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What does E. M. Forster imply in his novel Where Angels Fear to Tread?  What was his...

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merriem | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 26, 2009 at 12:53 AM via web

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What does E. M. Forster imply in his novel Where Angels Fear to Tread?  What was his purpose?

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 1, 2010 at 12:56 PM (Answer #1)

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E. M. Forster loved to write about English people going to foreign countries and being profoundly impacted by them in significant ways.  In Where Angels Fear to Tread, that foreign country is Italy, as it is in his other novel, A Room With a View.  In Passage to India, the foreign country is India. In all of these novels, rather well-to-do English people travel to these other countries where life is lived so differently, and they have experiences that change them forever.  In Where Angels Fear to Tread, it is several characters who are changed by Italy.  The most obvious is Lilia, who, while travelling there, impulsively marries a local Italian.  She realizes soon after that it was a mistake, and eventually dies in childbirth.  Her companion, Miss Abbot, who goes back to Italy later, is so moved by the people, the scenes, and by the infamous Gino himself, that she feels she can never go back to her life as it was before.  Phillip, always a fan of Italy, is completely converted into loving the Miss Abbot, and realizes that she too has been moved by this strange country.  All of these English characters, who were so used to living restrained, quiet, and often insincere lives, were moved by Italy's lack of restraint and total sincerity.

The undercurrent behind all of these people being changed by experiences outside of England is one of a bit of disdain for England's ways.  He seems to be indirectly mocking English people for their silly fixation on appearances, class and propriety.  He implies that true life and beauty are found in passion, open honesty, living life to its fullest and most intense, and casting aside manners, societal restraints, and the often too-polite and constrained English mannerisms that kept many of them living unhappy and unfulfilled life.  He loved to take that stuffy type of English person and throw "real" life at them, and show the impact it had; this seems to imply that he felt that there was more to life than his native England and her ways seemed to offer.  He used travel, tourism, and his own extensive knowledge of Europe and India to convey these points.  I hope that those thoughts helped a bit; good luck!

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