Howards End

Outside the Drawing Room 12th Grade

Few subjects seem better suited for traditional Victorian drawing room conversation than that of social class. Written in 1910, E.M. Forster’s Howards End has just enough Victorian influence to concern itself with the struggles of social class, while simultaneously being just Edwardian enough for Forster to peer out of the drawing room into England’s future. Throughout the novel, Forster contrasts the wealthy Schlegel and Wilcox families with the economically struggling Basts. Forster gradually intertwines the three families, blurring social lines and using their ultimate confluence to represent the hope of a kind of classless Utopia in England’s future.

The Schlegel and Wilcox families both represent the privileged upper class, with their main contrast being in ideology. While the Schlegels adhere to liberal, emotionally driven ideas based on art and literature, the Wilcoxes represent a more traditional, materialistic background. Margaret summarizes these ideological differences, remarking of the Wilcoxes, “Personal relations, that we think supreme, are not supreme there. There love means marriage settlements, death, death duties” (18). From the beginning, the Wilcox family is obviously associated with money, with Helen...

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