A clash of cultures in india

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

A Clash Of Cultures In A Passage To India

A Passage To India is a classic example of how different cultures, when forced to intermix, misunderstand each other, and what consequences stem from those misunderstandings. All of Forster's greatest works deal with the failure of humans being able to communicate satisfactorily, and their failure to eliminate prejudice to establish possible relationships. A Passage To India is no exception. (Riley, Moore 107) To understand Forster's motive, it must be established that he is a humanistic writer. Harry T. Moore states "Of all imaginative works in English in this century, Forster's stand highest among those which may properly be called humanistic." (Riley, Moore 107) His main belief is that individual human beings fail to connect because the humanistic virtues, tolerance, good temper, and sympathy are ineffective in this world of religious and racial persecution. However, he also believes that personal relationships aan succeed, provided they are not publicly exposed, because values and noble impulses do exist wi...


Mysticism In Forester's A Passage To India

The figure of Mrs. Moore, and the problem of what happened to her in the extraordinary Marabar Caves, has fascinated critics for decades. The question has absorbed attention to a degree that does not correspond to the secondary role that Mrs. Moore plays in the plot of A Passage to India. On the surface, she is a supporting character, yet many of the unresolved issues of the novel seem to be concentrated in her experience. Mrs. Moore arrives in India a sympathetic figure, and departs unresponsive and uncaring, transformed beyond recognition by the mysterious voice of the Marabar. The deliberately unexplained matter of what spoke to her in the cave has intrigued virtually every scholar who has written on this novel, each coming up with his or her own interpretation of the event. Some have claimed that an evil, ancient force dwelt in the caves, while others suggest that Mrs. Moore achieved a life-altering Hindu insight. There is indeed substantial indication that Mrs. Moore achieved the primary goal of certain branches of Hinduism...


Analysis Of A Passage To India By Forster

Forster's novel A Passage to India portrays a colonial India under British rule, before its liberation. For convenience's sake, Western civilization has created an Other as counterpart to itself, and a set of characteristics to go with it. An "us versus them" attitude is exemplified in Forster's representation of The Other. Separation of the British and the Indian exists along cultural lines, specifically religious/spiritual differences. Savage or ungodly cultures were to be assimilated into or at the least governed by Christians, and converted. The separation between the English and the Indian occurs when the Christian assumes the Indians are an ungodly people, in need of spiritual salvation, a race below their own, and entirely unlike them. This was demonstrated historically by the dominance of supposedly inferior races by the Christians (English). Forster's Indians have a seemingly rugged outward appearance. They are a godless people insomuchas they do not believe in the Christian GOD, even though there are two religions, Hinduism and Muslimism, which thrive in India. This division of India's religions, as opposed to England's presumably unifying religion, separates England from India even moreso. Because the Indians do not believe in the Christian GOD, they are unrecognized as spiritual. Religion shapes, if not embodies characterization. The British are British because of their religion, i.e. Ronny Heaslop is who he is because he is a white Christian British male. How he is outwardly polished is a construct of his Christian upbringing. Ronny "approved of religion as long as it endorsed the National Anthem [of England]." (p. 65) His purpose, as was the purpose of English colonialists, was constructed by his Christian beliefs. If Ronny were not English (and for this paper's purposes, English is specifically and continually linked with Christianity) he would not exist as a character. He is almost a caricature of what is English, and is represented wholly by the standards and beliefs of that culture. In contrast, Aziz would not exists if he were not Indian, representing wholly the standards and beliefs of that culture. Forster implies that the division, the Other, is what makes an individual who they are. Spirituality is integral to that existence.

The Indian people are further represented in the English's eyes by the description of India itself. The city, presumably a mark of civilization, is a rotting, festering thing that no English colonialist would consider urbane; ... the city of Chandrapore represents nothing extraordinary. Edged rather than washed by the river Ganges, it trails for a couple of miles along the bank, scarcely distinguishable from the rubbish it deposits so freely... The streets are mean, the temples ineffective, and though a few fine houses exist they are hidden away in gardens or down alleys whose filth deters all by the invited guest. Chandrapore was never large or beautiful... nor was it ever democratic. The very wood seems made of mud, the inhabitants of mud moving... Houses do fall, people are drowned and left rotting... (p. 29)

