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In this epic tale of social change and struggle, masterful author E.M. Forster weaves together the distinct stories of three different families, each representing separate social classes. The Wilcoxes are a family of rich capitalists who made a fortune in trade; the half-German Schlegel family represents the intellectual, idealistic bourgeoisie; and the Bast couple embodies the difficulties of the lower-middle class. But these three families are anything but separate—in fact, much drama stems from the sometimes messy, murderous, and illicit relationships they have with each other. At the start of the novel, the romance between Helen Schlegel and Paul Wilcox has ended bitterly with Paul’s rejection of Helen. The Schlegels vow to avoid the materialist, mean-spirited Wilcox family, but Helen’s sister Margaret finds herself developing a genuine friendship with Mrs. Ruth Wilcox. Ruth comes to admire Margaret, for she shares her reverence of the house at Howard’s End, which is rich with personal history. In a surprising move, Ruth bequeaths Howard’s End to Margaret Schlegel instead of her own family members—who are irate. As Forster explores the grave repercussions of this unexpected move, he underscores the novel’s central message: connecting with others.
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One of the greats of twentieth century British literature, E.M. Forster (1879-1970) was well-known in his day for his novels, short stories, and essays. In his pages we read of the essential dilemmas that the everyman and everywoman must face as they enter modern society. Urging honesty, courage, and human connection to his readers, Forster's own life was, interestingly, one of public renown and privately-held secrets. Along with his most notable works, A Room With a View, Howards End, Where Angels Fear to Tread, and A Passage to India, Forster's posthumously-published novel Maurice, about the experiences of a young man coming to terms with his own homosexuality, is thought to be somewhat autobiographical.Back to top
Opening Lines (Experimental)
One may as well begin with Helen's letters to her sister.
It isn't going to be what we expected. It is old and little, and altogether delightful--red brick. We can scarcely pack in as it is, and the dear knows what will happen when ...
Ratings for 'Howards End' by Forster, E.M.