A Passage to India: Imperialism

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Discuss Forster’s portrayal of Imperialism in the novel a passage to India A passage to India by E.M.Forster is a novel which deals largely with the political, economic and social takeover of India by the British Crown. The novel deals widely with colonialism and more specifically, imperialism. Forster presents the theme in question through the lives and minds of the characters from both the Indians and the English people. There is no subjective undertone to the novel and we see clearly how each character feels, politically correct or not. Forster successfully presents different scenarios and relationships with the assistance of symbolism and imagery, for us to imagine and determine a path to where it may lead; based on the concerns the book shows us. The narrative plays host to an array of themes and consequences present for both parties. The way in which Forster captures the imperialist ideology against the backdrop of a wondrous India and its people has been done so to give the reader a completely unbiased focal on the themes, but still create an enduring curiosity to how the back-story will affect the current affairs. With the thought on imperialism, rather than take the novel on a tangent of complete political movement, Forster chose to focus on people, relationships and the development of characters. Through this liberal approach it allows the reader to delve into the matter with an open mind, to develop own opinions and comments. To allow for all sides and notions to be represented, Forster seemed to develop a character for each. The idea that Indians would be facing an uphill battle trying to forge friendships with the English was represented in characters such as Hamidullah who implies that possibly both races can be friends but never under the current circumstances, and represented less progressively in Mahmoud Ali who presents a stubborn anti-British attitude. The ignorance of the British arrival in India is not unnoticed in the characters of Adela and more extremely in Ronny, who not only suffers from ignorance but has adopted the belief that he is superior to all Indians. Towards the beginning of the novel, or before the pinnacle turning point in the novel, Dr.Aziz and Fielding appear to be the level headed characters representing both races. Dr. Aziz is introduced in the opening chapters venting his frustration about the way the English treat him and other Indians, but never resorts to derogatory remarks or insults. He always appears to maintain a clear outlook to how he feels and why. Fielding, a British Official working in India demonstrates a humanitarian attitude towards Indians and treats them with kindness. As the novel develops and further embarks into the theme of Imperialism, these two characters allow us to see how this factor can affect and damage morals, relationships and opinions. The characters are almost representatives of the theme in question and they take the reader through the journey of the rise and fall, the pros and cons and the damage imperialism and colonialism as a whole can cause. The portrayal of Imperialism in the novel is largely unbiased from Forster himself. In the novel Forster exposes all emotions and attitudes from both races, because the novel is not written from the perspective from one race, or one side – it is written from the perspective of people – all anxiety and true emotion is exposed with little room for covering up British snobbery or submissive Indians, all is advertised. The ignorance on both parties is available, whether or not the ignorance is justified or not is irrelevant as it is all personal opinions. As Hamidullah says” They all become exactly the same, not worse, not better. I give any Englishman two years, be he Turton or Burton. It is only the difference of a letter. And I give any English woman six months. All are exactly alike.” Ch. 2 page 8; His feelings towards English appears bitter being that he was once treated with respect as a guest in...
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