E. M. Forster - A Passage to India


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A Passage to India (1924) is a novel by E. M. Forster set against the backdrop of the British Raj and the Indian independence movement in the 1920s.

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E. M. Forster - A Passage to India

  1. 1. A Passage to India E. M. Forster भारत क लिए एक मागग े A Passage to India E. M. Forster इ. एम. फोरस्टरHossein Heidari हुसैन हे इदारीRahmat Rabipour रहमत रबिपौरSaeed Khanjani Nejad सईद खंजनी नेजादMohammad Javad Hassani Nejad मोहम्मद जवाद हस्सनी नेजाद
  2. 2. Author Biography When Edward Morgan Forster completed A Passage to India, he wasin his mid−forties and was already a respected and relatively successfulnovelist. Between 1905 and 1910 he had published four well−craftedEdwardian novels of upper−middle class life and manners: Where AngelsFear to Tread (1905), The Longest Journey (1907), A Room With a View(1908), and Howards End (1910). However, although he had continued towrite short stories as well as another novel, Maurice (published in 1971,after Forsters death), he published little in the decade after Howards End. Born in London on January I, 1879, E. M. Forster was an only child. His father, an architect, diedwhen Forster was only a year old. The boy was raised by his mother, grandmother, and his fathers aunt,who left Forster the sum of 8,000 pounds in her will. This large amount of money eventually paid forForsters education and his early travels. Early in the new twentieth century it also enabled him to liveindependently while he established his career as a writer. Forster grew up in the English countryside north of London, where he had a happy early childhood.He attended an Eastbourne preparatory school and then the family moved to Kent so that he couldattend Tonbridge School (a traditional English public school), where he was miserable. However, hefound happiness and intellectual stimulation when he went to Cambridge University. There, at KingsCollege, he studied the classics and joined a student intellectual society known as the Apostles. Amonghis teachers was the philosopher G. E. Moore, who had an important influence on Forsters views. Hemade many friends and acquaintances, some of whom went on to become important writers andeventually became active in the Bloomsbury Group. After graduating from Cambridge, Forster traveled in Italy and Greece. These experiences furtherbroadened his outlook, and he decided to become a writer. He became an instructor at LondonsWorking Mens College in 1902 and remained with them for two decades. In 1906, while living with his mother in the town of Weybridge, near London, Forster tutored anIndian student named Syed Ross Masood. The two developed a close friendship, and Forster becamecurious about India. In 1912 Forster visited India for the first time, with some friends from CambridgeUniversity, and spent some time with Masood there. He stayed in India for six months and saw thetown of Bankipore, located on the Ganges River in northeast India. Bankipore became the model forChandrapore. Forster also saw the nearby Barabar Caves, which gave him the idea for the MarabarCaves. While in India he wrote first drafts of seven chapters of a new novel that would become APassage to India During World War I, Forster worked as a Red Cross volunteer in Alexandria, Egypt. In 1921 he madea second visit to India, where he spent six months as private secretary to the Maharajah of DewasSenior, an independent Moslem state. He gathered more material about India, and after returning toEngland he finished writing A Passage to India, which he dedicated to Masood. Forster found thewriting process difficult and feared that the book would be a failure. He was relieved by the booksfavorable reception, and in the remaining forty−five years of his life he received many awards andhonors. Although he continued to write short stories, essays, and radio programs, he turned away fromthe novel form. Forster died of a stroke on June 7, 1970, in Coventry, England. Today, his literary reputation remainshigh, and all of his novels, except The Longest Journey, have been adapted into films.
