Overview

"Only Connect," Forster's key aphorism, informs this novel about an English country house, Howards End, and its influence on the lives of the wealthy and materialistic Wilcoxes; the cultured, idealistic Schlegel sisters; and the poor bank clerk Leonard Bast. Bringing together people from different classes and nations by way of sympathetic insight and understanding, Howards End eloquently addresses the question "Who shall inherit England?"

About the Series: Each Norton Critical Edition includes an authoritative ...
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Howards End

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Overview

"Only Connect," Forster's key aphorism, informs this novel about an English country house, Howards End, and its influence on the lives of the wealthy and materialistic Wilcoxes; the cultured, idealistic Schlegel sisters; and the poor bank clerk Leonard Bast. Bringing together people from different classes and nations by way of sympathetic insight and understanding, Howards End eloquently addresses the question "Who shall inherit England?"

About the Series: Each Norton Critical Edition includes an authoritative text, contextual and source materials, and a wide range of interpretations-from contemporary perspectives to the most current critical theory-as well as a bibliography and, in most cases, a chronology of the author's life and work.

Howards End, published in 1910, concerns the relationships that develop between the imaginative, life-loving Schlegel family -- Margaret, Helen, and their brother Tibby -- and the seemingly cool, pragmatic Wilcoxes -- Henry and Ruth and their children Charles, Paul, and Evie.

Margaret finds a soulmate in Ruth, who before she dies declares in a note that her family's country house, Howards End, should go to Margaret. Her survivors choose to ignore her wishes, but after marrying Henry, Margaret ultimately does come to own the house.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Readers familiar with E. M. Forster will recognize the words "only connect" as the anthem of his 1910 novel, Howards End, in which he portrays the often-strained relationships between the bohemian Schlegels (Margaret, Helen, and their brother Tibby, so labeled both because of their expressiveness and their passion for the arts and because of their part-German ancestry) and the coolly aristocratic Wilcoxes. Forster further uses these relationships to explore the changes taking place in Edwardian England, including the rise of the middle and working classes and the first hints of the crumbling of the British Empire. Margaret first becomes connected to the Wilcox family when she befriends Ruth, the matriarch, with whom she feels a kinship that transcends both family and class lines. Ruth's dying wish — to leave her family's country house, Howards End, to Margaret — reveals the depth of their bond, but the Wilcoxes close ranks and vow never to disclose this wish to Margaret, determined to save their heritage from the racially mixed and caste-defying Schlegels. Ironically, Margaret later marries Henry Wilcox, Ruth's widower, and so comes into possession of Howards End anyway. But their marriage is doomed, in part, by their irreconcilable temperaments, and Margaret late in the novel expresses her wish for her overly reserved husband, the one thing that might save him: "Only connect."

This all-too-often-quoted line has, in my opinion, done both Forster and the novel more harm than good, burying the novelist's otherwise avidly political writing under a wave ofmushysentimentalism. "Only connect" has left too many readers with a mistaken impression of Forster the spiritualist, Forster the proto-new ager. This impression has only been augmented by the Merchant-Ivory-ization of the novels into films that have largely ignored and glossed over the quite oppositional political stances that Forster's novels advocated. Instead, to appreciate the complexity of Forster's writing, we need to read "Only connect" in its parallels to Rodney King's "Can't we all just get along?" — a lovely sentiment, but one that the embedded structures of race and class conflict in our culture make all but impossible. To take Forster's "Only connect" too literally is to ignore both the irony and the critique implied in the line. Time and time again we see in Forster's work that merely connecting, just getting along, simply isn't enough in a world divided by ideological conflict.

