Allegory in Forster's The Other Side of the Hedge
After reading the first few paragraphs, The Other Side of the Hedge, by E. M. Forster, seems to be nothing more than a story about a man walking down a long road. The narrator's decision to go through the hedge transforms the story into an allegory that is full of symbols representing Forster's view of the journey of life. The author develops the allegory through the use of several different symbols including the long road, the hedge and the water.
The allegory is about man's life journey toward the ultimate goal of heaven. When the reader interprets the story on a literal level, it seems somewhat realistic, but he quickly senses a double meaning. In the story, the narrator travels on a long, dusty road that seems to have no end. He tells about the other people of the road, discussing the possessions that they attempt to carry with them. Some of these people abandon their journey, leaving their possessions behind to gather dust. The target of E.M. Forster's allegory is the transition from life on earth to life in heaven.
Forster's many symbols in the story portray his view of life. One important symbol that Forster mentions several times is the long, dusty road. The seemingly endless road represents the long, difficult journey of life. The people in the story must travel on the road even though it never ends and leads them nowhere. At first, they carry as many possessions with them as possible, but they eventually leave them behind, as he journey becomes more difficult. The narrator says, "The road behind was strewn with the things we had all dropped." Eventually, the people of ...
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... falls into the water, it cleanses his body physically, but it also cleanses his soul symbolically. His body is no longer covered with dust from his journey on the road. The water also causes the main character's pedometer to stop working. This further indicates that all links to the narrator's past life have been destroyed. He has moved on to a different stage in life, and there is no turning back.
E.M. Forster's use of allegory and symbolism in The Other Side of the Hedge helps present his belief that the journey toward heaven is easier when one has fewer possessions and does good deeds for others. When the main character strays from the road, he begins a symbolic journey into heaven. The hedge strips him of his worldly possessions, while the water cleanses him spiritually, preparing him for the life to come.
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