Howards End

Public School Mentality in Howards End and Passage to India

Examine the importance of public-school mentality in Howards End and A Passage to India

The public-school system remains unique because it was created by the Anglo-Saxon middle classes - how perfectly it expresses their character - with its boarding houses, its compulsory games, its system of prefects and fagging, its insistence on good form and on esprit de corps - </br>

(E.M. Forster, 'Notes on the English Character', 1936.)

Forster perceived the public-school system to be at the centre of the English middle-classes, defining their set of core values and moulding their behaviour. He was particularly intrigued by the notion of emotional repression being indoctrinated into public-school pupils, and the effects of this 'stiff upper lip' mentality is keenly considered in both Howards End and A Passage to India. While several of his male protagonists unquestionably display solidity and efficiency, their lack of imagination and inclination towards hypocrisy inevitably undermine any potentially positive characteristics. Their personal relationships with others are consequently affected, and in A Passage to India the failure of Anglo-Saxon relations is significantly contributed to by the small-minded selfishness of...

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