Many of Forster's overtly political pieces — particularly his radio broadcasts — are collected in Two Cheers for Democracy, in which Forster not only takes a firm anti-Nazi stance, but also turns that critical lens on Britain itself, pointing out that :
[I]t is very easy to see fanaticism in other people, but difficult to spot in oneself. Take the evil of racial prejudice. We can easily detect it in the Nazis; their conduct has been infamous ever since they rose to power. But we ourselves — are we guiltless? We are far less guilty than they are. Yet is there no racial prejudice in the British Empire? Is there no colour question?
These are the sorts of questions that haunt the pages of Forster's novels. In A Passage to India, perhaps the most obvious example, a Muslim doctor is wrongly accused of assaulting a young English woman. In the stridency of the reaction of the Anglo-Indian community — and the vehemence with which that community turns on the young woman when she realizes her error and withdraws her charges — we see the ways in which racial prejudice was an inescapable component of the Empire. This prejudice is so strong, and the division between the ruling class and the "natives" so distinct, that no amount of "connecting" can undo its damage. We watch, heartsick, at the end of the novel, as the now-exonerated doctor and his lone English defender, once on the verge of a genuine friendship, part for the last time, the doctor claiming that only when the English have been driven out of India will they be friends:
"Why can't we be friends now?" said the other, holding him affectionately. "It's what I want. It's what you want."
But the horses didn't want it — they swerved apart; the earth didn't want it, sending up rocks through which riders must pass single file; the temples, the tank, the jail, the palace, the birds, the carrion, the Guest House, that came into view as they issued from the gap and saw Mau beneath: they didn't want it, they said in their hundred voices, "No, not yet," and the sky said, "No, not there."
And again, the mystical here is not the end to be settled with, as though the eternal, unchangeable nature of man dictates the separation of the races. It is, rather, a cover for the human politics that have created this separation, seen in the oppositions of temple and jail, palace and Guest House.

In other Forster novels, the politics in question are less national and more personal in tenor. In A Room With a View, Lucy Honeychurch must defy her family, her class, and all of British convention in order to marry George Emerson, a passionate young man who may be the son of a socialist. And, more notably, in Maurice, a novel written in 1913 but not published until 1971, Forster depicts a young man confronting his homosexuality, creating an overwhelmingly sympathetic — and far in advance of its time — portrait of the possibilities of genuine love between men. But it is in Howards End that we see the personal and the political most intertwined. While Margaret is embarked upon her adventure with the Wilcoxes, her sister Helen takes under her wing a young clerk who is struggling to rise out of the working class. They do connect — in more ways than one — but this relationship is ultimately disastrous for the young man. Despite the Schlegels' infinite goodwill, their unthinking manipulation of this man brings him into conflict with the power of the Wilcoxes and finally destroys him.

It is indisputable that the sense of connections across class and racial lines embodied in Margaret's injunction to "only connect" is a key element, for Forster, in solving many contemporary political crises. But it is the complex, nuanced exploration of the connections between the political and the personal, the material and the spiritual, that is the great strength of Forster's work. The "only" in that injunction is as much a critique of Margaret's easy liberalism as it is a benediction, reminding us that, while the world might be different if we could all just get along, some substantive things need to change before the getting-along can begin.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick

From the Publisher
With a new Introduction by James Ivory
Commentary by Virginia Woolf, Lionel Trilling, Malcolm Bradbury, and Joseph Epstein

"Howards End is a classic English novel . . . superb and wholly cherishable . . . one that admirers have no trouble reading over and over again," said Alfred Kazin.

First published in 1910, Howards End is the novel that earned E. M. Forster recognition as a major writer. At its heart lie two families—the wealthy and business-minded Wilcoxes and the cultured and idealistic Schlegels. When the beautiful and independent Helen Schlegel begins an impetuous affair with the ardent Paul Wilcox, a series of events is sparked—some very funny, some very tragic—that results in a dispute over who will inherit Howards End, the Wilcoxes' charming country home. As much about the clash between individual wills as the clash between the sexes and the classes, Howards End is a novel whose central tenet, "Only connect," remains a powerful prescription for modern life.

"Howards End is undoubtedly Forster's masterpiece; it develops to their full the themes and attitudes of [his] early books and throws back upon them a new and enhancing light," wrote the critic Lionel Trilling.