Chandrapore is implicitly compared to London, who sits on the Themes (not the Ganges) and thrives, not "rots". The people of Chandrapore are made to seem a part of the city's structure. They are "mud moving". In essence, the people are the city, or conversely and for this paper's purpose, the city is the people. If London is civilization (beautiful and structured), then its inhabitants are the same. Chandrapore is ugly and chaotic. India is outwardly offensive and unpolished, visibly unspiritual and crude. The only part of India that is supposedly worthwhile, or "extraordinary" (p. 29) (according to the English) are the Marabar Caves. India itself is linked directly to Indian spirituality. This is seen in Aziz's attitude towards his country and his faith; Here was Islam his own country, more than a faith, more than a battle-cry, more, much more... Islam, an attitude towards live both exquisite and durable, where his body and his thoughts found their home. (p. 38)

India ("Islam") is not just a tactile country of earth and city, but an intangible entity connected directly to his spirituality. This description suggests a definite spirituality of the Indian people, however divided, but a spirituality within, unrecognized by the English. The English Christians have a more apparent, outward appearance of faith while the Indians have a more inward belief.

The Marabar Caves are a distinct representation of this inward spirituality. While India is rugged and rotting on the outside, the caves are beautiful; ... the walls of the circular chamber have been most marvellously polished... here at last is their skin, finer than any covering acquired by the animals, smoother, smoother than windless water, more voluptuous than love... Only the wall of the circular chamber has been polished thus. The sides of the tunnel are left rough, they impinge as an afterthought upon the internal perfection. (p. 126)

The Marabar Caves are a distinct representation of this inward spirituality. While India is rugged and rotting on the outside, the caves are beautiful; ... the walls of the circular chamber have been most marvellously polished... here at last is their skin, finer than any covering acquired by the animals, smoother, smoother than windless water, more voluptuous than love... Only the wall of the circular chamber has been polished thus. The sides of the tunnel are left rough, they impinge as an afterthought upon the internal perfection. (p. 126)

The Indians, then are perfect on the inside, which the English do not recognize. In comparison to Christianity, which is imposed, the Indians' religion is a personal, inward quest. The description of the caves imply that faith cannot be found unless it is sought. Faith will exist, but will not be recognized unless there is an eye to see it; They are dark caves... There is little to see, and no eye to see it, until the visitor arrives... and strikes a match. Immediately another flame rises in the depths of the rock and moves towards the surface like an imprisoned spirit... (p. 126)

The discovery of faith, as understood by this description, leads to new truths and frees the human spirit. This difference of imposed faith versus discovered faith is the dividing line between the English and the Indian.

Mrs. Moore appears to exist between the lines that separate the English from the Other. However, her initially strong Christian beliefs at first side her with the English team. Mrs. Moore is Christianity in its purest form, without the dogma acquired throughout the centuries and embraced wholeheartedly by her contemporaries. She believes she understands and appreciates Indians for who they are. This cannot be so, however, as she cannot hope to comprehend their level of spirituality because she herself cannot posses it. Mrs. Moore first encounters Aziz at the Mosque. She surprises Aziz by having the foreknowledge and respect to remove her shoes. Aziz, the embodiment of all that is Indian, has been raised in a world of "us" and "them", and meeting an English person with the sagacity to see through these illusions is a remarkable occurrence for him. He recognizes that she is not "them", and bound by the idea of categories, automatically makes her "us". This distinction, though, does not diminish the traits that Mrs. Moore does share with the Indians. Mrs. Moore exists in a state of limbo between two worlds, between England and India. In many ways Mrs. Moore is neither East nor West as traditionally defined. Her pursuit, simple as it may sound, is to be one with the universe. Her initial approach to this seems to suggest a more Eastern view, finding worth in people, places and experiences without trying to quantify their value, and believing in universal love as the highest governing power. The Marabar experience, however, puts her in another sphere entirely. When she goes to the caves, her experience is a spiritual one. She loses her faith in Christianity entirely, thus losing her identity. She doesn't exist. She is exiled by her son to England, where she cannot possibly exist because of her affinity for Indian spirituality. She dies in transit between these two worlds, as she cannot hope to exist in either of them. Her counterpart, Fielding, who shares Mrs. Moore's respect for the Indians is threatened with an identity destruction as he is forced to choose between English and Indian culture. Because he chooses India over England, he ceases to exist to the English, but can continue to exist with identity as an Indian. Fielding says "I am Indian at last." (p. 265)

Adela, likewise, is affected by the Marabar Caves, but not as profoundly as Mrs. Moore. Her creed or interpretation of Christianity is that "God... is... love" (p. 64 ). She is distinctly on the English team of the "us and them" attitude and though she says she wants to understand Indian culture as Mrs. Moore does, she seems to want this only to be trendy. Adela seems to share the colonialist, racist attitude of her fiancé Ronny. When he says, "... India isn't a drawing room." " Your sentiments are those of a god," she said quietly, but it was his manner rather than his sentiments that annoyed her.... he said, " India likes gods." " And Englishmen like posing as gods." (p. 62-63)

