Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Dr. Aziz (ah-ZEEZ), an amiable, sensitive, and intelligent young Moslem doctor in Chandrapore, India. Ignored and snubbed by the English colony, he nevertheless becomes friendly with three English newcomers to India—Mr. Fielding, Mrs. Moore, and Miss Quested. When he takes them on a tour of the sinister Marabar Caves, Miss Quested becomes separated from the party, and later she accuses him of attempted rape. Jailed and humiliated, he becomes markedly anti-British. After Miss Quested withdraws her charge at his trial, he wants to collect damages, but Fielding dissuades him. Suspicious of Fielding’s motives, he breaks off the friendship. Two years later, the two men meet again, and each realizes that any true communion between them is impossible because of their racial allegiances.
Cecil Fielding, the principal of the Government College, a middle-aged, maverick intellectual who resists the herd instinct of his fellow Englishmen. He has Indian friends; he defends Aziz against the English bigots, and when Miss Quested is ostracized after the trial, he offers her the protection of his home. Tired of the whole situation, he takes a trip to England, marries, and then returns to India, where he finds Aziz less cordial than before.
Adela Quested, a priggish young woman who goes to India to marry Ronald Heaslop; she announces...
(The entire section is 707 words.)
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A small, athletic, mustachioed, amiable, sensitive, and intelligent young Muslim doctor at Chandrapore, Aziz comes forth as a highly competent professional, but possessed of a naive, romantic streak that manifests itself in his love for poetry, his excitability, and his general passion for life. Aziz, a vivacious and charming widower with three children, respects courtesy and protocol. He tries terribly hard to convey a good impression upon, and establish a relationship with, the English community, but the English simply ignore and snub him. However, he manages some degree of rapport with Cyril Fielding, Mrs. Moore, and Adela Quested. Aziz arranges a tour for the English to the mysterious Marabar Caves; Adela becomes separated from the rest of the party and later accuses Aziz of rape. Jailed and thoroughly humiliated, Aziz develops an intense hatred for the British, and following the dismissal of the charges against him, he thinks only of collecting damages. Fielding persuades him against doing so, which arouses distrust in Aziz and leads to a break in their relationship. Two years later, Fielding and Aziz meet again, and each realizes that because of their deep racial and cultural divisions, any honest communion between them cannot be achieved.
Cyril Fielding, who functions as the popular principal of the Government College at Chadrapore, comes forth as a middle-aged intellectual maverick with "sprawling limbs and blue eyes" who, seemingly rejects the...
(The entire section is 1450 words.)
A young doctor who is the central Indian character in the novel, Dr. Aziz is a Moslem and a widower. His three children live with his wife's mother. He is described as "an athletic little man, daintily put together but really very strong." He works at the government hospital in Chandrapore, under the supervision of Major Callendar. In addition to his practical skill as a doctor, he also has a romantic side and writes poetry. His favorite poetic themes are "the decay of Islam and the brevity of Love." Although he is thoroughly Indian, he idealizes the cultures of Persia and Arabia, where the Islamic faith originated. He regards the historical Mogul emperors of India as his models. In the early part of the novel he is disdainful of Hindus; although they are Indians, he considers them foreign. Because of his good education and respected professional situation, Aziz believes that he can be accepted by the British as almost their equal. Despite a melancholy streak, Aziz possesses a sense of humor, and hospitality is important to him. He is eager to please and impress people whom he considers kind and thoughtful, and early in the novel he especially wants to make friends with Mrs. Moore and Mr. Fielding. However, his very goodwill and his somewhat impulsive nature get him into situations that cause him trouble. ("Aziz overrated hospitality, mistaking it for intimacy, and not seeing that it is tainted with the sense of possession.") He at first wants to invite Mrs. Moore...
(The entire section is 426 words.)
Mr. Cyril Fielding
The principal of the Government College (that is, a British-run school) in Chandrapore. Fielding develops a close friendship with Dr. Aziz during the course of the novel and is the only Englishman to publicly express his belief in Aziz's innocence. In contrast to such Anglo-Indian (British) career administrators as Mr. Turton and Major Callendar, Fielding arrived in India relatively late in his life— after the age of forty. By the time he arrives in India, he has already had a "varied career." He is described as "a hard-bitten, good-tempered, intelligent fellow on the verge of middle age, with a belief in education." Because of his more easy-going and broad-minded attitudes, he is regarded with some suspicion by his fellow expatriates, especially the women. Indeed, he has no particular enthusiasm for the conventional social life of Chandrapore's Anglo-Indian community, and thus "the gulf between himself and his countrymen...widened distressingly " Moreover, he has "no racial feeling"—he regards Indians simply as people from another country, not as inferiors. He believes that people from different parts of the world can understand one another "by the help of good will plus culture and intelligence." He is "happiest in the give-and-take of private conversation." This emphasis on the importance of friendship and the personal over the professional life makes Fielding a representative of Forster's own views. In Chapter VII, Fielding gives a tea party attended by Aziz,...
