This excerpt from E. M. Forster’s novel A Passage to India, is fictional, as well as modernist. The purpose of this essay is to enlighten the reader about the relationship between elements of Forster’s fiction and its modern perspective. The essay will show the reader of the complex and sparse characterization, as well as the interior plot which is exclusive to modern novels. It will also analyze the language used in the excerpt, the tone, the imagery, and symbolism that is expressed by the narrator during the above passage. The significance of setting and narration will also be brought to light in the essay, as well as why they affect the relationship between Foster’s fiction and its modern perspective.
Mrs. Moore, the woman who is inside the fictional Marabar Cave, is not characterized directly by the narrator. We, the readers, learn nothing about her based on physical characterization, rather we learn, partially, about Mrs. Moore and her ultimate decision through her thoughts, also known as interior monologue. This way of characterizing is the crux of modern characterization. If the readerwere to merely look at what the narrator is saying then he/she will not know a single thing about Mrs. Moore, but once we delve into the interior monologue we can learn a whole lot more. ‘“Pathos, piety, courage—they exist, but are identical, and so is filth. Everything exists, nothing has value.”’These are the thoughts that have leaked into the head of the ‘religious’ Mrs. Moore. We can derive from this that Mrs. Moore is having a crisis about religion, she is struggling to hold on, and doubt is beginning to seep into her mind. The way we know she is a religious lady is because of what it says a few sentences later, “If one had spoken with the tongues of angels… the serpent would descend and return to the ceiling. Devils are of the North, and poems can be written about them”, these are the words and language of a religious person, for it is referring to text written in the Bible. This is the core of the interior monologue, analyzing what is being said via the characters thoughts, as well as the narrator’s words, which differ from the author’s beliefs.
The plot and setting seems to be basic, Mrs. Moore is currently inside a cave, all alone, with only her echo, or as the narrator puts it, “ou-boum”. Foster chose to express the plot and setting to be basic, in order for the reader to look deeper and realize how this is a modern novel. We need not analyze the plot and setting, but rather analyze the interior plot and the symbolism of the setting, for that is how Foster creates the relationship between standard fiction and modernism.
The plot of this excerpt appears to be about Mrs. Moore, who is stuck in a cave and slowly giving up hope. But you need to read between the lines, you need to look into the interior plot. In order to do as such, we must first analyze the Marabar Cave. This cave not only creates the setting, but is also part of the underlining theme of the tone – doubt. The cave represents life, a grim life, filled with doubt and uncertainty. Once we know that we can look at the interior plot. A Passage to India was set in 1924 where England had colonized India, but there were some issues with regards to religion. There were Muslims, Hindus, and Christians, the citizens were confused, and uncertain about religion. This uncertainty is evident in the last sentence, “Then she was terrified… she didn’t want to write to her children, didn’t want to communicate with anyone, not even with God.” She feared all this confusion that finally, she gave up with religion, with people, even with her family. Mrs. Moore went through an existential crisis, although it doesn’t say that, it is evident through the interior plot.
The tone throughout the excerpt is very grim, and creates a mood of doubt. “But suddenly, at the edge of her mind, Religion appeared, poor little talkative Christianity, and she knew that all its divine words from, “Let there be Light” to “It is finished”, only amounted to “boum.””. Mrs. Moore has come to the gloomy conclusion that there is no religion, that everything she has believed in has “only amounted to “boum.””, amounted to a simple echo, from pastor, to preacher, to congregant, it was all for nothing.
Narrators in modernist novels are not very involved in the story, the emphasis is rather on the characters thoughts and perceptions. A modern narrator lets the reader follow the character through her thoughts, instead of telling readers what to think about the events. This style allows the reader to feel a more personal connection not only to the character, but also to the narrator, due to the fact that they are both observing the characters development. Such is the case in the excerpt from a Passage to India. The narrator speaks throughout the second paragraph, but tells us what’s going on in the mind of Mrs. Moore, and her thoughts, especially the thoughts of her epiphany, such is the style of modernist novels.
Foster has really tapped into the very essence of modern novels. He has used the particular and unique approach to character and plot. Foster has also correctly utilized the narrator, and made the perfect balance between the narrator and the thoughts of Mrs. Moore. Interior monologue was used as well through the excerpt which is truly a key feature of modern novels. Foster has really made an unbelievable balance between the elements of fiction, and modern perspective.
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