Adela only experiences the echoes of the cave, as she later experiences the echo of Mrs. Moore in the courtroom. Since Adela does not absorb the full effect of the cave, only the echo, simply a part of her spirituality is changed. Adela realizes a liberating truth about herself, that she does not love her fiancé, Ronny. This challenges the things she has been brought to believe as a result of her English upbringing. Adela then walks the fine line between 'us and them', and loses her identity as she knew it. Attempting to regain that identity, she accuses Aziz of assault, which swiftly moves her back into a position she is familiar with, and a position that can be recognized by her peers. Her accusation separates her clearly from the Indians- it is specifically Adela versus Aziz (us versus them), and the trail that ensues thrusts her into a distinctly civilized and English setting: a courtroom. This security is short-lived. The experience of the cave stays with her, as the recently departed name of Mrs. Moore is chanted. This chanting is reminiscent of the cave's echoes, and almost invokes the presence of Mrs. Moore. However, echoes are non tangible and short lived; they do not exist, just as Mrs. Moore ceases to exist. Adela is compelled to tell the truth of the situation, and is accused of hallucinating. This suggestion of hallucination implies Adela has lost her mind, no longer existing. Because she is no longer English, but she is not Indian, Adela no longer exists, period.

Aziz is affected directly by Adela's experience in the cave. Her glimpse of something spiritual and truthful prompted the mad accusation against Aziz. This reinstates and reinforces Aziz's initial belief in the Western versus the Eastern attitude. Aziz no longer exists in limbo but is obliged to be Indian, and his identity as such is solid and distinct. He still regards Fielding as the Other. Fielding asks "Why can't we be friends now?" (p. 289) and the response was, But the horses didn't want it... the earth didn't want it... the temples, the tank, the jail, the palace, the birds, the carrion... they didn't want it, they said in their hundred voices, 'No, not yet,' and the sky said, 'No, not there.' (p. 289)

In essence, India said that they could not be friends.

The experience of the Marabar Caves allows for a spiritual liberation of Mrs. Moore and Adele. They glimpse Indian spirituality in a tangible form by trekking into inner India, therefore trekking into the spirit of Indins. This separates them from their belief and causes them to no longer be identified by their peers, but still leaves them unrecognizable to the Indians as anything but the Other. The experience liberates and then destroys Mrs. Moore and Adele while reidentifying and reconfirming the existence of other characters, like Aziz, Fielding and Ronny.


Forster, E.M.; A Passage to India; Penguin Books Ltd., New York, 1979.

How To Cite This Page

MLA Citation:"Analysis of A Passage to India by E. M. Forster." 123HelpMe.com. 21 Feb 2010 <http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id=123334>.

The recurring animal motifs in A Passage To India suggest a harmonious life existing outside of the contrasting state of humanity. While tensions escalate among the English and Indians, peace presides in the animal kingdom. Perhaps the only characters outside of the animals who acknowledge this peace are Mrs. Moore and Professor Godbole who specifically identify with a wasp extending their voluntary cognizance to Indian culture and the understanding of unity among all living creatures on Earth.

"Pretty dear," Mrs. Moore gently refers to the wasp that she spots resting on the indoor cloak peg (Forster, 35). Instead of encouraging the wasp to rest elsewhere, Mrs. Moore, the idealized Englishwoman of the novel, sympathizes with the insect and says, "Perhaps he mistook the peg for a branch - no Indian animal has any sense of an interior. …insects will as soon nest inside a house as out; it is to them a normal growth of the eternal jungle..." (Forster, 35). It is interesting that Forster chooses to use an English character's observation of insects living compatibly with humans to convey the Indian attitude that all life is significant. Because of her willingness to experience the "real" India, Mrs. Moore comes to understand the country and its consideration for all life, contrasting the worldview of her home in England, and because of her interest is possibly the only character Forster could have used to do so.

The wasp motif is used twice more in ... [to view the full essay now, purchase below]


A Passage To India And Orientalism

When in 1978 Edward W. Said published his book Orientalism, it presented a turning point in post-colonial criticism. He introduced the term Orientalism, and talked about 2 of its aspects: the way the West sees the Orient and the way the West controls the Orient. Said gave three definitions of Orientalism, and it is through these definitions that I will try to demonstrate how A Passage to India by E. M. Forster is an Orientalist text. First, Said defined Orientalism as an academic discipline, which flourished in 18th and 19th century.

Anyone who teaches, writes about, or researches the Orient - and this applies whether the person is an anthropologist, sociologist, historian, or philologist - either in its specific or its general aspects, is an Orientalist, and what he or she does is Orientalism. (2) Second, in Said's own words "Orientalism is a style of thought based upon an ontological and ...


