Howards End by E.M. Foster Essay

Howards End by E.M. Foster Essay

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In the novel Howards End by E.M. Forster, the notion of connection is one that is evident throughout the novel. Forster captures this notion through the contrast of the Schlegels and the Wilcoxes who represent very different approaches to life. The Schlegel family represent the liberal intelligentsia and social attitudes of a rapidly expanding and changing London in the era in which this novel was written. With German ancestry their continental manners, philosophy and culture convey a cosmopolitanism that finds understanding and nourishment in their social circle. On the other hand, the Wilcoxes encompass a more traditional British outlook on life and socially morality, and unlike the Schlegels, they are portrayed as moralistic, chauvinistic and pragmatic. This essay will therefore analyse Howards End in order to illustrate the differences between the Schlegels and Wilcoxes, more specifically Margaret and Henry, and how their opposing views of “only connect” and concentrate”, the “seen” and “unseen” and their “inner” verses “outer” lives, clash but manage to integrate to find a common ground.
From the beginning of the novel there are numerous attempts to unite the Schlegel and the Wilcox family, even though their different sets of values tend to clash and often force social negotiations, moral compromise, and emotional turmoil. The tension between the two families is evident from the onset through Helen’s momentary and dramatic affair with Paul Wilcox. Following Helen’s telegram “All over. Wish I had never written. Tell no one” (9), and her return to Wickham Place, the Schlegels declare that they will have nothing to do with the Wilcoxes. This encounter illustrates how different the two family’s approaches to life are, and how di...

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...cky is no different from that of Helen’s affair with Leonard Bast. Margaret states that “You shall see the connection if it kills you, Henry!” and in doing so she is determined to make Henry see the connection and take responsibility. Margaret wants Henry to acknowledge the fact that Leonard was ruined by Henry, in the immediate sense of losing his job and in the larger sense of being a victim of the “Wilcox world”, and it is because of these factors that Helen became involved with him in the first place. Margaret wants Henry to connect himself to Helen and Leonard’s affair because by doing so, it would mean that Henry would see significance to his life.
However, Henry does not connect until Charles’s efforts to remove Helen and Margaret from Howards End resulted in Leonard’s death.

Works Cited

Forster, E.M. Howards End. New Jersey: J.P.Piper Books, 2013. Print.

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