How are the Wilcoxes portrayed in Howards End?

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The Wilcoxes, especially family patriarch Henry Wilcox, are presented as hard-headed, money making people who represent the new England that Forster dislikes. They are not rooted to any particular place, but move where it is fashionable to live. The make their money through banking and mining ventures in Africa that don't bear much scrutiny. They drive cars and represent the ruthless modernity that is sweeping through England in the early 1900s.

Henry, in particular, is practical and hard-driving, but lacking in imagination and empathy. He knows how to make money, but he doesn't necessarily understand how to connect with people. Since a theme of the novel is "only connect," his lack of ability to understand others can be seen as an important character flaw.

The other Wilcoxes are a contrast to Ruth Wilcox, who although married to Henry, is not like him. She is closely associated with a rambling and modest brick country home called Howards End. Ruth and the house represent the old, gentler England that is wedded to the countryside.

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