E. M. Forster

Start Free Trial

What is the effect of property upon a man?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Forster suggests three main effects of property on individuals.:
1)  Property causes individuals to be “big people”- The growth of materialism causes us to be tied down to it, preventing us to be free as we become tied to our possessions.  This heaviness prevents us from spiritual fulfillment (Forster says it denies us an entry into heaven, quoting Biblical scripture as evidence).  The idea here is that we begin to see ourselves in our material acquisition.  At this point, there is a sense that we give so much value to objects, we tend to see ourselves reflected in them, allowing us to seem more superior than we really are for we have made these objects an extension of us, not separate from us.

2)  The desire for material wealth causes us to want more.  We seek a growth, expanding through boundaries.  He uses the situation with his neighbor as an example.  We become quickly dissatisfied with what we have because we start to seek more and covet more.  There is an endless supply of material wealth and we set our sights on acquiring it once we have a taste of it.  This is reminiscent of a theme in Goethe’s Faust, where Faust seems driven to ceaselessly appropriate the world in accordance to his own subjectivity.  There is no end to this appetite.
3)  Creates restlessness- Forster suggests that an effect of property is that we want to do something more and we don’t know what.  Again, material acquisition is endless and this is seen here.  We are rarely satisfied with what we have.  The desires for wealth trigger an infinitely regressive cycle of wants and desires which preclude any hope for contentment, happiness, and fulfillment.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team