The Best Outcome For Charity Royall

1357 words - 6 pages

In Edith Wharton’s book Summer the main character Charity Royall is the daughter of the most influential man in town and yet she doesn’t want anything more than to escape from her small town of North Dormer and her lonely father figure that inhabits it. Mr. Royall took her down from the Mountain when she was a child and has raised her as his own since she was young, but after the death of his wife he has resorted to drinking to heal his loneliness, and later in his weakened state turns to Charity to cure his loneliness. Though his first proposal could be seen as “disgusting” and “incest” in that he tries to enter Charity’s room while he is drunk, when he later asks her to marry him for the ...view middle of the document...

I’ve got to know, to stop their talking” (Wharton 74). In North Dormer, with the traditional standards, it would be more socially acceptable for Charity to marry Mr. Royall, her figurative guardian, than Harney who would have been obligated to marry her because she had gotten pregnant, “Everything seemed to have grown suddenly clear and simple. She no longer had any difficulty in picturing herself as Harney’s wife now that she was the mother of his child; and compared to her sovereign right Annabel Balch’s claim seemed no more than a girl’s sentimental fancy.” (Wharton 151).
If she had married Harney she would not have been socially accepted by society and Charity didn’t think their relationship would work out. Charity was part of small North Dormer and was very naïve about how the city was, she would never fit into the “complicated social nexus to which he belongs [that] will never release him, and it is an arrangement in which she can play no part” (288) as written by literary critic Cynthia Griffin Wolff in A Feast of Words. Charity loved Harney, which would explain why she paid so much money to keep the broach he had given her, but it was never clear to her if Harney loved her back. They had had sexual relations but Harney had been in an arranged marriage while he was with Charity, “It was true that he was engaged to her [Annabel Balch], and that he had not yet found a way of breaking his engagement.” (Wharton 153). Even if he did, she had heard of Rose Cole and Halson Skeff who had gotten married because of obligation over having a child and the two were not happy, “Poor Rose Cole’s miserable marriage was of the number; and what good had come of it for her or for Halston Skeff? They had hated each other from the day the minister married them” (Wharton 156). She didn’t want to end up ruining her dreams and not being happy with Harney and possibly ruining his life.
Mr. Royall has proposed to Charity three times and each time has been sincere in his attempts. Before the first proposal Mr. Royall had gone to Charity’s room and asked to be let in, “Charity, let me in. I don’t want the key. I’m a lonesome man” (Wharton 16). He had been drunk at the time but days after when he met Charity again he admitted his time of weakness and how he had acted wrongfully and formally and sincerely proposed to her, “There’s something I’ve been wanting to say to you; I’d ought to have said it before. I want you to marry me… The minister’ll be up here next Sunday and we can fix it up then. Or I’ll drive you down to Hepburn to the Justice, and get it done there. I’ll do...

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