When Howards End was published in 1910, critics generally agreed it surpassed E. M. Forster's earlier novels. Forster had arrived as an important author, and the public and critics eagerly anticipated his next novel. But fourteen years would elapse before the publication of A Passage to India, which would also be the last novel published during his lifetime. Forster's novels are all considered classics, with Howards End and A Passage to India regarded as his best works. Like all of Forster's early novels, Howards End concerns itself with Edwardian society. As a member of the upper-middle class, Forster had keen insight into its attitudes and social mores, which he expertly rendered in Howards End. His humanistic values and interest in personal relationships inform all of his novels, and are revealed in the major themes of Howards End: connection between the inner and outer life and between people, the future of England, and class conflicts. Howards End has been called a parable; indeed, its symbolism reaches almost mythic proportions at various points in the novel. Although elements of the plot construction have been problematic for some critics, opinion of his character creation and development is almost unanimously given the highest praise. With Margaret Schlegel, Henry Wilcox, Helen Schlegel, and Leonard Bast, Forster created some of the most unforgettable and complex characters in English literature.
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