From Barnes & Noble
The story of two sisters of liberal and artistic temperament whose lives collide with those of a hard-headed, haughty, and status-driven father and son. Forster's masterpiece about the ways in which social class and money impose themselves between people and the world.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781775414353
  • Publisher: The Floating Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 400 KB

Meet the Author

Edward Morgan Forster was born in London in 1879. He wrote six novels, four of which appeared before the First World War, Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905), The Longest Journey (1907), A Room with a View (1908), and Howard's End (1910). An interval of fourteen years elapsed before he published A Passage to India. It won both the Prix Femina Vie Heureuse and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Maurice, his novel on a homosexual theme, finished in 1914, was published posthumously in 1971. He also published two volumes of short stories; two collections of essays; a critical work, Aspects of the Novel; The Hill of Devi, a fascinating record of two visits Forster made to the Indian State of Dewas Senior; two biographies; two books about Alexandria (where he worked for the Red Cross in the First World War); and, with Eric Crozier, the libretto for Britten's opera Billy Budd. He died in June 1970.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Edward Morgan Forster
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 1, 1879
    2. Place of Birth:
      London
    1. Date of Death:
      June 7, 1970
    2. Place of Death:
      Coventry, England

Read an Excerpt

'The Signora had no business to do it,' said Miss Bartlett, 'no business at all. She promised us south rooms with a view close together, instead of which here are north rooms, looking into a courtyard, and a long way apart. Oh, Lucy!'

'And a Cockney, besides!' said Lucy, who had been further saddened by the Signora's unexpected accent. 'It might be London.' She looked at the two rows of English people who were sitting at the table; at the row of white bottles of water and red bottles of wine that ran between the English people; at the portraits of the late Queen and the late Poet Laureate that hung behind the English people, heavily framed; at the notice of the English church (Rev. Cuthbert Eager, M.A. Oxon.), that was the only other decoration of the wall. 'Charlotte, don't you feel, too, that we might be in London? I can hardly believe that all kinds of other things are just outside. I suppose it is one's being so tired.'

'This meat has surely been used for soup,' said Miss Bartlett, laying down her fork.

'I want so to see the Arno. The rooms the Signora promised us in her letter would have looked over the Arno. The Signora had no business to do it at all. Oh, it is a shame!'

'Any nook does for me,' Miss Bartlett continued; 'but it does seem hard that you shouldn't have a view.'

Lucy felt that she had been selfish. 'Charlotte, you mustn't spoil me: of course, you must look over the Arno, too. I meant that. The first vacant room in the front--'

'You must have it,' said Miss Bartlett, part of whose travelling expenses were paid by Lucy's mother--a piece of generosity to which she made many a tactful allusion.

'No, no. You must haveit.'

'I insist on it. Your mother would never forgive me, Lucy.'

'She would never forgive me.'

The ladies' voices grew animated, and--if the sad truth be owned--a little peevish. They were tired, and under the guise of unselfishness they wrangled. Some of their neighbours interchanged glances, and one of them--one of the ill-bred people whom one does meet abroad--leant forward over the table and actually intruded into their argument. He said:

'I have a view, I have a view.'

Miss Bartlett was startled. Generally at a pension people looked them over for a day or two before speaking, and often did not find out that they would 'do' till they had gone. She knew that the intruder was ill-bred, even before she glanced at him. He was an old man, of heavy build, with a fair, shaven face and large eyes. There was something childish in those eyes, though it was not the childishness of senility. What exactly it was Miss Bartlett did not stop to consider, for her glance passed on to his clothes. These did not attract her. He was probably trying to become acquainted with them before they got into the swim. So she assumed a dazed expression when he spoke to her, and then said: 'A view? Oh, a view! How delightful a view is!'

'This is my son,' said the old man; 'his name's George. He has a view too.'

'Ah,' said Miss Bartlett, repressing Lucy, who was about to speak.

'What I mean,' he continued, 'is that you can have our rooms, and we'll have yours. We'll change.'

The better class of tourist was shocked at this, and sympathized with the new-comers. Miss Bartlett, in reply, opened her mouth as little as possible, and said:

'Thank you very much indeed; that is out of the question.'

'Why?' said the old man, with both fists on the table.

'Because it is quite out of the question, thank you.'

'You see, we don't like to take--' began Lucy.

Her cousin again repressed her.

