role of women
A Passage to India Questions
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the role of women in A passage to India
"The role of women is another theme of the novel, and Forster presents many separate points of view. Mr. Turton sees women as a bother and thinks ruling India would be a much cleaner exercise without any females present. Aziz sees women largely as something to idolize, as evidenced in his reaction to Mrs. Moore and to his dead wife. Ronny sees women as something to be used; he never loves Adela, but plans to marry her for convenience and personal comfort. Indian women are meant to serve their men, selflessly and without question. Ironically, the climax of the story revolves around Adela, a young British woman who claims she has been sexually assaulted by Aziz, an Indian. As a result of her powerful claim that makes her the center of attention, the British ruling officials go after Aziz with a vengeance to right the wrong against womanhood. When Adela admits in the trial that Aziz has not followed her into the caves, the British turn against her, for she no longer serves them any purpose; the other British women are the most unmerciful to her. The Indians hate her for what she has done to Aziz; the feelings of the Indian women are the most intense of all."
In addition to race, gender also divides colonial society . British colonial society in India, made up as it is of administrators and their wives, is not exactly English society in miniature – it tends to aggravate whatever is most conservative and traditional about English culture, including a traditional attitude toward women as the much weaker sex. The stereotypical idea is that Englishwomen need white knights in shining armor to save them from lusting Orientals; thus Adela, as an Englishwoman, needs to be saved from Aziz by Englishmen. Englishwomen further demonstrate their weakness by being far more racist than their men: a character like Mrs. Turton doesn't have the benefit of her husband's education or civic-mindedness. On the other hand, British colonial society dismisses the Indian practice of purdah, or of segregating women from men, as backwards and unenlightened.
Despite its criticism of the British colonial attitude toward women, A Passage to India seems to harbor sexist attitudes. In fact, some critics have argued that female characters such as Adela and Aziz's wife are reduced to pawns who are exchanged between men to establish relationships between men, excluding the possibility of equal relationships between men and women
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