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A Passage To India:An Examination Of The Work In A Historical Context

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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, Where Angels Fear to Tread was published in 1905 and was received with good reviews. By the publication of his fourth novel, Howard's End in 1910 Forster had become a member of what was known in writing circles as the Bloomsbury Group, a distinguished group of writers including Virginia Wolf, John Maynard Keynes, and many others. In 1912 Forster made his first visit to India; and in 1021 after having served for the Red Cross in Egypt during world war one, he returned to India to be the private secretary to the Maharajah of Dewas. Forster based A Passage to India on the experiences he had while working for the Maharajah.

The world of Colonial India was much different than that of England at the time, or of the India of today. The country was ruled by the British military. British patriots and ex-patriots living in India had a culture all there own; they were not at all oppressors but did have a completely different culture than the indigenous peoples of the country. The British did not understand Indian religion or cultural tradition, and much like settlers in the United States did with Native American, the British treated the Indians like a nearly savage people who needed to be tamed. This attitude becomes apparent in chapter 3 when the magistrate of Chandrapore, Ronnie Heaslop, says of the British that they "are out here to do justice and keep the peace." Or when the text describes his duty in a passage that directly follows Ronnie's quote: "Every day he worked hard in the court trying to decide which of two untrue account was the less untrue, trying to dispense justice fearlessly, to protect the weak against the less weak, the incoherent against the plausible, surrounded by lies and flattery."

The work chronicles the experiences of the elderly Mrs. Moore and Adela Quested, (her travel companion and the girl Mrs. Moore plans to offer to her son, Ronny Heaslop, for engagement.) The two visit India looking for a more cultural experience even though they are closely related to the British element in Chandrapore (the city they are visiting). In the text there are trials and tribulations that end with the city and its inhabitants being changed forever. The novel addresses many issues that were affecting Western



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