'But why?' he persisted. 'Women like looking at a view; men don't.' And he thumped with his fists like a naughty child, and turned to his son, saying, 'George, persuade them!'

'It's so obvious they should have the rooms,' said the son. 'There's nothing else to say.'

He did not look at the ladies as he spoke, but his voice was perplexed and sorrowful. Lucy, too, was perplexed; but she saw that they were in for what is known as 'quite a scene,' and she had an odd feeling that whenever these ill-bred tourists spoke the contest widened and deepened till it dealt, not with rooms and views, but with--well, with something quite different, whose existence she had not realized before. Now the old man attacked Miss Bartlett almost violently: Why should she not change? What possible objection had she? They would clear out in half an hour.

Miss Bartlett, though skilled in the delicacies of conversation, was powerless in the presence of brutality. It was impossible to snub any one so gross. Her face reddened with displeasure. She looked around as much as to say, 'Are you all like this?' And two little old ladies, who were sitting further up the table, with shawls hanging over the backs of the chairs, looked back, clearly indicating 'We are not; we are genteel.'

'Eat your dinner, dear,' she said to Lucy, and began to toy again with the meat that she had once censured.

Lucy mumbled that those seemed very odd people opposite.

'Eat your dinner, dear. This pension is a failure. Tomorrow we will make a change.'

Hardly had she announced this fell decision when she reversed it. The curtains at the end of the room parted, and revealed a clergyman, stout but attractive, who hurried forward to take his place at the table, cheerfully apologizing for his lateness. Lucy, who had not yet acquired decency, at once rose to her feet, exclaiming: 'Oh, oh! Why, it's Mr. Beebe! Oh, how perfectly lovely! Oh, Charlotte, we must stop now, however bad the rooms are. Oh!'

Miss Bartlett said with more restraint:

'How do you do, Mr. Beebe? I expect that you have forgotten us: Miss Bartlett and Miss Honeychurch, who were at Tunbridge Wells when you helped the Vicar of St. Peter's that very cold Easter.'

The clergyman, who had the air of one on a holiday, did not remember the ladies quite as clearly as they remembered him. But he came forward pleasantly enough and accepted the chair into which he was beckoned by Lucy.

'I am so glad to see you,&rdquo said the girl, who was in a state of spiritual starvation, and would have been glad to see the waiter if her cousin had permitted it. 'Just fancy how small the world is. Summer Street, too, makes it so specially funny.'

'Miss Honeychurch lives in the parish of Summer Street,' said Miss Bartlett, filling up the gap, 'and she happened to tell me in the course of conversation that you have just accepted the living--'

'Yes, I heard from mother so last week. She didn't know that I knew you at Tunbridge Wells; but I wrote back at once, and I said: 'Mr. Beebe is--'

'Quite right,' said the clergyman. 'I move into the Rectory at Summer Street next June. I am lucky to be appointed to such a charming neighbourhood.'

'Oh, how glad I am! The name of our house is Windy Corner.'

Mr. Beebe bowed.

'There is mother and me generally, and my brother, though it's not often we get him to ch-- The church is rather far off, I mean.'

'Lucy, dearest, let Mr. Beebe eat his dinner.'

'I am eating it, thank you, and enjoying it.'

He preferred to talk to Lucy, whose playing he remembered, rather than to Miss Bartlett, who probably remembered his sermons. He asked the girl whether she knew Florence well, and was informed at some length that she had never been there before. It is delightful to advise a new-comer, and he was first in the field.
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Table of Contents

About the Series
Abut This Volume
Introduction: Biographical and Historical Contexts 3
The Complete Text 21
A Critical History of Howards End 295
Psychoanalytic Criticism and Howards End 313
Picturing the Self as Other: Howards End as Psychobiography 329
Cultural Criticism and Howards End 345
Howards End: Fiction as History 364
Feminist and Gender Criticism and Howards End 379
Gesturing toward an Open Space: Gender, Form, and Language in Howards End 400
Marxist Criticism and Howards End 416
Howards End: Gasoline and Goddesses 432
Deconstruction and Howards End 447
Just Reading Howards End 467
Glossary of Critical and Theoretical Terms 483
About the Contributors 497
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Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION
"The more people one knows, the easier it is to replace them. It is one of the curses of London. I quite expect to end my life caring most for a place."