  3. 3. Summary In Part 1, "Mosque," the novel opens with a panoramic view of the fictional city of Chandrapore,India. The narrative shifts to Dr. Aziz, who is called away from dinner with his friends by his superiorat the hospital, Major Callendar. He then visits to the local mosque, where he meets Mrs. Moore, anEnglishwoman who has recently arrived to visit her son, Ronny Heaslop, with his love interest, AdelaQuested. After the mosque, Mrs. Moore arrives at the club just as Adela announces to the members of the clubthat she would like to see the real India. To humor her, Mr. Turton, the Collector of the district, offersto set up a Bridge Party. At the Bridge Party, Adela is disappointed to find that the British and Indianguests are grouped in separate areas of the lawn. There, Adela meets Mr. Fielding, the principal of thelocal Government College, who invites her to a tea party where she might meet more Indians, includingMrs. Moores friend Aziz. At Fieldings tea party, Adela finally meets Aziz. The other guests include Mrs. Moore and ProfessorGodbole. While Fielding gives Mrs. Moore a tour of the grounds, Aziz and Adela continue theirconversation. Aziz spontaneously offers to take Adela and the rest of the party for an excursion to theMarabar Caves. During this conversation, Aziz and Adela are interrupted by Ronny, who is angered tosee Adela alone with an Indian. After Fieldings tea party, Adela tells Ronny that she is unwilling tomarry him. Just then, the Nawab Bahadur offers to take them on a ride in his new car. They accept, buton the ride, get into a car accident. No one is hurt, and the accident is a bonding experience for Adelaand Ronny, who agree to marry each other by the time they return home. Aziz skips work for a few days feigning illness. Azizs friends, including Hamidullah, stop by to seehow hes doing, followed by Fielding. After the rest of the guests leave, Aziz detains Fielding in orderto show him a photograph of his dead wife as a gesture of friendship. In Part 2, "Caves," the hot season approaches. Upon hearing a false rumor that Adela is offended thatAziz has not invited them out to the caves, Aziz invites Adela and Mrs. Moore for an excursion to thecaves, even though no one in the party wants to go. On the morning of the picnic, Aziz meets Adela and Mrs. Moore at the train station, but Fielding andGodbole arrive too late to make the train. Aziz, Adela, Mrs. Moore, and the rest of their party proceedto the Marabar Caves. In the tour of the first cave, Mrs. Moore feels ill and is shaken to her spiritualcore by the troubling echo within the cave. She stays behind at the picnic site while Adela follows Azizand the guide to other caves. Just as Adela comes to a realization that she doesnt love Ronny, sheoffends Aziz, who slips into another cave to escape her. Distracted, Adela also walks into a cave. Having recovered his composure, Aziz leaves the cave, and notices that Adela is missing. Aziz alsonotices that a car is driving by the hills below. When he returns to the picnic site, he is greeted byFielding. Together with Mrs. Moore, they return to Chandrapore, but upon their arrival, Aziz is arrestedfor allegedly attacking Adela. Fielding spends the rest of the day working for Azizs release. At theclub, the British gather to discuss Adelas case. Fielding defends Azizs innocence, in the processoffending Ronny Heaslop and the rest of the club members. After Adela recovers from her injuries atthe McBrydes bungalow, she returns to Ronnys bungalow, where Mrs. Moore, still overwhelmed byher experience in the caves, speaks incoherently and unpleasantly to Adela. Unwilling to participate inthe trial, Mrs. Moore, with Ronnys help, arranges to sail back to England. After Mrs. Moore leaves, Adela stays with the Turtons. On the day of the trial, the Turtons takeAdela to the courthouse. In the courtroom, McBryde opens the case against the defendant. When Adela
  4. 4. takes the stand, she suddenly realizes her mistake and withdraws her charge against Aziz. Thecourtroom is thrown into a tumult. Adela is carried out of the courtroom by the crowds. Fieldingrescues her and drives her back to the college for safety. Meanwhile, Aziz and his party decide to attackthe hospital, but Lals buffoonery defuses their riotous impulses. Ronny visits Adela at Fieldings, where he notifies both of them of Mrs. Moores death on the boatout to England. Fielding lets Adela stay at the college while he goes to Azizs victory celebration,where he tries to convince Aziz not to pursue a lawsuit for damages against Adela. Later, Aziz decidesnot to press charges against Adela. With Ronny breaking off their engagement, Adela returns to England. A rumor that Adela andFielding had an affair while she was staying at the college strains Azizs relationship with Fielding, whoalso leaves for England before their friendship is repaired. In Part 3, "Temple," the novel fast-forwards several years to Mau during the rainy season. Godbole,the Minister of Education at Mau, directs the Gokul Ashtami festivities while Aziz, now a doctor atMau, attends to the ailing ruler. On a walk to a local shrine, Aziz sees Fielding