A Passage to India by Edward Morgan Forster is truly one of the great books of it's time. Written in an era when the world was more romantic, yet substantially less civil to the unwestern world than it is today; E. M. Forster opened the eyes of his fellow countrymen and the world by showing them the truth about British Colonialism. The novel aids greatly in the ability to interpret events of the time as well as understand the differences between the social discourse of then and now.

To fully understand A Passage to India and its cultural and historical significance one must first understand the world in which it was written, and the man who wrote it. Forster published the novel in 1924 England, a place much different than the England of today. At the time the sun still didn't set on the British empire and there were still serious societal influences form the Victorian Era.

Forster was born on January 1st 1879; his family was part of London's upper-middle class. At the age of two Forster's father died, leaving only his mother to raise him. Their relationship was very strong and stayed that way up until her death in 1945. Forster was educated in Kent up until 1897, and then went on to King's College at Cambridge.

Immediately after his graduation from the University in 1901, Forster began to travel around the world, spending much of his time in Italy, Greece, and Germany. His first novel... [to view the full essay now, purchase below]


The Effects Of Colonialism On The Colonizer In A Passage To India

E. M. Forster's novel, A Passage to India, is a look into the lives of both the colonizer and the colonized. While the plight of the colonized is tragic, filled with degrading images of subjugated civilizations and noble people reduced to mere laborers, it is the colonizer, the British of India, and their rapid change from newly arrived colonist to rigid and unforgiving ruler that draws my interest. The characters constantly comment on these changes that occur to the British once they adjust to the imperialist lifestyle. In the second chapter of the novel Hamidullah, a Muslim character, remarks to his friends, “Yes, they have no choice here, that is my point. They come out intending to be gentlemen and are told it will not do. . . . I give any Englishman two years. . . . And I give any Englishwoman six months” (Forster 7). Miss Quested constantly worries about becoming this caricature of her former self and also recognizes the changes in her husband-to-be, Ronny, as he fits into the British ruling class lifestyle. Fielding looks at the uncaring people his compatriots have become and marvels as he befriends an Indian Muslim. Is it possible that colonialism has an effect on the colonizer as well as the colonized?

I argue that the answer is yes. Forster clearly demonstrates that colonialism is not only a tragedy for the colonized, but effects a change on the colonizer as well. But how and why does this change occur? Aimé Césaire proposed that it is simply the savage nature of colonization that changes man into their most primal state (20). This does not work because there is no blatant savagery as in Heart of Darkness.Forster doesn't seem to be parading the cruelty of the colonizer. Thomas Gladwin and Ahmad Saidin suggest that the change is simply the myth of the white man as the British citizens assert their crowns of supposed natural, higher intelligence and worth (47). This does seem to be a good argument because of the superiority that the British colonists take upon themselves in the novel, sequestering themselves in the British club that no mere Indian can be a part of. However, it doesn't account for the more inquisitive and benevolent natures of Adela and Mr. Fielding and their acts and opinions toward the Indian people.

There is a third way of thinking, one that I found the most intriguing and the most fitting answer to my question. In his essay “Shooting and Elephant,” George Orwell states that When the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys. He becomes a sort of hollow, posing dummy, the conventionalized figure of a sahib. For it is the condition of his rule that he shall spend his life in trying to impress the ‘natives,' and so in every crisis he has got to do what the ‘natives' expect of him. He wears a mask and his face grows to fit. (152)

Orwell suggests that the change is merely the taking on of a role and that the colonizer is an actor required to play the part of the British ruler. It is expected by the native people, and also by their fellow colonists. This expectation is shown through the comment of Hamidallah and his insistence of the inevitable change. It is expected. It is the acceptance of this role is the change that affects the characters in A Passage to India, and if this is the accepted norm, then it goes to reason that those who do not accept it will find themselves outcasts of the society they reject. This is what I intend to show by comparing the plights of Forster's characters Ronny, Adela, and Fielding, as I explore their differing approaches to this role and the effects that come of either accepting or rejecting it.

The first groups of colonizers are those who accept the act of leadership whole-heartedly. They separate themselves from the population, declaring their own superiority over the masses as they build their walled compounds content to be out of sight and sound of any Indians, with the exception of their servants (of course) (Kurinan 44). They seek to make Britain in India, rather than accepting and glorifying the resident cultures. They remain strangers to it, practically living in a separate country they provided for themselves, yet ruling one that they remained aloof from (Eldridge 170). This is the Englishman or woman who feels that without British rule everything will fall to ruin and chaos, anarchy being the ruling class in their stead (Kurinan 33). This is also the class that Albert Memmi, author of The Colonizer and the Colonized (and a former colonized citizen himself), calls the “colonizer who accepts” (45). It is the colonizer who accepts his or her given role as ruler and god over the colonized people. Memmi supports Orwell's idea of the role they play by stating that “the colonizer must assume the opaque rigidity and imperviousness of stone. In short, he must dehumanize himself as well (xxvii).” Those who accept the role of the British administrator lose a part of themselves in the process, becoming an actor instead of a man, doing what is expected, not what is right.