The place that E. M. Forster loved so deeply that he made it the centerpiece of one of his best-loved novels was a country house just north of London called Rooksnest. From the moment he moved in with his mother at age four, "I took it to my heart and hoped . . . that I would live and die there." Much more than just a house, for Forster, Rooksnest came to represent English country values—a connection to place, a respect for individuality, and a commitment to the contemplative life—that were increasingly threatened by the urbanization and industrialization sweeping Edwardian England. Forster's childhood idyll was to last only ten years, for at fourteen he moved with his mother to the newly fashionable bourgeois suburb of Tonbridge Wells, home to many members of the growing business class that would become a central concern of his fiction.

In Tonbridge Wells, Forster met families who, like the Wilcoxes of Howards End, were energetic capitalists focused on motorcars and moneymaking. And if Tonbridge Wells gave rise to the Wilcoxes, Cambridge was the likely birthplace of the other central family of Howards End, the Schlegels. It was as a university student at King's College that Forster was first inspired by the liberal humanism of philosopher George Moore, who advocated the contemplation of beauty and the cultivation of personal relations as a spiritual antidote to the rootless, mechanistic ethos of his age. Forster, together with the young men who would later form the Bloomsbury group of writers (Lytton Strachey, John Maynard Keynes, and Leonard Woolf, among others), embraced this challenge to traditional religious morality and to the growing commercial spirit of the time. Forster spent some of his happiest days in this company, a lifestyle mirrored in the Schlegels' passion for art, friendship, and the life of the mind.

Yet, like the Schlegel sisters, he was not completely satisfied by life among the London literati. More importantly, he was starting to understand the practicality of conformist values, of "social conventions, economic trend, efficiency," and he grew acutely aware of the limitations of liberal ideals. The Bloomsbury group's sitting-room debates and fashionable walking-parties were for Forster too narrow, too disdainful of the economic and material conditions that made their way of life possible. Against this backdrop, the character of Margaret emerged—her curious attraction to Henry, her appreciation of money, her pragmatism. Unlike her sister Helen, whose brief entrancement with the dynamic Wilcox men quickly evolves into contempt for them, Margaret, like the man who created her, envisions a marriage of soul and body, country and city, passion and prose, culture and commerce.

While Forster created the Wilcox and Schlegel families and the England they inhabit from his own experiences, the interior lives of Leonard Bast and Jacky were drawn purely from imagination. Leonard, a poor insurance clerk only a few steps removed from his rural, working-class roots, hopes to "come to Culture suddenly, much as the Revivalist hopes to come to Jesus." To Forster, who believed that "the character of the English is essentially middle-class," it was people like Leonard and the Wilcoxes—aspiring to wealth, political power, and culture—who would eventually "inherit" England, not the dying aristocratic class of the Schlegels nor the working classes. Forster used Leonard's connection with the Schlegels as the social conscience of the book. As critic Wilfred Stone wrote, "Just as [Leonard] stands on the edge of the social Ôabyss,' so he affords the Schlegels a glimpse into it— increasing both their 'panic and emptiness' and their guilt over class and money."

Because Forster did not keep comprehensive journals during his most fertile period as a writer and later destroyed some of his diaries, it is not possible to trace the entire composition of Howards End. It is known that the outline for the book crystallized sometime in 1908, about two years after Forster made a trip to the countryside to spend time with the Postens, an oddly matched stockbroker and his clever, cultured second wife who provided the immediate model for the relationship between Henry and Margaret. In a journal entry of February 1910, Forster wrote, "Am grinding out my novel into a contrast between money and death—the latter is truly an ally of the personal against the mechanical." Clearly the advancing machine age was at the forefront of Forster's consciousness at the time. With the social issues of man versus machine, country versus city, and culture versus money weighing on his mind, Forster completed his fourth novel. Published in November 1910, Howards End was greeted with glorious reviews, making Forster a literary star.

