Howards End and the Uncanny

Best Essays
In what ways are the realist tendencies of Howards End undermined by the presence of the uncanny?
Realism is both reliant on and thoroughly undermined by the uncanny. Realism was prominent during the 19th and 20th centuries. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms realism is a ‘general attitude’ of literature that ‘rejects idealization, escapism and other extravagant qualities of romance.’ It must be noted that realism is not simply a realistic “slice of life” but a ‘system of conventions producing a lifelike illusion.’ The uncanny is a ‘kind of disturbing strangeness evoked’ in literature. Freud’s 1919 essay The Uncanny, or Das Unheimlich, discusses the subject in detail, stating that the uncanny is a subject which ‘arouses dread and horror.’ E.M. Forster’s novel Howards End is often referred to as one of the key realist texts of the 20th century, yet the presence of the uncanny significantly alters the texts main realist themes, be it by strengthening or weakening these ideals. Bennett & Royle’s characteristics of the uncanny are pertinent to Howards End, though five are more relevant than the others. All five aspects can be seen to make the realist tendencies of the novel more potent while at the same time subtly undermining key points. Howards End conveys several facets of the uncanny, the most distinct of these being repetition, fate or coincidence, silence, death and the all-important death drive. Howards End is laced with lashings of fate, and is almost haunted by the death drive.
Repetition creates a sense of the uncanny by developing a feeling of uneasiness through reiteration of a ‘feeling, situation, event or character.’ Howards End is a novel brimming with repetition, not all of which creates the illusion of the uncanny. Helen’s second visit to the house at Howard’s End is a repetition of sorts and creates a rather eerie feeling. Her first visit ends in tragedy when she falls in love with Paul Wilcox and her second visit includes a



Bibliography: Bennett, A. and Royle, N. An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory (4th Ed.) (Harlow: Pearson, 2009) Freud, S [ 2 ]. Baldick, C. Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms (3rd Ed.) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008) p.345. [ 3 ]. Baldick, C. Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms (3rd Ed.) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008) p.345. [ 4 ]. Baldick, C. Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms (3rd Ed.) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008) p.345. [ 5 ]. Freud, S. ‘The Uncanny’ (1919) Available online: http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~amtower/uncanny.html Date accessed: 02/11/2011, 11:27 p.1. [ 6 ]. Freud, S. ‘The Uncanny’ (1919) Available online: http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~amtower/uncanny.html Date accessed: 02/11/2011, 11:27 p.1. [ 7 ]. Bennett, A. and Royle, N. An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory (4th Ed.) (Harlow: Pearson, 2009) p. 36. [ 8 ]. Bennett, A. and Royle, N. An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory (4th Ed.) (Harlow: Pearson, 2009) p. 37. [ 9 ]. Freud, S. ‘The Uncanny’ (1919) Available online: http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~amtower/uncanny.html Date accessed: 02/11/2011, 11:27. p.8. [ 10 ]. Bennett, A. and Royle, N. An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory (4th Ed.) (Harlow: Pearson, 2009) p. 326. [ 11 ]. Bennett, A. and Royle, N. An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory (4th Ed.) (Harlow: Pearson, 2009) p.39. [ 12 ]. Forster, E.M. Howards End (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1992) p.332. [ 13 ]. Freud, S. ‘The Uncanny’ (1919) Available online: http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~amtower/uncanny.html Date accessed: 02/11/2011, 11:27 p.1.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Satisfactory Essays

    The Uncanny

    • 454 Words
    • 2 Pages

    The Uncanny – Freud I found this essay quite hard to read as it is quite long and repetitive, however, I found it informative. Before I read it I was aware of what the uncanny felt like but I never knew what it was that created the feeling. Freud defines the uncanny to be “that class of the terrifying which leads back to something long known to us and very familiar”. He clarifies that the uncanny can be experienced in two ways through his studies of the German words heimlich and unheimlich. His…

    • 454 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Connection in Howards End

