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Howard’s End

Howard’s End (1910) is a novel by E.M. Forster. It deals with an

English country house called Howard’s End, and its influence on the lives

of the idealistic and intellectual Schlegel sisters, the wealthy and

materialistic Wilcox family, and the poor bank clerk Leonard Bast.

A recurrent theme in E.M. Forster’s (1879-1970) work is that of his

characters moving from a muddle to some new connections. The motto of

Howards End (1910), for example, is: “Only connect”

The muddle often involves characters who think they know how life

should be, but in their hearts know that there’s so much more than their

dreary little lives have yet imagined.

The total range of awareness and emotive mental response of an

individual from the lowest pre-speech level to the highest articulated

level of rational thought. The assumption is that in the mind of an

individual at a given moment a STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS (the phrase

originated in this sense with William James) is a mixture of all the levels

of awareness, an unending flow of sensations, thoughts, memories,

associations, and reflections; if the exact content of the mind

(“consciousness”) is to be described at any moment then these varied,

disjointed, and illogical elements must find expression in a flow of words,

images and ideas similar to the unorganized flow of the mind.

Themes of the novel include the conflict between materialism and

idealism, practicality and imagination, reason and passion, city life and

country life. Another theme of the novel is the repressive nature of the

class structure of English society. Another theme is the emptiness and

hypocrisy of upper-class society.

Often the connection does not work out as planned, ending in tragedy.

Where Angels Fear t


o tread (1905) is an example of this.

Forster is fascinated with the idea of pushing, taking chances… of

crossing a bridge between classes, races, and cultures… to see if he and

his protagonists can make new connections and in fact truly grow. Maybe the

world is what we make of the chances given as well as promises broken.

“No; the Wilcoxes are not to be blamed. The problem is too terrific;

and they could not even perceive the problem.” Howards End


A major theme of the novel is the contrast or conflict between the

Schlegel family and the Wilcox family. The Schlegels are idealistic and

intellectual, while the Wilcoxes are more materialistic and motivated by

the desire to maintain their wealth and property. The Schlegels are liberal

and cosmopolitan in outlook, while the Wilcoxes are more conservative and

interested in maintaining their position in society. The Schlegels are

sentimental about helping the poor, while Henry Wilcox refuses tobe

sentimental, saying that there will always be rich and poor. The Schlegels

try to help Leonard Bast, but the misfortunes of the poor clerk mean

nothing to Henry Wilcox. Henry Wilcox is practical and businesslike, while

the Schlegel sisters are more motivated by impulse or intuition. Henry

lacks the capacity for introspection, but Margaret is intellectual. Henry!

has been unfaithful to his wife Ruth, but Margaret is faithful to her sense

of personal responsibility. Forster shows sympathy for both the Schlegels

and the Wilcoxes, while also describing their failures with a tone of

gentle irony. Forster shows that the Schlegels, despite their idealism, can

be impractical, impulsive, and sentimental, and that the Wilcoxes, despite

their narow-mindedness and materialism, are practical, realistic, and

represent the foundation of

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British society. The setting of the struggle

between the Schlegels and the Wilcoxes is Howard’s End, which represents


Forster was on friendly terms with the Bloomsbury Group, which also

included Virginia Woolf and Duncan Grant. Aspects of the Novel was

published in 1927, originally delivered as the Clark Lecture series at

Trinity College, Cambridge. Its critique against static art compared to

that which invoked “life” annoyed Woolf.

A sophisticated, jaded, yet sympathetic insight to the workings of the

female heart and mind. Clarissa Dalloway is not a character of substance,

strength, or romance. Mrs.Dalloway is a terribly complex creation. A

character destined to frustrate all of those who would reduce Woolf’s

writings to the pitiful mewling of an abused and confused girl. Mrs.

Dalloway has achieved something beyond the parties, confidences, and


In many lives there is a crossroads. We make our choice, and follow it

down to the present moment. Still inside of us is that other person, who

stands forever poised at the head of the path not chosen. “Mrs. Dalloway”

is about a day’s communion between the woman who exists, and the other

woman who might have existed instead.

The novel stays mostly within the mind of Clarissa, with darts into

other minds. To the world she is a respectable 60-ish London woman, the

wife of a cabinet official. To us, she is a woman who will always wonder

what might have been.

This is a wonderful story which takes us through a day in the life of

Mrs. Dalloway. It is not a feminist handbook, but a beautifully written

story of how our lives are all intertwined, bound to each other by

circumstances that we sometimes are not even aware of. We follow the

errands of Mrs. Dalloway as she prepares for an evening party and the

nightmarish last day of poor Septimus who is suffering from ‘soldier’s

heart’. It is written in a rare style which is near to poetry. The impact

of ‘Mrs. Dalloway’ is psychological and thought-provoking. The flow shifts

constantly in a stream-of-conscious examination of the individual

perspectives of those in the world around Mrs. Dalloway, and those in the

world around us. The syntax adds to the flow of the novel, creating

something more than a story… a work of art.

In the first scene of Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, Clarissa is

walking around London on a mission to buy flowers for a party she is

hosting that evening. The caterer has been busy since dawn, the day is

beautiful, and she walks through Hyde Park to buy the flowers herself. So

opened Virginia Woolf’s famous 1923 novel, which followed Clarissa Dalloway

for a day, using the new stream-of-consciousness technique that James Joyce

was experimenting with. We will follow her through until the end of her

party, during a day in which no one she meets wil! l know what she’s really

thinking: All they will see is her reserved, charming exterior. However, as

one progresses through the novel, the walk appears to be more of an escape

from her traditional social identity rather than a true illustration of her

character. It is through the use of other characters that Woolf allows us

to truly see inside Clarissa Dalloway’s mind.

She happens to look at the world in quite a different way.

Particularly remember the scene in the park where Mrs. Dalloway and the

young man are both sitting.

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