Explain the main idea behind the epigraph to Howards End, "Only connect ..."
In Howards End, Margaret’s character upholds the epigraph’s message to “Only connect ...” as a moral concept that serves to transcend social rank, gender, and indoctrinated prejudice in early twentieth-century England. This idealistic message means we should strive for personal connection with all people, despite the differences in our beliefs and backgrounds. The novel explores the ongoing contrast and turmoil between the Schlegel and Wilcox families: the Schlegel family represents intellectual and humanistic values, and the Wilcox family symbolizes capitalistic and enterprise-driven principles.
The unlikely union of Margaret Schlegel and Henry Wilcox operates as a unifying device to dispel the differences between the families and to promote harmony amid class differences. Throughout the course of the novel, Margaret connects the concepts of business and art, realizing that art’s impact would not exist without financial support. This attempt at “connecting” two opposing forces is also embodied in the Howards End estate. This house was initially bequeathed to Margaret after Ruth Wilcox’s passing, since the two shared a deep admiration for Howards End and the way the idyllic property promotes returning to nature despite urban modernization.
The importance of Howards End and the unity it represents is ultimately conveyed when the property is willed to Helen and Leonard’s illegitimate child, once Margaret passes away. This gesture by Henry shows the barriers of intolerance dissolving and how love can prevail and “connect” people amid societal constructs.
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