Forster picks up on this idea as well. Ronny Healsop is the character that exemplifies the ruling class of the nineteenth century British colonizers. He fulfills the characteristics of the administrative class. He adopts the aloof and chilly manner that was characteristic, caring only about his superiority over the Indians and his evenings at the club with his own kind (Kurinan 43). He shows his callousness and robotic adherence to his role as magistrate in India in an argument with his mother.

‘We're out here to do justice and keep the peace. Them's my sentiments. India isn't a drawing room.'

‘You're sentiments are those of a god,' she said quietly, but it was his manner rather than his sentiments that annoyed her.

Trying to recover his temper, he said, ‘India likes gods.'

‘And Englishmen like posing as gods.'

‘There's no point in all this. Here we are, and we're going to stop, and the country's got to put up with us, gods or no gods. . . .I am out here to work, mind, to hold this wretched country by force. I'm not a missionary or a Labour Member or a vague sentimental sympathetic literary man. I'm just a servant of the Government. . . .We're not pleasant in India, and we don't intend to be pleasant. We've something more important to do' (51-52).

Ronny dehumanizes himself with his constant ravings about having more important things to do in India than being pleasant to the “natives.” He puts himself up as a god, only there for justice and to hold the country together by force. He sheds any ideas of sentiment and in doing so shows how such ideas are looked upon with derision by the ruling class of the colony.

Adela, Ronny's intended fiancée, recognizes this loss of humanity in him from his arguments. She thinks about his manner and it upsets her that “he did rub it in that he was not in India to behave pleasantly, and derived positive satisfaction therefrom! . . .The traces of young-man humanitarianism sloughed” (52). What she doesn't realize is that Ronny is merely accepting his role as Orwell's “conventionalized figure of a sahib” and Memmi's typical colonizer: harsh and cold with no time or inclination toward sentiment.

Adela Quested is troubled by this conventionalized role. She comes to India to see its wonders and to connect with its people. Her first moments of seeing Ronny are telling because they show her reluctance to take upon herself the role of the British administrative archetype. She marvels at how he has changed and how unsympathetic he is to those he rules over. This idea is something that haunts her as she continually struggles with the role she must take on if she marries Ronny and remains in India. She has a hard time reconciling the notion of the India she sees with that she must be apart of. “In front, like a shutter, fell a vision of her married life. She and Ronny would look into the club like this every evening, then drive home to dress; they would see the Lesleys and the Callenders and the Turtons and the Burtons, and invite them and be invited by them while the true India slid by unnoticed” (48).

Adela does not wish to be a part of the society that Ronny is so fond of. She even goes so far as to ask an Indian about how she can avoid becoming as the other women, something that no other British woman would do.

As she rejects her role as actress in the British imperial play, Adela becomes Memmi's “colonizer who refuses” (19), becoming contemptible in the sight of the English society of India. Those who did not accept this role were viewed as the enemy in the imperial point of view. Memmi points out that those who enter the colonies must accept or go home. There is no middle ground. Those who show signs of humanitarian romanticism are viewed as the worst of all dangers and are on the side of the enemy (20). Adela's thoughts are always viewed as naive and idealistic, but everyone has faith that she will fit in in time. The British laugh at her notions of wanting to see the real India that they try to shut out every day, but they figure that she will fall in line in the end. But what happens if she doesn't?

Adela's refusal to pursue charges against Aziz when she realizes her folly in accusing him of attempted molestation leaves her ostracized. She rejects the role of imperialist colonizer and must live with the consequences. Those who were once her greatest supporters, fawning over her illness and pretending to be so caring and concerned, now become her most vehement enemies. Memmi observed that those colonizers who felt their ideas were betrayed became vicious (21). As Adela found out after her acquitting remarks on Aziz's behalf, her friends turned against her, her superiors denounced her, and even Ronny left her. Adela realizes that if she doesn't choose to wear the mask of imperialism that “one belongs nowhere and becomes a public nuisance without realizing it. . . .I speak of India. I am not astray in ” (291). One key element of her statement is that she is only a nuisance in India. Memmi asserts that those who are good cannot stay in the colony (21). The best of people must leave because they cannot accept the consequences of their remaining as a colonist. This idea also shows that these changes in character are only exhibited in India. The English in England share differing opinions and ideas. They are not caught in the play as the colonists are and so it shows that a definite change exists between leaving England and acclimatizing to India. Therefore, Adela, although cast out from the imperial administrative class of , may remain unchanged and return to.