    • 1876 Words
    • 8 Pages

    Connection in Howard’s End In E.M. Forster’s novel, Howard’s End, connection is perhaps the most important theme of the story, as the words "Only connect" make up its epigraph. Connections are necessary in many cases such as family, friends, and many other acquaintances. Howard’s End deals with conflict of class distinctions and human relationships. Connecting within oneself is a very important role which we are introduced to through Mr. Henry Wilcox’s character and his development between family…

    • 1876 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Better Essays

    Lara Armstrong Kate Egerton GSTR 110i 21 October 2014 Inheriting England Howards End, a riveting book written by E.M. Forster, showcases the question “Who shall inherit England?,” in the post-World War 1 England era does so by putting different social classes and the different people who are representatives of the social classes on display for everyone to judge and critique such as Leonard Bast as an old representative and his son as a new representative. E.M. Forster uses one man in particular…

    • 1982 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Howards End: Book Review

    • 1345 Words
    • 6 Pages

    Howards End by E. M. Forster deals with the conflict of class distinctions and human relationships. The quintessence of the main theme of this lovely novel is: "Only connect!…Only connect the prose and passion…and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer." This excerpt represents the main idea that Forster carries through the book: relationships, not social status, are--or at least should be--the most important thing for people.<br><br>Howards End was written in 1910. That…

    • 1345 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    E.M Forster – Howards End Howards End expresses a powerful critique on the conception of social class and social awareness in the early Edwardian Era. After the Victorian Era, values concerning class-awareness were altering. The story, set in the first decade of the 20th century, depicts this transformation and portrays two counter movements within the upper-middle class. The Wilcoxes and the Schlegels represent these opposite points of view in class-awareness. The Wilcoxes model for the capitalist…

    • 2195 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Better Essays

    Minogue A.P. Language and Composition A October 3, 2013 Foster’s Rhetorical Strategies Master novelists craft their texts in such a way that style supports subject matter. In a passage from the beginning of Chapter XX in the novel Howards End by E.M. Forster, it is clear, due to Forster’s use of rhetorical strategies, that the power of love is underestimated. Forster uses diction, syntax, and tone to illustrate this concept of love. Forster first uses diction to reveal the…

    • 881 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    The Uncanny Analysis

    • 1823 Words
    • 8 Pages

    security blanket had a voice? That lifeless object has come alive. As Freud states on page 5 in The Uncanny, “ …whether a lifeless object might not be in fact animate”. In Sigmund’s collection of essays he examines just this; the strange, mysterious, eerie feeling of the familiar but yet unfamiliar. In Freud’s collection of stories titled, “The Uncanny,” he explains “What is “uncanny” is frightening precisely because it is not known and familiar” (Sigmund 2). He then…

    • 1823 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    ‘Howards End is more the story of Helen than Margaret’ Explore the methods which writers use to present their characters and create interest in their stories The idealistic Schlegel sisters are at the epicentre of E.M Forster’s Howards End, and are essential to the plot of the novel, whilst other characters are primarily used to highlight aspects of both women’s character. While Helen provides the reader with drama and acts as a catalyst to events in the novel, Margaret’s development as a character…

    • 1349 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The Uncanny Valley

    • 1772 Words
    • 8 Pages

    Anthropomorphism in Japanese Visual Culture What is Anthropomorphism? The process of giving animals or inanimate objects human characteristics to make humans feel empathy is called ‘Anthropomorphism’ The term anthropomorphism was first used by the Greek philosopher Xenophanes. The word is derived from the Greek word Anthrōpomorphos. ‘Anthrōpos’ meaning, “man” or "human", and ‘Morphē’, "shape" or "form". He used it when he criticized the Greek conception of gods and deities with human appearances…

    • 1772 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Freud’s text ‘The Uncanny’ has enabled me to understand the sense of ‘not being at home’ as I’m not British, having lived in London all my life it has yet to be considered home although, if taking Freud’s text into consideration a part of me has already established London as my home but Ukraine as my homeland with a difference that is very visible in all aspects of life. The British culture, religions – many to choose from which is rare in Ukraine as we have a very limited choice. For example: Christian…

    • 792 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays