HOWARDS END is a novel by
E. M. Forster
* 1 Plot summary * 2 Writing * 3 Film, TV, Radio and theatrical adaptations * 4 Location * 5 References * 6 External links
The story revolves around three families in England at the beginning
of the 20th century: the Wilcoxes, rich capitalists with a fortune
made in the Colonies; the half-German Schlegel siblings (Margaret,
Tibby, and Helen), whose cultural pursuits have much in common with
The Schlegels had briefly met and befriended the Wilcoxes when both
families were touring
Later that year, the Wilcoxes move to
A few years later, Henry Wilcox and Margaret Schlegel renew their acquaintance. Their friendship blossoms into romance and in due course, Henry proposes to Margaret and she accepts. It is apparent that their personalities could not be more different. The courageous, idealistic, compassionate, high-minded and romantically inclined Margaret tries to get the rigid, unsentimental, staunchly rational Henry to open up more, to little effect. Henry's children do not look upon her engagement to their father with a friendly eye. Evie, the daughter, soon to be married herself, is largely concerned with her own affairs, whereas Paul, the younger son, now lives and works in Nigeria. The main opposition comes from the elder son, Charles, and his wife Dolly, who are civil enough to conceal their hostility to Margaret, yet really see her as an intruder, posing a threat to their own ambitions. Most of all, they fear any claim she could one day have to Howards End.
Meanwhile, the sisters encourage Leonard Bast, an acquaintance of theirs, to quit his job as a clerk and seek employment elsewhere, having learned from Henry that the insurance company Leonard works for is likely to go bankrupt. A few weeks later, Henry reverses his opinion, but it's too late. Leonard has already resigned his modest yet safe position, thereby losing whatever precarious hold he had on financial security, and his subsequent job-seeking efforts have come to naught.
An additional complication is that Leonard is married to Jacky, a
troubled, vulnerable "fallen" woman for whom he feels responsible.
Helen continues to try to help him, ostensibly out of guilt for having
interfered with his life in the first place, but also perhaps because
she is secretly attracted to him. Soon, however, it all goes terribly
wrong. Helen encounters the starving Basts and, appalled by the state
they are in, brings them to Evie Wilcox's garden wedding, whereupon
Henry recognizes Jacky as his former mistress. He flees from the
scene, breaking off his engagement to Margaret. His first thought is
that the Schlegels and Basts have concocted a dark plot to entrap and
expose him; but he later calms down and tells Margaret the truth. Ten
years previously, when he was on business in
The Schlegel sisters drift apart, partly because of Margaret's
impending marriage into the Wilcox family, partly because of Helen's
profound disapproval of Henry's treatment of the Basts. Much
distressed by what she has heard from Leonard about the circumstances
of Henry's acquaintance with Jacky in Cyprus, she is overwhelmed by
love and pity for him; indeed she sees Leonard as a strikingly
altruistic and romantic figure whose struggle throughout life bears
the mark of heroism. Helen and Leonard are thrown together in an
atmosphere of great anguish and succumb to their feelings of mutual
passion. Finding herself pregnant, Helen leaves England, travelling to
Margaret decides it is her duty to stand by her sister and help her. She tries in vain to convince Henry that if she can forgive his own transgression, he should by the same token forgive Helen hers. Henry, strongly indignant, remains unconvinced. At this point, Leonard arrives at Howards End, still tormented by the affair and wishing to speak to Margaret. He is not aware of Helen's presence there, having lost contact with her ever since refusing her offer to assist him financially. Charles Wilcox then bursts upon the scene and, in an effort to ingratiate himself with his father, attacks Leonard for purportedly "insulting" Helen. He strikes Leonard with the flat edge of a heavy old German sword which had belonged to Margaret's father. Leonard grabs onto a nearby bookcase, which collapses in a heap on top of him. Tragically, his weak heart fails and he dies on the spot. Margaret assumes responsibility for this turn of events and sides with Helen and the dead Leonard, informing Henry of her intention to leave him.
Charles Wilcox is found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to three
years in prison. The scandal and its repercussions have a profound
effect on Henry, causing him to take a good look at his life and
examine his conscience. He learns the value of empathy and begins to
connect with others. Writing a new will, he bequeaths
FILM, TV, RADIO AND THEATRICAL ADAPTATIONS
In 2009, a two-part adaptation by Amanda Dalton was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 , with John Hurt as the Narrator, Lisa Dillon as Margaret Schlegel, Jill Cardo as Helen Schlegel, Tom Ferguson as Tibby Schlegel, Alexandra Mathie as Aunt Juley, Malcolm Raeburn as Henry Wilcox, Ann Rye as Ruth Wilcox and Joseph Kloska as Charles Wilcox.
Claudia Stevens ' opera libretto Howards End, America (2016) places the action in Boston in the 1950s.
Forster based his description of
Wickham Place, the
* ^ Trilling, Lionel (1965). E.M.Forster. New York, NY: New Directions. p. 114. ISBN 0811202100 . * ^ Moffat, Wendy E. M. Forster: A New Life, London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2010 * ^ Walters (Editor), Tracey L (2008). Zadie Smith: Critical Essays. Switzerland