and a man get chasedout by bees. The man turns out to be Ralph Moore, and Aziz realizes his mistake: Fielding has marriedStella Moore, Mrs. Moores daughter, not Adela. Azizs antagonism toward Fielding and his party meltswhen he talks with Ralph alone in their guest quarters. Aziz takes Ralph out on the Mau tank to viewthe festivities, but their boat collides with Fielding and Stellas. Everyone ends up in the water. Thenovel ends as Fielding and Aziz go on a horse ride together, with the mutual realization thatcircumstances prevent them from maintaining their friendship. A Passage to India is written in the third person, with an impersonal narrative voice. Point of View The action of the first two sections of the book takes place in the town of Chandrapore and at the Marabar Caves, located outside the town. Setting
  5. 5. CharactersDr. Aziz - An intelligent, emotional Indian doctor in Chandrapore. Aziz attempts to make friends withAdela Quested, Mrs. Moore, and Cyril Fielding. Later, Adela falsely accuses Aziz of attempted rapeafter an expedition to the Marabar Caves, but the charges are dropped after Adela’s testimony at thetrial. Aziz enjoys writing and reciting poetry. He has three children; his wife died several years beforethe beginning of the novel.Cyril Fielding - The principal of the government college near Chandrapore. Fielding is anindependent man who believes in educating the Indians to be individuals—a much more sympatheticattitude toward the native population than that held by most English in India. Fielding befriends Dr.Aziz, taking the doctor’s side against the rest of the English in Chandrapore when Aziz is accused ofattempting to rape Adela Quested.Miss Adela Quested - A young, intelligent, inquisitive, but somewhat repressed Englishwoman.Adela travels to India with Mrs. Moore in order to decide whether or not to marry Mrs. Moore’s sonRonny. Miss Quested begins with an openminded desire to get to know Indians and see the real India.Later, she falsely accuses Aziz of attempting to rape her in the Marabar Caves.Mrs. Moore - An elderly Englishwoman who voyages to India with Adela Quested. Mrs. Moorewishes to see the country and hopes that Adela will marry her son Ronny. Mrs. Moore befriends Dr.Aziz, as she feels some spiritual connection with him. She has an unsettling experience with the bizarreechoes in the Marabar Caves, which cause her to feel a sense of dread, especially about humanrelationships. Mrs. Moore hurries back to England, and she dies at sea during the journey.Ronny Heaslop - Mrs. Moore’s son, the magistrate at Chandrapore. Ronny, though well educated andopen-minded at heart, has become prejudiced and intolerant of Indians ever since he moved to India—as is standard for most Englishmen serving there. Ronny is briefly engaged to Adela Quested, thoughhe does not appear particularly passionate about her.Mr. Turton - The collector, the man who governs Chandrapore. Mr. Turton is officious and stern,though more tactful than his wife.Mrs. Turton - Turton’s wife. In her interactions with Indians, Mrs. Turton embodies the novel’sstereotype of the snobby, rude, and prejudiced English colonial wife.Mr. McBryde - The superintendent of police in Chandrapore, who has an elaborate theory that heclaims explains the inferiority of dark-skinned races to light-skinned ones. McBryde, thoughcondescending, actually shows more tolerance toward Indians than most English do. Not surprisingly,he and Fielding are friendly acquain-tances. McBryde himself stands up against the group mentality ofthe English at Chandrapore when he divorces his wife after having an affair with Miss Derek.Major Callendar - The civil surgeon at Chandrapore, Dr. Aziz’s superior. Major Callendar is aboastful, cruel, intolerant, and ridiculous man.
  6. 6. Professor Godbole - A Brahman Hindu who teaches at Fielding’s college. Godbole is very spiritualand reluctant to become involved in human affairs.Hamidullah - Dr. Aziz’s uncle and friend. Hamidullah, who was educated at Cambridge, believes thatfriendship between the English and Indians is more likely possible in England than in India.Hamidullah was a close friend of Fielding before Fielding and Aziz met.Mahmoud Ali - A lawyer friend of Dr. Aziz who is deeply pessimistic about the English.The Nawab Bahadur - The leading loyalist in Chandrapore. The Nawab Bahadur is wealthy,generous, and faithful to the English. After Aziz’s trial, however, he gives up his title in protest.Dr. Panna Lal - A low-born Hindu doctor and Aziz’s rival. Dr. Panna Lal intends to testify againstAziz at the trial, but he begs forgiveness after Aziz is set free.Stella Moore - Mrs. Moore’s daughter from her second marriage. Stella marries Fielding toward theend of the novel.Ralph Moore - Mrs. Moore’s son from her second marriage, a sensitive young man.Miss Derek - A young Englishwoman who works for a wealthy Indian family and often steals theircar. Miss Derek is easygoing and has a fine sense of humor, but many of the English at Chandraporeresent her, considering her presence unseemly.Amritrao - The lawyer who defends Aziz at his trial. Amritrao is a highly anti-British man.
