Where Angels Fear to Tread’ is the first novel of E.M. Forster. Although it was written at the very early age but the novel reached at its perfect maturity. His four novels: Where Angels Fear to Tread. “The Longest Journey. A room with a view’ and ‘Towards End” were published before the 1914 and although the world they describe is different from the present. day world, the problems and conflicts remain the same. Forster’s first novel ‘Where Angels Fear to Tread’ is a sophisticated comedy about a group of well-bred English people. Lilia is the heroine of the novel who marries to a middle class suburban family, the Herritons. When the story opens, Lilia marri to Charles Herriton, a widow. She had a young daughter Irma about ten years old. Her mother-in-law is unsympathetic and unimaginative. Her sister-in-law Harriet is a shifting virgin. Her brother-in-law is Philip Herrior who is a clever and intellectual snob. But he is living under his mother’s thumb. In the novel the novel opens with tension when Lilia goes to Italy and engaged herself with a dental’s son Gino Carella. Forster gives a true picture of clash between two cultures of Italy and England.
The present novel is a novel of conflict and reconciliation between Culture and Nature. It also consists about two different cultures, one is of England and other is of Italy. Forster wrote it about people matter, friendship matters, kindness and sympathy matters. When above matters failed, the death incarnates. There is conflict between intellect and flesh and the mind and the body. We cannot imagine body without intellect and flesh without mind. Neither is self-sufficient. When mind and body mixed up it becomes complete.
It is a novel of learning and growth. It is a novel of broken ties like Samuel Butler’s, The way of all Flesh and Henry James ‘The Ambassadors’. It is a story of questioning, disillusionment and conversion. It is a great criticism about middle class family. It is a novel of sexuality. Henry James presents a conflict between innocence and experience and believes that without experience innocence remains unguarded. The intellect and the body show a tention in his novels and the spirit seldom comes in In the present novel there is a pattern of triangle, they are: the intellect the body and the soul. The author gives the argument that for a happy life all these are essential for a happy life. The theme of “Where Angels Fear to Tread is the effect of a foreign country and a strange culture upon insular ideas and provincial personalities. In the 18th century it had been a device of moralist to confront their own culture with the superior habits of foreign lands. The middle classes learned that only in England, or America, were things offered to all. In reaction, they boast that Mussolini was to make about the punctual running of his trains was a barefaced appeal to the middle class tourist. Social history shows that the intellectuals surrendered gratefully to the ways of strange country. The criticism of their own culture was not unfounded. An unknown culture is not only quaint but also good. The theme of salvation is central to the meaning of ‘Where Angels Fear to Tread’ so too is the theme of transfiguration. Both are an expression of that wide spread attempt in a secular age to invest life with meaning and significance by using religious terminology to describe heightened states of being. Salvation forms the moral center of the novel.
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“Where Angels Fear to Tread,” a novel by E.M. Forster, delves into the themes of cultural clash, the folly of arrogance, and the complexities of human relationships. Set primarily in Italy and England in the early 20th century, it explores the interactions and conflicts between a group of English tourists and the Italian community they encounter. Here are the central themes of the novel:
Cultural Clash and Imperialism:
One of the novel’s most prominent themes is the clash between the English and Italian cultures. The English characters often display a sense of superiority and a lack of understanding or respect for Italian customs and values, reflecting the attitudes of imperialism prevalent at the time. This cultural arrogance leads to misunderstandings and conflicts.
The Limits of Idealism and Romanticism:
The novel critiques the romantic idealism of its characters, particularly in their romantic and familial relationships. The characters often act based on idealized notions of love and virtue, which leads to tragic consequences. Forster explores the danger of placing ideals above the complexity of real human emotions and situations.
Class and Social Constraints:
Social class plays a significant role in the novel. The English characters’ attitudes and actions are often influenced by their adherence to class norms and expectations. The novel critiques the rigidity of the English class system and its impact on personal relationships.
The Complexity of Human Relationships:
Forster explores the complexities and intricacies of human relationships. The novel features a range of relationships, including familial bonds, friendships, and romantic liaisons, each presenting its own set of challenges and misunderstandings.
Irony and Tragedy:
The novel employs irony to critique the characters’ actions and decisions. Many of their troubles are self-inflicted, resulting from their own prejudices and misunderstandings. The story takes on a tragic tone as these flaws lead to irreversible consequences.
Personal Growth and Self-Discovery:
Throughout the novel, some characters undergo significant personal growth. They are forced to confront their own prejudices and limitations, leading to a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them.
In “Where Angels Fear to Tread,” Forster combines a critique of English cultural arrogance with an exploration of the complexities of human relationships and the often tragic consequences of idealism and misunderstanding. The novel’s title, an allusion to Alexander Pope’s line “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread,” aptly summarizes its exploration of the folly of arrogance and the hazards of navigating the complex terrain of human emotions and cultural interactions.