A Case for Umbrellas: Examining Practicality in Howards End College
At the end of the Victorian era and into the modern age, everything seemed to be up for debate, including deepest held values. A strong clash was particularly felt between the social and economic classes. The upper class, with the security of wealth, clung to intellectualism and idealistic virtues. The lower classes, without the luxury of financial security, were forced to focus on earning their living. For those in the middle classes, the modern age created an environment of struggle between wanting to improve oneself intellectually but also providing for oneself financially. E.M. Forster wedged his novel Howards End into this age of conflicting values. His characters are forced to grapple with these changing values, particularly the character Leonard Bast, a lower-middle class insurance sales clerk who attempts to better himself. In an encounter with the upper-class Schlegel family, Leonard seeks intellectual stimulation as a way to escape his social and economic disparity. While Leonard may play the part of an intellectual for a short time, in the end, he always returns to practical matters. He cannot evade the survival instinct to keep bread on the table, no matter how wonderful the intellectual world seems. Howards End...
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