Over the years, Howards End has remained one of Forster's most beloved novels. Few works combine social comedy and political commentary with the skillful characterizations seen in the Schlegel sisters. Writing during a time of lively discussion about his country's socioeconomic conditions, Forster conceived the work as a "condition-of-England novel," a work designed to enter Edwardian debates about wealth and poverty, art and pragmatism, country life and urban sprawl that would not have sounded unfamiliar in Thatcher's England or Reagan's America. Forster, with a comic suspicion of the dogmas championed by liberals and conservatives alike, provides a distinctly humanistic perspective on some of the central debates of his time and ours.

Ultimately, Howards End is the most optimistic expression of Forster's unique vision, a sensibility that transcends the temporal confines of his novel. Its richly drawn characters and the struggles they face—to maintain human connection in an increasingly depersonalized society, to find a spiritual home in the world—are still as current as they were at the beginning of the twentieth century.

ABOUT THE E.M. FORSTER

Edward Morgan Forster was born on New Year's Day, 1879, in Dorset Square, London, the second child (the first died soon after birth) of middle-class parents, Edward Llewellyn Forster, a Cambridge graduate and architect, and Alice Clara "Lily" Whichelo. When his son was just one, Forster's father died after a long battle with consumption, leaving the family little money and making Lily a widow at twenty-five. Unwilling to live with relatives and unable to afford a London apartment, Lily moved to a house in the English countryside, Rooksnest, where she devoted herself to her son. At Rooksnest, Forster's life was spent in the nurturing, overprotective "haze of elderly ladies" that included paternal aunts and Lily's friends, and he formed a deep emotional attachment to the place, drawing later on the memories for Howards End.

When Forster was fourteen years old, he and Lily faced the disheartening news that their lease at Rooksnest was up, and they sadly moved to the suburb of Tonbridge Wells. Here, Forster attended the boarding school as a day boy, with classics as his major study. At Tonbridge he wrote for the school newspaper and won several awards for his essays, but nonetheless it was here, a place that contrasted so sharply with his happy home life, where his feelings of being an outsider hardened into an abiding distaste for the English school system.

Forster's intellectual and social life blossomed when, in 1897, he entered King's College, Cambridge. With the guidance and encouragement of his classics professor, Forster grew to admire the modern European writers Tolstoy, Proust, and Ibsen, and began to test his own powers as a writer. It was during these years, too, that he first began to acknowledge his homosexuality, falling in love with another undergraduate, H. O. Meredith, who would be the center of his posthumously published novel Maurice (finished in 1914). Meredith helped Forster become a member of the "Apostles," the university's foremost discussion group, where he formed friendships with many of the intellectuals later associated with the Bloomsbury group in London.

In 1901, with his formal education over and uncertain about a career, Forster, accompanied by Lily, set off on a year-long trip to Italy to study Italian history, language, art, and literature, and to work on a novel-in-progress. In 1903 he published his first short story, "Albergo Empedocle," and soon thereafter started to write for the Independent Review, a social and political journal founded by his Cambridge friends, to which he would contribute regularly for many years. His first three published novels, Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905), The Longest Journey (1907), and A Room with a View (1908) received generally favorable reviews and made him a minor literary celebrity, but not until the publication of Howards End (1910) did Forster achieve major acclaim as a writer.

During 1912 and 1913 Forster journeyed to India, beginning a lifelong fascination with the subcontinent. A return journey to India in 1921 provided the inspiration for A Passage to India (1924), which was hailed as a masterpiece on publication. After writing five novels in succession, then ending a fourteen-year hiatus with A Passage to India, Forster retired as a novelist at the age of forty-five.

He spent the second half of his life as a voracious reader, reviewer, and supporter of young writers such as J. R. Ackerley and Eudora Welty. A prominent public intellectual, Forster became the first president of England's National Council on Civil Liberties and was a lifelong spokesman for personal and political tolerance, testifying in the trial that successfully overturned the ban on D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover. King's College awarded Forster an honorary fellowship in 1946, and he spent the rest of his years in Cambridge. Leading an active literary and social life to the end, Forster died in 1970 at age 91.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • The differences between the two Schlegel sisters are highlighted in their reactions to Beethoven: Helen "can see heroes and shipwrecks in the music's flood," while Margaret "can see only the music." Discuss the disparity in their outlooks and how this leads to disagreements, for example, over Leonard Bast and Henry Wilcox.
     