The last character I want to examine is that of Fielding. Fielding takes on the role of the colonizer who refuses, but he takes a different path than Adela. Instead of leaving he turns to the colonized for support. Fielding always connects with the Indians. He has no qualms about speaking to them or visiting them in their homes, even visiting Aziz when he falls ill. He doesn't frequent “the club,” because he doesn't share all of the same opinions that the ruling English colonizers do. Fielding also realizes the truth that the real India lays not in the British imperial scope, but in the Indians themselves. When Adela is expressing her desires to see the real India, Ronny asks Fielding how one sees the “real India.” Fielding's answer is “Try seeing Indians” (25). This question results in many of the people at the club talking about how they see too many Indians and too often. This comment about seeing the real India through its people, however, shows a definite sympathy with a conquered people, more than any of the other British people were willing to show at any point.

Fielding takes his rejection of the imperialist nature so far as to support and defend the natives against his own people. When Aziz is accused of assault on Adela, Fielding is the first to come to his aid, forsaking his own people. He even defiles the sanctity of the club, choosing it to be his battle ground and denouncing his own people and the play that they have chosen to act in. He makes a very bold statement to the amazement of his fellow British subjects. He declares, “I believe Dr. Aziz to be innocent. . . . If he is guilty I resign from my service, and leave India. I resign from the club now” (210). He completely rejects his people in their chosen sanctuary, defiling their temple of Britishness and becoming their number one enemy. He is immediately denounced as he rejects this role of imperial aristocrat for benevolent humanitarian. He refuses the mask and doesn't just walk away from it, as Adela must eventually do, but he stomps on it. He in no way forsakes his British heritage, but he realizes that friendship is possible with the Indians, and he is willing to fight for his cause. He becomes the moral hero to the Indians, a quality that Memmi says is important to his acceptance into their confidence. But, Memmi also states that Fielding cannot completely join them because above all he is still British and therefore holds the same ideas and prejudices that he grew up with (45). That is unavoidable because, after all, Fielding is still a British citizen, something that can't be erased.

In the end Fielding does turn back to his own people, marrying an English girl, but I think it is significant that he returns to England to find this girl, who is connected with Miss Quested and Mrs. Moore, the two idealistic characters in the novel. Fielding becomes more of a part of the imperial society with his marriage ties, but he remains free of the change that occurs in the colonies by making his match away from India. He stays free of the role of imperial actor and continues on with his notions of friendship and peace with the Indian people. I assert that Forster presented Fielding as an example of how to resist the imperial Indian machine and yet still maintain his British culture. Fielding is the most sympathetic, not wavering on his regard for the people, only realizing the differences that may lie between their personalities and cultures. When he becomes the “colonizer that refuses,” Fielding shows that resistance of the changes that come upon the colonizer is possible and that the role of imperial actor may be refused.

Imperialism was a British institution for a long time. It brought British people in contact with many cultures and peoples. It also helped them to affect a great amount of change on indigenous ways of life. The images and accounts of the brutality and callousness of the Imperial administrators are legendary and will always be the most examined part of its long stretch until its fall in the twentieth century. These effects on the native cultures are important, as are the accounts of their plights, however now we can see that Imperialism and colonization didn't only affect the colonized, but that it had an effect on the colonizer as well. Aimé Césaire stated that “colonial activity, colonial enterprise, colonial conquest, which is based on contempt for the nature and justified by that contempt, inevitable tends to change him who undertakes it” (20). Living the life of imperialism has its stamp. It can't help but have it. As George Orwell insinuated, it is a play, and the imperial citizens and administrators were actors, trying to play their parts as demi-gods with great confidence and authority (Kuinan 55). When any person did not live up to the art of performance, they either returned to England or joined in the plight of the native, being ostracized from their “people“.

Forster presents a picture of this Imperial England. A Passage to India provides a perfect stage in which to watch the action play out among those who accept their role and those who rebel, whether knowingly or not. His portrayal of the characters Ronny, Adela, and Fielding show the three different types of colonizers that Memmi observed in his own life as a suppressed “native.” Each character portrays a different situation and mind set, demonstrating the different alternatives in the colonial/imperial life. Through these characters we truly see the effects that imperialism had on not only the colonized, but also the colonizer, showing that no one is immune.

Works Cited

Césaire, Aimé. Discourse on Colonialism. Trans. Joan Pinkham. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1972.

