A View of the Concept of Confusion as Portrayed by E.m. Forster in Her Book, a Passage to India

June 7, 2021 by Essay Writer

Truth in a Cave

One of the driving forces of conflict in A Passage to India is the frequent occurrence of misunderstanding that occurs whenever these groups interact. Of course, “misunderstandings” are frequently innocent and can be smoothed over; attempted rape is heinous and should be treated as such in any culture. Aziz’s (alleged) attempted rape of Adela Quested leaves the rational Englishwoman vulnerable to episodes of intense emotion, which she is unable to process without the intuitive interpretation of Mrs. Moore. It is Mrs. Moore’s intuition that clarifies Adela’s muddle of emotions and at last suggests that a misunderstanding on Adela’s part, not a crime on Aziz’s part, is at hand.

In almost every encounter with Miss Quested, she is described as “fair-minded” and honest (34), and she approaches life with academic curiosity; she is described by Aziz as being unlikable for these qualities—he appreciates Mrs. Moore’s more emotional, intuitive characteristics, which he suggests make her more “Oriental” and more relatable (23). However, Adela’s “pathetic” searching nature and fair-minded rationality suggests that her account of her experience at the caves might not be an overreaction at all. Not having encountered many situations that would provoke exceptionally emotional responses, Adela is constitutionally lacking in any real emotionality. In this section alone, she thinks to herself that “she could comfort [Ronny]; but intimacy seemed to caricature itself,” and that “practical talk was the least painful” (194-195). Although not “pukka,” or properly English in every way, Adela is very much styled after typical English attitudes: she lacks those qualities that would allow passion and intimacy.

Because Adela is so stunted with her emotional responses, she needs Mrs. Moore, the intuition to Adela’s intellectual rationality, to help her process the new emotional upheaval in her life. Adela enters the cave in a muddle of feelings over her ideas of marriage, and she displays a frustrated desire for intense emotion that she knows is unlikely in her marriage to Ronny. The lack of emotionality in her daily life, and her chronic inability to cope with emotionality as a consequence, is heightened at that moment with Aziz, when his account of marriage highlights how barren her own emotional life truly is. This culminates in Adela’s experience in the cave, where her frustration with a lack of emotionality is so intense that it forces her into a hallucinatory state in which she becomes convinced that Aziz, the focal point of her frustration, has attempted to assault her. Perhaps, as is suggested when Mrs. Moore says, “‘And all this rubbish about love, love in a church, love in a cave, as if there is the least difference’” (202), Adela misinterprets her frustrated desire for dramatic emotions to the point that it physically overwhelms her and leaves a lasting psychological impression (the echo) and the conviction that Aziz has made unwanted advances toward her. It is only after consulting Mrs. Moore that Adela even considers the notion that her accusation against Aziz is a mistake.

Though absent for the trial, Mrs. Moore plays a pivotal role in further interpreting Adela’s emotional experience at the caves. The invocation of Mrs. Moore (“Esmiss Esmoor”) from those gathered outside the courthouse provides the clarifying presence Adela needs to feel more grounded in truth (226). With the addition of Mrs. Moore’s sense of intuitive truth, Adela is finally able to accurately recall her experience and admit that Aziz had never even followed her into the cave, let alone attempted to assault her. The invocation of Mrs. Moore at last exorcises Adela’s echo, that distorting presence that had twisted the events of the caves to be in the Englishwoman’s favor, and clarifies the obvious: she is mistaken, and Aziz is innocent. Mrs. Moore provides the clarifying presence of an intuitive mind, the mind that can accurately perceive and make space for more than one kind of truth.

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