  • Given Forster's portrayal of Henry Wilcox, what do you think attracts Margaret to him? Why does she accept his proposal of marriage, even though she admits to her sister that she does not love him? Does she grow to love him in the end?
     
  • Compared to more radical modernist contemporaries like D. H. Lawrence and Ford Madox Ford, Forster's retention of the omniscient narrator appears conservative and traditional. Yet the narrator's "omniscience" is distinctively qualified and tentative: "It is rather a moment when the commentator should step forward. Ought the Wilcoxes to have offered their home to Margaret? I think not." Whose viewpoint (or viewpoints) does the narrator convey?
     
  • The juxtaposition of masculine principles (money, logic, conquest, the external life) and feminine principles (spirit, intuition, accommodation, the inner life) is perhaps best embodied in the characters of Henry and Helen. Margaret, however, is less stereotypically feminine and maternal, saying "I do not love children. I am thankful I have none." The narrator tells us that "On the whole she sided with men as they are." When Margaret ultimately "charged straight through these Wilcoxes" and united Helen and Henry at Howards End, was it a victory in the masculine or feminine mode?
     
  • Leonard Bast is portrayed as a spiritual orphan, "sucked into the town" and loosed from the moorings of his working-class origins. Are the Wilcoxes and the Schlegels responsible for his death? To what extent is his ascent from poverty hindered by his own personal limitations and ambitions?
     
  • Although Forster's work is not conventionally religious, he frequently expresses a deep spirituality. Discuss the spiritual outlook expressed in Margaret's contemplation on love (Chapter XX), Mrs. Wilcox's bond with the English countryside, and Helen's "mind that readily shreds the visible."
     
  • "I'm broken—I'm ended," says Henry Wilcox as he contemplates his son's imminent arrest near the end of the book. Has Henry in fact changed at the end of the novel? Have his values been transformed by his marriage to Margaret? Before their marriage the narrator asserts that Henry "did alter her character—a little." Is that true?
     
  • In the final chapter, Margaret and Helen's vista from Howards End is spoiled only by the "red rust" in the distance, the mark of London encroaching on the pristine landscape. Discuss Forster's view of technology and his hope for a civilization that will "rest on the earth."
     
  • Images of water are repeatedly evoked in Howards End to suggest the dynamic ebb and flow of life, "progress," and the rush of time. London is a place where "all the qualities, good, bad, and indifferent, [are] streaming away." Contrast these images with the farm house, wych-elm, and meadow that bind the characters to the earth and the past.
     
  • "More and more," Margaret protests, "do I refuse to draw my income and sneer at those who guarantee it. . . . Hurray for riches!" Margaret's vigorous defense of the material basis of her lifestyle, a defense that shocks some of her family and friends, reflects Forster's own reexamination of the antibusiness, antimaterialist sentiments he had imbibed during his university education. How do her comments highlight the limitations of both the intellectuals' and the capitalists' attitudes toward wealth? Why can't she and her family ultimately help the Leonard Basts of the world— let alone the "unthinkable" poorer classes—financially?
     
  • On the surface, Ruth Wilcox is very different from Margaret Schlegel: unworldly, apolitical, more easily accepting of her husband's ways and views. On what basis does she sense such a close bond with Margaret and come to see her as the proper "spiritual heir" of Howards End? What does Margaret mean when she says to Helen, "I feel that you and I and Henry are only fragments of that woman's mind"?
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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2008

    Outstanding Classical Novel!