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An Englishwoman who is a central figure in the book. She is the most sensitive and reflective of the English characters. An elderly widow, she is the mother of Ronny Heaslop, the Chandrapore city magistrate, by her first marriage. She also has another son, Ralph, and a daughter, Stella, by her second marriage. Mrs. Moore has recently arrived in India with Adela Quested, who is expected to marry Ronny. Mrs. Moore is introduced in Chapter II when she encounters Dr. Aziz in the mosque in Chandrapore. Dr. Aziz has gone into the mosque after his unsuccessful attempt to find Major Callendar and is startled when he discovers that a stranger—an Englishwoman—is also there. The two talk, and a friendship develops: Aziz is happy to have met an English person who is sympathetic toward him and India, while Mrs. Moore finds Aziz charming, intelligent, and interesting. (Adela Quested later tells Aziz that Mrs. Moore "learnt more about India m those few minutes' talk with you than in the three weeks since we landed.") Uncomfortable in what she considers the superficial company of the English expatriate community, Mrs. Moore decides that she wants to see "the real India." Her plans to visit two Indian women are unsuccessful, but she enjoys Mr. Fielding's tea party. At the tea party, Aziz invites Mrs. Moore, Adela, Fielding, and Professor Godbole to join him on an excursion to the Marabar Caves. (At the tea party Mrs. Moore also discusses "mysteries and muddles"; these words take...
(The entire section is 510 words.)
Miss Adela Quested
A young Englishwoman who comes to India with Mrs. Moore. She is expected to marry Mrs. Moore's son Ronny Heaslop, the Chandrapore city magistrate. Adela is a catalyst for the central dramatic events of the novel, and her behavior in these events radically affects the lives of the characters around her. Her accusation against Dr. Aziz, followed by her recantation during the trial, exposes the deep divisions between the British and Indians. On a more symbolic level, Adela may also be seen to represent most people's inability to communicate or to understand the deeper patterns and meaning of life.
Adela is described as "plain." (Because of her very plainness, Aziz is not at all attracted to her, and he is later insulted by the idea that anyone could think he would have wanted to rape her.) Although initially she is well-intentioned toward India, she does not possess Mrs. Moore's sensitivity and imagination. As a newcomer, she is somewhat naive about the nature of relations between the Anglo-Indians (British) and the Indians. Ronny expresses his disapproval of Adela's desire to see "the real India." While she is at Fielding's tea party, she off-handedly remarks that she is not planning to stay long in India. Immediately she—and the reader—realizes that unconsciously she has decided not to marry Ronny. However, she changes her mind temporarily when she and Ronny are in a minor accident in the Nawab Bahadur's car.
Adela accompanies Dr. Aziz and...
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A close friend of Dr. Aziz. A Moslem and a lawyer, he is often in the company of Aziz and Hamidullah. Mahmoud Ali declares that it is not possible for Indians to be friends with the English; Hamidullah argues that such friendship is possible. Mahmoud Ali is generally cynical, and he often makes sharp comments about other characters. He helps to defend Aziz at Aziz's trial.
A famous Hindu barrister (trial lawyer) from Calcutta who is hired to defend Dr. Aziz at his trial. Mr. Amritrao, reputed to be one of the finest Indian lawyers m the country, has made his name as a radical who is "notoriously anti-British." His hiring causes some controversy, and the move is regarded as a political challenge to the British. During the trial, Amritrao objects to the fact that Adela's British supporters have been allowed to sit on a platform at the front of the courtroom, and they are forced to move.
A distinguished Moslem who is a leading figure in the Indian community m the Chandrapore district ("Nawab" is an honorary title.) The Nawab Bahadur is an older man, "a big proprietor and a philanthropist, a man of benevolence and decision." A supporter of British rule in India, he is also known for his hospitality and loyalty to his friends. Ronny Heaslop and Adela Quested are riding in the Nawab's car when it runs off the road. Following the incident at the Marabar Caves, the Nawab...
(The entire section is 1926 words.)