A Study of the Depiction of Characters in E.M. Forster’s Book, A Passage to India

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How are the characters in A Passage to India represented?

A Passage to India, reveals that most characters are round characters who have the capacity for development. This is similar to human beings because people do change with time and Forster tries to build authentic characters. By presenting such intense characters, the fact that he is a good observer of human psychology is underlined.

Forster believes that a “proper mixture of characters” is very important for a novel. It is a means for people to understand the philosophy of life when as they go along the pages of the novel. Readers can identify with Forster’s characters. He is among the few writers who are really able to portray real life human characteristics into a work of fiction and he even creates, in the plot, a space to explore human characteristics.

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Forster uses Aziz as a scapegoat and as a focus for the hostility between the two communities. Although Mrs. Moore and Godbole are not essential for the plot, they remain significant characters who reflect symbolism. Mrs. Moore’s “poor little talkative Christianity” is seen as being ultimately vulnerable to the echo of the Marabar Caves but her spirit and body live on as a healing presence in the third section of the novel. Godbole’s Hinduism can accept both muddle and mystery. Thoughtful and brave, Adela and Fielding seemed to be ideal to being the hero and heroine of Forster’s earlier novels since they reflect liberal values. Yet, our final image of them together, is of “dwarfs shaking hands.”

Furthermore, Forster uses a traditional method of writing that was much used by writers of the 18th and 19th Centuries. He employs an omniscient narrator who overviews the action and can even enter minds as dissimilar as Dr. Aziz and Ronny. This narrator has a distinctive voice and function. He is humane, cultured and at the same time ironic. He sets the tone for each section. For example, the opening chapter of the novel gives us an overview of Chandrapore and its distinctive natural and social geography. The omniscient narrator also welcomes the reader to a new journey of self-exploration through the ‘passage to India’ but the complexity of this journey is underlined when readers cannot decide whether India is a mystery or a muddle.

Finally, Forster is a successful novelist in that he was able to describe on paper the deep impression that India left on him using several techniques he thinks are important aspects of the novel. Through his characters and through his narrative technique, he was able to present India’s “formlessness” which existed since the time India was under the British rule.

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