  7. 7. ThemesImperialism A Passage to India is a critique of British rule of India. The British are not shown as tyrants, althoughthey do fail to understand Indian religion and culture. They are also convinced that the British Empireis a civilizing force on the benighted "natives" of India, and they regard all Indians as their inferiors,incapable of leadership. And yet, in their own way, the English try to rule in a just way. Ronny, forexample, the City Magistrate, is completely sincere when he says that the British "are out here to dojustice and keep the peace" (chapter 5). And there is no trace of satire in the passage that shortlyfollows this, which describes Ronnys daily routine: "Every day he worked hard in the court trying todecide which of two untrue account was the less untrue, trying to dispense justice fearlessly, to protectthe weak against the less weak, the incoherent against the plausible, surrounded by lies and flattery."Ronny is also aware of the hostility between Hindus and Moslems, and believes that a British presenceis necessary to prevent bloodshed. Even Fielding, the most sympathetic of the English characters, doesnot argue that the British should leave India. However, the British lack any ability to question their ownbasic assumptions about race and Empire, and as such they become the objects of Forsters biting satire. The economic consequences of British imperialism are hinted at only briefly in the novel. Thisoccurs when Fielding mentions to Godbole and Adela that mangoes can now be purchased in England:"They ship them in ice-cold rooms. You can make India in England apparently, just as you can makeEngland in India" (chapter 7). This hints at the economic exploitation of India. The British claim to bein India for the good of the Indians, whereas in fact, they are there to increase their own wealth bysetting up a system of trade that is entirely beneficial to themselves. Twenty-three years after the publication of A Passage to India, Azizs prediction at the end of thenovel came true. He tells Fielding that the next European war will lead to the liberation of India. Thatwar was World War II, and Britain, economically exhausted and facing a nonviolent nationalistmovement in India led by Gandhi, granted India independence in 1947. An attempt to pacify thesimmering hostility between Moslem and Hindu resulted in the creation of the mostly Moslem state ofPakistan.Culture Clash The English, schooled in a fairly simple version of Christianity, are unable to understand themysterious spirituality of India. Mrs. Moore shows some interest in the topic when she first arrives inthe country. She likes the idea of "resignation"-being passively resigned to the will of God-which sheassociates with Indian thought. She is also attracted to the unity of everything in the universe, anotheridea she associates with India. But the incident in the caves, when she hears the echo, unnerves her. Theecho annihilates all distinctions in the name of the unity of life, and also annihilates distinctionsbetween good and evil. This is far from the Christian view of life, at least in Mrs. Moores view, andleads her into despair and apathy. But this is merely a Westerners point of view. Against the negative portrayal of Indian spiritualityimplicit in the "echo" incident is a more positive vision that occurs in Part 3 of the novel. There is no
  8. 8. mistaking the joy and affirmative value of the Hindu festival conducted at Mau, in which the birth ofLord Krishna is enacted. Once again, this is rendered largely from the outsiders point of view, sinceneither Aziz nor Fielding understands it, but it well represents the "mystery" of Indian spirituality thatcannot be penetrated by Westerners. The clash of cultures can be seen not only in Mrs. Moores response to India but also in Fieldings.Fielding does not believe in God and therefore has no interest in the contrast between Eastern andWestern spirituality, but nonetheless, as chapter 32 shows, he feels far more at home with the forms ofWestern architecture he encounters in Venice than with the temples of India. The temples represent tohim merely the "muddle" of India, whereas Western architecture presents him with a view of "theharmony between the works of man and the earth that upholds them, the civilization that has escapedmuddle, the spirit in a reasonable form, with flesh and blood subsisting.God and Religion E. M. Forster was not a religious man nor a religious writer. However, religion is a majorpreoccupation in the book. India is seen as a meeting point of three of the worlds historicreligions−Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism. Indeed, the three parts of the book−"Mosque," "Cave,"and "Temple"−generally correspond to these religions. Aziz loves the cultural and social aspects of hisMoslem (Islamic) heritage, but he seems less concerned with its theology and religious practice. He isaware that Moslems are in the minority in India, and he thus feels a special kinship with other Moslemssuch as Hamidullah. The Anglo−Indians are nominal representatives of Christianity, although there islittle overt sign of such Christian virtues as charity, love, and forgiveness. Ronny Heaslop admits thatfor him Christianity is fine in its place, but he does not let It interfere with his civil duty. Mrs. Moore isbasically Christian in her outlook. However, she experiences a crisis of faith during her visit to theMarabar Caves, and her belief in God or in any meaning to life is destroyed. Hinduism is the main religion of India, and Professor Godbole is the central Hindu figure in the book.He is also, by far, the most religious character. For Godbole, Hinduism is "completeness, notreconstruction." The central principle of this religion is the total acceptance of things as they are.Forster suggests that this is the most positive spiritual approach to life. It is also most representative ofthe true spirit of India. A Passage to India was adapted as a film by David Lean, starring Judy Davis, Victor Banerjee, Peggy Ashcroft, James Fox, and Alec Guinness, Columbia, 1984. It was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture; Ashcroft was named Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Mrs. Moore. Available from Columbia Tristar Home Video. Media Adaptation