E.M. Forster's Howards End

Essay by ndawg012University, Bachelor'sA, November 2008

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Only ConnectE.M. Forster's Howards End in short is a story about the struggle between three social classes that takes place in England prior to World War I. There are many connections that can be found through out the story. For example, the upper class Schlegels are just as wealthy as the upper-middle class Wilcoxs, but they don't have the same kind of values. The Basts are the poorest, representing the lower class, also have their own values. One connection here is the money and wealth. The Schlegels have enough to pursue other things in life while the Wilcoxs are constantly looking for more and the Basts can only dream of it. There are other connections such as people interacting with each other, inner life and outer life, and the sexes.

The three different social classes encounter each other under odd circumstances and their fate intertwine. Margaret and Henry is a good example of how different the upper class and upper-middle class are: "Mature as he was, she might yet be able to help him to the building of the rainbow bridge that should connect the prose in us with the passion.

Without it we are meaningless fragments, half monks, half beasts, unconnected arches that have never joined into a man. With it love is born, and alights on the highest curve, glowing against the gray, sober against the fire" (Forster 186). The Schlegels are artistic, intellectual and impractical while the Wilcoxes are materialistic and practical. There is little common between these two families, but only with Margaret's determination to connect that the families become in-laws. Margaret doesn't display the family traits as much as her sister Helen, which is why she can tolerate Henry. Also, Henry maybe be conservative and chauvinistic, but he's not like his son Charles who is humorless and strict. Margaret and Henry are the two exceptional members of their family that don't display their family traits to the extreme.

The Schlegels have inner life and Wilcoxs have outer life like ying and yang. They are complementary opposites rather than absolute because the two need each other's support. What this means is that the Schlegel sisters live for personal relations and the Wilcoxs live for material things. The Wilcoxs focus so much on their outer life that they forget to have an inner life and this is where the Schlegels can help: "But the Imperialist is not what he thinks or seems. He is a destroyer. He prepares the way for cosmopolitanism, and though his ambitions may be fulfilled, the earth that he inherits will be grey" (Forster 323). One destroys the land to build a new civilization, but without the people to care for it the land will be worthless.

Through out the story there are a lot of moments where gender is being stereotyped. The females in the story display a more masculine side and more aggressive. For example, the part where Margaret is trying to stop the car to see what they just killed on the road and how the men don't want her to. It's not that she wants to see the road kill, but rather the men don't want her to makes her want to even more. As a lady, the men don't feel she should be doing such thing. Margaret is not your typical conservative and traditional woman, but more proactive. I could just imagine her joining a protest for women rights in the 1900s. Her sister, Helen, has a baby with Leonard Bast and the Wilcoxs cannot accept it. I assume that women shouldn't be sleeping around unless they are prostitutes. The females in the story are denouncing the stereotypes by acting like men, but that is how people can connect. Maybe with better understanding of the differences in the sex, they can get along better.

There are many connections in the story such as the social classes, inner and outer life, and gender. The Schlegels have money and time to focus on the better things in life because of the Wilcoxs for their construction of new buildings and railways. The Basts work for little money to support themselves since they are the lower class. Even in modern society today that we are labeled of a certain class. Through the interaction between the families, their differences become similar and entwined.

BIBLIOGRAPHYHowards End by E.M. Forster