Analysis Of Howards End By E.M. Forster
Howards End is a book written by the author E.M. Forster. The book deals with many, serious political issues throughout. These political issues were going on during the change of England. Howards End was written about the English before World War I came to be. E.M. Forster used the families he wrote about to represent different social classes of society. The upper class was represented by the Schlegel family. The Schlegel family were very idealistic and cultured. The Wilcox family represented other parts of the upper class, Forster showed materialism through this family.
As stated in Howards End, “Why did we settle that their house would be all gables and wiggles, and their garden all gamboge-colored paths? I believe simply because we associate them with expensive hotels – Mrs. Wilcox trailing in beautiful dresses down long corridors, Mr. Wilcox bullying porters, etc. We females are that unjust.” This quote at the beginning of the story shows the Wilcox’s association with money, as they are in the upper class.
Last is the Bast Family. The Bast’s were put into the middle class. Forster used this family to represent the people in this time who were trying to avoid poverty. As stated in Howards End, “Oh, how one does maunder on, and to think, to think of the people who are really poor. How do they live? Not to move about the world would kill me.” This quote describes the people in the society who are struggling with money and falling into poverty. Forster put these three families into different groups of society so he could bring them together in the novel. The purpose of this was so that he could show that people, no matter their social class, need to learn how to live together in harmony, and be peaceful. Forster used the disparity between the rich and poor multiple times in his novel.
As stated in Howards End, “By all means subscribe to charities – subscribe to them largely – but don’t get carried away by absurd schemes of Social Reform. I see a good deal behind the scenes and you can take it from me that there is no Social Question – except for a few journalists who try to get a living out of the phrase. There are just rich and poor, as there always has been and always will be.” In the book Henry Wilcox supported a disinterested involvement in the lives of working class clerks. Henry challenged Margaret’s middle class perspective on life. As stated in Howards End, “He asks Margaret, “What do you know of London? You only see civilization from the outside.” Henry Wilcox believed that all men had their place in the world, and that they had to support the structure of society. As stated in Howards End, “Helen had begun bungling with her money by this time, and had even sold out her shares in the Nottingham and Derby Railway. For some weeks she did nothing. Then she reinvested, and, owing to the good advice of her stockbrokers, became rather richer than she had been before.” When Helen’s money was rejected, she had no idea what to do with it, but without meaning to, she ended up with more money. This showed that in today’s world, the rich get even richer, and the poor get even poorer. Forster also used Howards End to write about the urbanization going on during his time. As Stated in Howards End, “Like many others who have long lived in a great capital she strong feelings about the various railway termini. They are out gates to the glorious and the unknown. Through them we pass out into adventure and sunshine, to them alas! We return.” When Howards End was published, the progression of urbanization and industrialization across Britain brought a huge social change in the society. During the agricultural years of depression, many farmers moved from the country into the cities looking for work.
In the novel Helen Schlegel remarks “London’s creeping” this was a reference made about the takeover of the suburbs by the farmers in the country. As stated in Howards End, “A block of flats, constructed with extreme cheapness, towered on either hand. Farther down the road two more blocks were being built, and beyond these an old house was being demolished to accommodate another pair. It was the kind of scene that may be observed all over London, whatever the locality–bricks and mortar rising and falling with the restlessness of the water in a fountain, as the city receives more and more men upon her soil. Camelia Road would soon stand out like a fortress, and command, for a little, an extensive view. Only for a little. Plans were out for the erection of flats in Magnolia Road also. And again a few years, and all the flats in either road might be pulled down, and new buildings, of a vastness at present unimaginable, might arise where they had fallen.” Forster wrote this to show the great change in London.
As stated in Howards End, “The feudal ownership of land did bring dignity, whereas the modern ownership of movables is reducing us again to a nomadic horde. We are reverting to the civilization of luggage, and historians of the future will note how the middle classes accreted possessions without taking root in the earth, and may find in this the secret of their imaginative poverty.” Through this quote, Forster continues to explain urbanization and its ills on modern life. It talks about how people are constantly moving around, and not staying in one place to live forever. The Howards End family house was also a symbol of urbanization. It represents what stands to be lost from urbanization in the country. The house symbolizes a place of peacefulness, and love. The urban landscape was going through both, a fascinating and terrifying transformation. In the novel, the color gray was often used. Gray was used to reference the hopelessness, and depression that urbanization caused.
Life in London was described as “swimming the gray tides”. Mr. Bast’s existence was described as “a gray life”. The differences of each individual is what the color to life in their society. Forster had an interest writing about women. He used Howards End to write about the feminist movement going on during the social change in England. In Howards End Helen says, “The fun of it is that they think of me a noodle, and so say-at least Mr. Wilcox does-and when that happens, and one doesn’t mind, it’s a pretty sure test, isn’t it? He says the most horrid things about women suffrage so nicely, and when I said I believed in equality he just folded his arms and gave me such a settling down as I’ve never had.” This shows how Helen wants to be, and is an independent women, but with people like Mr. Wilcox to set her back, this makes it hard for her to be one. Forster used the Schlegel household to show feminism.
All of the Schlegel household was full of women, and one male figure, being Tibby Schlegel. This was totally opposite compared to the wilcox family. The Wilcox family household was a mix of both men and women figures. As stated in Howards End, “Man is for war, woman for the recreation of the warrior, but he does not dislike it if she makes a show of fight. She cannot win in a real battle, having no muscles, only nerves. Nerves make her jump out of a moving motor-car, or refuse to be married fashionably. The warrior may well allow her to triumph on such occasions; they move not the imperishable plinth of things that touch his peace.” This quote shows the trouble between women and men in the society. Henry had a very twisted idea of who women were.
In Howards End Margaret says, “I believe that in the last century men have developed the desire for work, and they must not starve it. It’s a new desire. It goes with a great deal that’s bad, but in itself its good, and I hope that for women, too, ‘not to work’ will soon become as shocking as ‘not to be married’ was a hundred years ago.” Here in this quote Margaret was addressing Tibby. Margaret was explaining how she hoped women to be in the near future, in their society. She hoped that all women would be independent, and hardworking. In Howards End, the females were constantly faced with the social pressures and frustration from the society they lived in.
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