Henry Wilcox, a prosperous British businessman who has his fair share of domestic bliss and trouble. He owns Howards End, a country home near London, and it is here that the climactic scenes in the novel take place. At the end of his life, he wills Howards End to his second wife, with the understanding that after her death it is to go to the illegitimate child of his second wife’s daughter.
Ruth Wilcox, Wilcox’s first wife and Margaret Schlegel’s good friend. She becomes ill and dies suddenly after writing a note that leaves Howards End to Margaret. Because the note was not part of the formal will, Wilcox and the rest of the family disregard it.
Helen Schlegel, the sister of Wilcox’s second wife, who provides much of the continuity of the novel’s narrative line. She at one time loved Wilcox’s younger son. She has a child by a man Wilcox caused to lose his job. It is her baby that Wilcox learns to love just before his death.
Margaret Schlegel, Wilcox’s second wife. She is cool, sensible, cautious. She is a good friend to Wilcox’s first wife; it was, in fact, to Margaret that Wilcox’s first wife willed Howards End just before she died. Margaret is a faithful wife to Wilcox and a good sister to Helen.
Leonard Bast, a poor, reasonably...
(The entire section is 434 words.)