Eldrige, C. C. The Imperial Experience: From Carlyle to Forster. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996.

Forster, E. M. A Passage to . New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1924.

Gladwin, Thomas, and Ahmad Saidin. Slaves of the White Myth. Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1980.

Kurinan, V. G. The Lords of Humankind. Boston: Little, Brown, & Co., 1969.

Memmi, Albert. The Colonizer and the Colonized. Boston: Beacon Press, 1965.

Orwell, George. A Collection of Essays. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanoich, 1946.


A Passage To India


"East is east and West is west, and never the twain shall meet." The British poet Rudyard Kipling who was born in India in 1865 and lived there for several years as an adult, once wrote. This quote was written long before E.M Forester wrote the novel "A Passage to India" in 1924, but gives the understanding of the general theme of the novel. That the people of the east and west cultures will never be able to be one in unison or have an understanding for the other culture, nation and people. The novel "A Passage to India" explores the relations of two cultures people: the Indians and the English. "A Passage to India", begins and ends with a question - Can the English and Indian races be friends? and, at the end of the novel, the answer is evident, "No, not yet". The novel follows a doctor by the name of Dr. Aziz and the consequences he endures when he attempts to be decent to the English, his subsequent arrest, trial and final anti-English sentiments, is mainly constructed around this question. Throughout the novel the barriers to inter-racial friendship in a colonial context are explored, and personally experienced by Mr. Fielding and Aziz. The author Edward Morgan Forster's clearly emphasizes the monarchy of the personal and the individual, rather than the social and political relations. A slogan that was first used and coined in the 1960's can be used to create an understanding of this novel that "the personal is political, the political is personal". After reading the novel this slogan can be seen to apply perfectly for the novel as Aziz learns that politics and friendship do not intermingle between the native Indians and imperialist, colonist English. Throughout the novel A Passage to India we see a great culture clash between the Indians and English. The Indians have resentful feelings toward the British as they are in political and social power. The Indians are being looked down upon and reprimanded in their own homeland. The cause for this..


Passage to India and Orientalism

Summary: A Passage to India by E. M. Forster and the relationship with the notion of orientalism is compared to when, in 1978, Edward W. Said published his book Orientalism. It presented a turning point in post-colonial criticism.

A Passage To India And Orientalism

 When in 1978 Edward W. Said published his book Orientalism, it presented a turning point in post-colonial criticism. He introduced the term Orientalism, and talked about 2 of its aspects: the way the West sees the Orient and the way the West controls the Orient. Said gave three definitions of Orientalism, and it is through these definitions that I will try to demonstrate how A Passage to India by E. M. Forster is an Orientalist text. First, Said defined Orientalism as an academic discipline, which flourished in 18th and 19th century.

Anyone who teaches, writes about, or researches the Orient - and this applies whether the person is an anthropologist, sociologist, historian, or philologist - either in its specific or its general aspects, is an Orientalist, and what he or she does is Orientalism. (2)

Second, in Said's own words "Orientalism is a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made between "the Orient" and (most of the time) "the Occident"" (2). And now we come to Said's third definition of Orientalism:

Here I come to the third meaning of Orientalism, which is something more historically and materially defined than either of the other two. Taking the late  eighteenth century as a very roughly defined starting point Orientalism can be discussed and analysed as the corporate institution for dealing with the Orient - dealing with it by making statements about it, authorising views of it, describing it, teaching it, settling it, ruling over it: in short, Orientalism as a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient. (3)

In the novel Forster himself uses the term Orientalist through his character Dr Aziz. The first time that Dr Aziz uses this term is when speaking to Mrs Moore, who came to India escorting Miss Adela. Dr Aziz recognized in Mrs Moore a person who has an ability to recognize whom she likes and dislikes and a person who does not categorize people and does not label them. By using the term Orientalist, Dr Aziz is complimenting Mrs Moore:

He was excited partly by his wrongs, but much more by the knowledge that someone sympathised with them. It was this that led him to repeat, exaggerate, contradict. She had proved her sympathy by criticizing her fellow countrywomen to him, but even earlier he had known. The flame that not even beauty can nourish was springing up, and though his words were querulous his heart began to glow secretly. Presently it burst into speech.

'You understand me, you know what I feel. Oh, if others resembled you!'

Rather surprised, she replied: 'I don't think I understand people very well. I only know whether I like or dislike them.' 'Then you are an Oriental.' (17)

In the wish to see the real India and to explore it, not merely like other tourist do but to discover the real essence of India, we can see elements of Said's first definition of Orientalism.

