Platonic Love: the Symbolic Meaning of the Main Characters in Maurice

Topics: Homosexuality, Love, E. M. Forster Pages: 11 (4003 words) Published: September 20, 2012
Thesis Statement:

I. Introduction
A. Background introduction
B. The author
C. Plot overview
II. Maurice Hall---------an Anglo-Saxon icon
A. primary education
B. self-consciousness in Cambridge
C. intrepid adventurer in terms of love
III. Clive Durham-------- a man who adores Ancient Greek Philosophy A. Platonic love
B. contradiction between lovers
C. From homosexual to heterosexual
IV. Conclusion

I. Introduction
A. Background Introduction
For the field of gay studies, the period between 1890 and 1925 is most interesting to look at. These three decades were pivotal for the representation of homosexuality in England. During the nineteenth century homosexuality was a hot topic, particularly male homosexuality, although it was hardly ever presented in a positive light. The current prevalent notion of the homosexual as a member of a distinct category can be argued to have surfaced in the late nineteenth century, and is related to the rise of urbanism and capitalism. Homosexuality began as what was called ‘the mute sin’, something so terrible true Christians would not name it. As society developed, near the end of the nineteenth century a group of writers, artists and philosophers arose who were dedicated to the goal of gaining sympathy for the homosexual impulse in a society which sought to repress it. They drew strength from classic texts, idolizing the ideas of ‘Greek love’, which was felt to be perfect and admirable, and were gradually fuelled by the legalization of homosexuality in other countries. Although they had little success in improving the homosexual’s legal status in England, they did contribute to the improved understanding and the greater self-consciousness which can be observed amongst homosexuals in that period. B. The author

Edward Morgan Forster was born in 1879, on New Year’s Day. His father died before Forster’s first birthday, leaving his son to be raised merely by women: his great-aunt, grandmother and his mother. Forster and his mother shared a close bond, even if she was said to be rather domineering, and Forster lived with her until she passed away when he was sixty-five years old (Rowse 280-281). Not living a very glamorous nor scandalous life, he would come to say about life that it is “so dull that there is nothing to be said about it” (Rowse 281). He felt inhibited by his upper middle-class background for most of his life, an inhibition only fuelled by his homosexuality. While there is no evidence whatsoever for him having negative feelings about his own sexuality, only about his anxiety about sex in general, he was extremely conscious of the limitation society thrust upon him because of it. E.M. Forster finished writing Maurice in 1914 but did not reveal the manuscript, not even to his friends, until one year after his death in 1971. According to David Leavitt, “Maurice” Forster had many reasons for not revealing his script; the main one was the public view on homosexuality and since Maurice did not end in the way that other contemporary homosexual novels used to end “with one lad dangling from a noose or with a suicide pact”. Maurice would have made Forster very vulnerable in the England of 1914. Forster himself was a popular author but his readers did not know that he was homosexual and he was afraid of the critical reaction that he feared a publication of Maurice would bring. C. Plot Overview

Maurice is a young man who is raised by his mother and two sisters in a privileged middle class home in the southern suburbs of London. He leaves for Cambridge at the age if nineteen to fulfill his father’s dream of the perfect education. Maurice’s father did not live to be there for Maurice during his life’s adventures. At Cambridge, Maurice meets Clive Durham who is a member of the English landed gentry. Clive’s family estate Penge is slowly decaying away and it’s only hope of survival lies on Clive’s shoulders. Clive sees himself as a kind of...
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