future help for the couple, but he does not. CHAPTER 38 Charles leaves the Freeman residence in London. The foggy evening outside provides an apt metaphor for his depressed mood. He does not know why he attempted to impress upon his future
SCHOOL OF DISTANCE EDUCATION MODERN ENGLISH LITERATURE Page 86 father-in-law the gravity of his reduced circumstances, but it is apparent to the reader that Charles vaguely hoped that Ernestina's parents would not allow her to marry him. For this reason, he is looking to external events to help him resolve the conflict between his attraction to Sarah and his duty to Ernestina. He walks through London and, while doing so, he inadvertently passes by Mr. Freeman's large shop. The thought of actually working there gives him a feeling of nausea. He sincerely believes that his repugnance is based on his conviction as a scholar and as a scientist that life should mean more than merely acquiring money. But actually some of his animosity towards working in trade is based on his upbringing as a member of the upper classes; he can't help but feel that working is somehow beneath him and, he fears that he will lose his self-respect if he eventually accepts Mr. Freeman's values. He is in despair about his fate. He hails a cab in order to seek refuge at an institution that persists even today: his club. CHAPTER 39 The tone of this chapter indicates that although Charles' marriage to Ernestina is still a definite prospect, he is dismayed rather than reassured by this. There is a great deal of irony in Fowles' handling of Charles' attitudes towards his dilemma. He is influenced and inhibited by what

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