    Personal Review I really enjoyed the novel Howards End by EM Forster. I found it to be a very intriguing and classical book about the difference between two families in the nineteenth century. During some parts of my reading I also noticed that I was able to become very interested in the book. Since I had such a strong liking of the book I would highly recommend it. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys classical texts, but also to anyone who would like to expand on the type of books that they read. Literary Analysis Two of the main characters in Howards End are the Schlegel sisters. The sisters are Helen and Margaret (aka Meg). Helen was a little irresponsible but yet charming. Margaret was the more responsible one but also was known to ask questions at the wrong time. ¿You would say the wrong thing to a certainty you would. In your anxiety for Helen¿s happiness you would offend the whole of these Wilcoxes by asking one of your impetuous questions- not that one minds offending them,¿ Said their Aunt Juley about Margaret. At the beginning of the story I noticed that the sisters were very close. As the story kept going I noticed different events that seemed to be moving them apart from each other. One of the major events that I thought showed this was Margaret¿s marriage to Henry. Since Henry and Helen did not particularly get along, Helen and Margaret didn¿t see one another as often. There was an instance towards the end of the story when Margaret didn¿t even know where Helen was. To get a hold of Helen again she wrote a letter to her saying that their Aunt had become very ill, this was the only idea she could come up with to get Helen to visit. I think the author created these characters to show how different conflicts really can take place. I find the characters in the story to be very believable. This is something that I think is important in a story in order for the story to even seem realistic. The setting of this story was in England during the early nineteen-hundreds. During this time there was some conflicts between the English and the German. This is also part of the reason that I believe they chose to use the Schlegel¿s and the Wilcoxes. They were two very different families. A specific place that the climax of the story takes place is at Howards End. This is the house that the Wilcoxes owned before Margaret inherited the property from her husband Henry¿s mother. This property creates a place that all of the characters are very familiar with. It is also the place where Helen stayed with the Wilcoxes causing the two families to have such a strong connection. After reading the book I was able to observe something I found interesting about the home. I believe that it is a comfort zone for the family, a place where they can all connect. Another important aspect to the story is the point of view. The point of view the author has in this story is third person. An example of this view is proved by the following piece of text: ¿She recovered herself, but not before Charles had observed her. Stupid and attentive, he was watching the scene.¿ This piece of text from the book shows the words she, he, and her, which are all examples of words used in third-person point of view. This point of view doesn¿t cause the reader to choose sides with any of the characters. Instead the reader can choose their own sides and also know what all of the characters think. That is the reason why I believe that the author chose to use third-person view. This was an amazing novel by EM Forster that encourages me to read more of his novels.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2003

    A work of art!

    I found this book to be very descriptive and artistic, I love the way the author describes all his characters, even the lesser ones. (For example, the wife of Charles Wilcox.) He puts things in a way that seems to be the makings of a very beautiful film, though I am sure there probably is a movie out already about this book! I would reccomend this to just about any classic book lover, perhaps even to Jane Autsen fans!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2001

    A Britsh Novel by E.M. Forster

    E.M. Forster's Howard's End draws an excellent image of life in England during the early part of the Twentieth Century. Forster's setting and diction are very well written. While I was reading, I was able visualize the scene in my mind. The first few chapters of the novel seem slow. I find that novels and short stories that begin the first paragraph with a letter to some other character irritating and a turn-off. It was not until Leonard Bast was introduced that I started to become more interested in book. I was cheering for Leonard throughout the novel. On the contrary, I felt that Henry Wilcox was cold and ruthless. He did not realize how important it is to help out other people who are less fortunate. It was no surprise that in a recent movie adaptation of Howard's End, in the movie the role of Henry Wilcox was performed by Anthony Hopkins. The characterization was also developed very well. Every character was tied in to the main plot in some manner. The novel was in my opinion a little too long. It was complex reading mainly because it was written in early Twentieth Century British English. There was a great deal of conflict between many of the important characters. To me that was one of the high points of the novel. It kept my interest in the book. But I found it very hard to understand what Margaret Schlegel saw in Henry in the first place. Certainly it wasn't that he had good looks and a great sense of humor! I would recommend Howard's End to other readers, especially those who enjoy early Twentieth Century British literature. The story was entertaining. This novel is without a doubt a British classic. >

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    Posted June 7, 2011

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    Posted August 8, 2010

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    Posted October 25, 2008

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    Posted February 16, 2009

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    Posted July 18, 2011

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    Posted October 31, 2008

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    Posted June 20, 2009

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