An Inward Collapse of the Human Perspective in Forster's A Passage to India

An Inward Collapse of the Human Perspective in Forster's A Passage to India

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An Inward Collapse of the Human Perspective in Forster's A Passage to India

 
     The reverberation of sound in the form of an echo is threaded throughout E.M. Forster's A Passage to India, and the link between the echo and the hollowness of the human spirit is depicted in the text. The echo is not heard in the beginning of the text when the English newcomers, Mrs. Moore and Ms. Quested, arrive in India; it is more clearly heard as their relationship with India gains complexity. The influence of the colonizers and the colonized on one another is inevitable; however, the usual assumption is that the colonists are the most successful in imposing their values and ideologies on the individuals whom they view as the "natives." In an introduction to a text depicting a portrait of the colonizer and the colonized, Jean-Paul Sartre states that in attempting to dehumanize colonized individuals, the colonist becomes dehumanized himself. "A relentless reciprocity binds the colonizer to the colonized-his product becomes his fate" (Sartre xxviii). While Forster's text possesses numerous instances of the English losing a humanistic perspective as they place the Indians in a submissive role and treat them as subjects, it can be argued that Sartre's observation of the dynamic existing between the colonizer and the colonized is somewhat manipulated in Forster's text-instead of being dehumanized from their exposure to the colonized, the colonizers gain greater insight into the essence of humanity. The English characters in the text are embraced by the mystery and spirituality of the Orient, which is the focus of their imperialism. As a result, the English join their Indian counterparts in looking inward and outward to discover that the void a...


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...rain and snows!

O day and night, passage to you!

-Walt Whitman

 

 

Works Cited

 

Crews, Frederick C. E.M. Forster: The Perils of Humanism. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1962.

Forster, E.M. A Passage to India. San Diego: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1984

Parry, Benita. "A Passage to More than India." Ed. Malcolm Bradbury. Forster: A Collection of Critical Essays. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.

Rosecrance, Barbara. Forster's Narrative Vision. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1982.

Sartre, Jean-Paul. Introduction. The Colonizer and the Colonized. By Albert Memmi. New York: Orion Press, 1965. xxi-xxix.

Stone, Wilfred. The Cave and the Mountain: A Study of E.M. Forster. London: Oxford University Press, 1966.

Thomson, George H. The Fiction of E.M. Forster. Detroit: Wayne State University press, 1967.

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