The third act of Cousin Kate was well advanced by the time Mrs Moore re-entered the Club. Windows were barred, lest the servants should see their memsahibs acting, and the heat was consequently immense. One electric fan revolved like a wounded bird, another was out of order. Disinclined to return to the audience, she went into the billiard-room, where she was greeted by 'I want to see the real India,'

and her appropriate life came back with a rush. This was Adela Quested, the queer, cautious girl whom Ronny had commissioned her to bring from England, and Ronny was her son, also cautious, whom Miss Quested would probably though not certainly marry, and she herself was an elderly lady.

'I want to see it too, and I only wish we could. Apparently the Turtons will arrange something for next Tuesday.'

'It'll end in an elephant ride, it always does. Look at this evening. Cousin Kate!

Imagine, Cousin Kate! But where have you been off to? Did you succeed in catching the moon in the Ganges?' (18)

Mrs Moore and Miss Adela may not be scientists but have still come to India to learn about it and to research it in a way.

The elements of Said's second definition of Orientalism can be found throughout the novel. I decided to focus on one of the major themes in the novel, and that is the possibility of friendship between and Englishman and an Indian. We are introduced to this topic at the very beginning, and from a different angle then we might be used to.

Ralph Wright illustrated that in his review:

The opening of the book is admirably planned. We are shown a group of educated Indians discussing quite calmly whether or not friendship with an Englishman is

possibility. We are used to this discussion the other way on; and the dispassionateness of the shifted angle sets the tone of the book from the outset. The conversation is desultory. It is not, one feels a set piece of propaganda. The characters are not speaking to an audience and there are no points to score. And almost at once one falls into Mr Forster's mood of refusing to score a point for either side, of realizing that there is an interest in people for their own sake and not

as representatives of political idealisms or commercial forces. (222)

It is stated in the novel that a friendship between an Englishmen and an Indian is possible in England, but not in India, and that all English people become the same after a while living in India. At least that is how they are perceived in the novel by the Indians:

'I only contend that it is possible in England,' replied Hamidullah, who had been to that county years ago, before the big rush, and had received a cordial welcome at Cambridge.

'It is impossible here. Aziz! The red-nosed boy has again insulted me in court. I do not blame him. He was told that he ought to insult me. Until lately he was quite

a nice boy, but the others have got hold of him.'

'Yes, they have no chance here, that is my point. They come out intending to be gentlemen, and are told it will not do. Look at Lesley. look at Blakiston, now it is

your red-nosed boy, and Fielding will go next. Why, I remember when Turton came out first. It was in another part of the Province. You fellows will not believe

me, but I have driven with Turton in his carriage - Turton! Oh, yes, we were once quite intimate. He has shown me his stamp collection.'

'He would expect you to steal it now. Turton! But red-nosed boy will be far worse than Turton!'

'I don't think so. They all become exactly the same - not worse, not better. I give any Englishman two years, be he Turton or Burton. It is only difference of a letter.

And I give any Englishwoman six months. All are exactly alike. Do you not agree with me?' (6)

And finally, the growing hatred between the English and the Indians is visible after Aziz's trial. We can see how a wrongful accusation can separate people and cause an unbridgeable gap between two people, and two nations. I. P. Fasset described it in the following passage:

So Miss Quested and Dr Aziz, two earnest workers for mutual understanding between English and Indians, find themselves the chief figures in a more than usually violent white men-versus-Indian disturbance. A temporary illusion of imminent co-operation and good feeling is of course dispelled. There is a fantastic trial, at the crisis of which Miss Quested states that she can make no accusation against Aziz: the man who insulted her may have been an hallucination. After the excitement caused by the trial has died down, the Public School Englishmen sink back into complacency and condemn the Indians as-well-niggers, and the educated Indians see the English more clearly than ever as double-faced tyrants, the instigators of vile and complicated plots. Doctor Aziz and a certain Mr Fielding, the best of the Englishmen, find that their personal friendship which they have prized so highly, and for which they had worked so hard, is irrevocably destroyed.

Aziz retreats into unanglised India, where Brahmanism flourishes and the schools are used as storehouses for grain. India is his country, and India shall one day be united as one nation and throw off the English yoke. (274)

In Forster's A Passage to India we recognize certain elements that can be seen as Orientalist. According to Edward Said's definitions of Orientalism I tried to point out some of these Orientalist elements. However, there are many more examples in the novel which would also fit in the Orientalist frames set by Said.

Works Cited

Fasset, I. P. Rev. of A Passage to India, by E. M. Forster. Criterion October 9, 1924

Forster, Edward Morgan. A Passage to India. London: Penguin Books. 1979.

Hartley, Leslie Poles. Rev of A Passage to India, by E. M. Forster. Spectator June 28, 1924.

Said, Edward W. Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books Edition. 1979.