The Characters

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Because of Forster’s open use of homosexuality, his choice of a main character is especially important for this book’s success. Forster deliberately avoids the sensitive, cultured intellectuals of King’s and Trinity colleges. Maurice Hall, instead, is a very ordinary boy with a rather second-rate mind, especially during his school and university days. He knows almost nothing about serious art and music. He loves his family and is complacent about following his father’s path in business and society. It is not until after Clive Durham speaks openly of his own feelings that Maurice even suspects that he might have homosexual inclinations. Indeed, he thinks very little unless challenged by Clive or his own experiences. Maurice discovers that even a short vacation at home returns his mind to its usual stagnant muddle. In creating this main character, Forster attempts to emphasize an Everyman quality about Maurice’s conflict.

By the conclusion, Maurice Hall’s education has produced a very different person: A successful broker, possessed of the self-knowledge he has so painfully gained, Maurice can act with courage and clarity of mind to preserve his happiness. He instinctively recognizes and seizes the truth and beauty of his new relationship with Alec when he experiences it. Still, Forster’s narrator spends too much time describing how Maurice feels rather than letting Maurice’s actions or words reveal him. The result is that the reader never...

(The entire section is 543 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Maurice Hall

Maurice Hall, a healthy and handsome, though indifferent, student (at Sunnington and later at Cambridge) who becomes a successful London stockbroker. Conventional, respectable, and suburban, imaginatively slow and intellectually muddled, he begins in a state of vague sexual uneasiness and, by means of his largely platonic relationship with Clive Durham and a fully consummated relationship with Alec Scudder, develops a clear recognition and acceptance of his own homosexuality. Having fought his way to this understanding of his essential nature, he defies class, family, and sexual constraints to establish a mature and satisfying relationship with Alec. They go off to build a life together in the greenwood.

Clive Durham

Clive Durham, a Cambridge classics scholar who becomes an aspiring politician. As a slight, attractive blond undergraduate, he makes Maurice aware of his sexual inclinations. They discover and confess their love for each other and spend three years together, traveling to Italy and keeping company regularly in London. At Clive’s insistence, the relationship is kept free of any physical passion and made to burn with an idealized sort of Hellenic spirituality. After an illness and a period of self-disgust on a solitary trip to Greece, Clive turns his interests to women, renouncing Maurice, marrying Lady Anne Wood, and setting up as a country squire at Penge, the family seat. Although now apparently “normal,” he is still unable to face up to the reality of the body or to regard sex as anything but dark and shameful.

Alec Scudder

Alec Scudder, a gamekeeper at Penge, the Durham estate. A...

(The entire section is 694 words.)