Nov 30, 2012

Ramblings on Howard's End by E.M. Forster

Gaugin
The only permanence in the novel is Howard’s End, a place which has a pivotal effect towards all the characters. Even though the main setting is in London, it’s presence is felt throughout. The Wilcox’s wrongfully keep the home after Mrs. Ruth Wilcox passes. She wrote a note in pencil that she wished her friend, Margaret Schlegel, to have it. Despite that none of the family want to live there and feel it’s outdated they value it as a piece of property and don’t feel right parting with it to a stranger.

The Schlegel’s are very different from the Wilcox’s.They have an appreciation for the arts and for emotions. They challenge their thoughts and look at other points of view, associating with diverse people– they want to know life beyond the norm of society. Margaret, Helen, and Tibby each are very different individuals; they have their own personalities and interests.

Margaret has a strong backbone, she’s witty, understanding and thoughtful. Helen’s wild, impulsive, and passionate. Tibby doesn’t try to impress anyone and is not worldly ambitious, he studies what he finds interesting and works very hard at it.

The Wilcox’s struggle is to stay within the norm. They suppress emotion, seeing it as a weakness and are determined to be successful in the material world. Those in the family share common characteristics, very little differentiates them from one-another.

Margaret had often wondered at the disturbance that takes place in the world’s waters when Love, who seems so tiny a pebble, slips in. Whom does love concern beyond the beloved and the lover? Yet his impact deluges a hundred shores.

What really intrigued me is how and if Margaret Schlegel could care for Mr. Henry Wilcox. The same might be said for Ruth. Was it his vulnerability, which only they saw, that was part of his attraction? The worldly comfort? or just the desire of marriage? It’s not because he’s flawed that I fail to grasp the two’s choice of husband but because their minds and spirits and so dissimilar to his.

Gaugin
Ruth and Margaret both have very sensitive souls, although Margaret’s more forward-thinking. But they both marry this man who doesn’t try to understand himself, doesn’t really have independent thoughts– just stands with what he’s been brought up to do and think. He seems imperceptive to humanity and the side of the world which Margaret really is a part of.

Helen and Mr. Wilcox were both tangled in adulterous affairs– they both crossed the boundaries of Edwardian morality but where Helen recognizes this, Mr. Wilcox refuses it. He was married to Ruth. Leonard Bast was married to Jacky. Jacky Bast was Mr. Wilcox’s mistress years ago. When he learns of Helen’s pregnancy he refuses to let her stay at Howard’s End. She has done wrong.

That he did the same thing can’t be admitted. Margaret tries to make him face his hypocrisy but he keeps it buried under unrelenting denial. He wants to portray himself as the ‘model gentleman’ and because this illusion has been broken and Margaret knows the truth it’s the end of their marriage. He doesn’t forgive himself nor anyone else, even though as humans we cannot be perfect.

Helen’s moment with Leonard might have been her way of showing him they are equals. While Mr. Wilcox sees his previous affair as degrading, he never saw Jacky as an equal. He leaves Jacky stranded without a care for her welfare. Leonard sticks by his promise to marry her and is cut off from his family. He feels responsibility. Something Helen chides Mr. Wilcox for his lack of. Especially when his information about the Porphyrion causes a lot of problems for the Basts.

Gaugin
Leonard really wants to improve himself but in the beginning he forces it too much. When he plays a bit of Grieg on the piano, it’s described as harsh and vulgar. I think Forster means Leonard doesn’t understand the piece and plays it tempestuously thinking, perhaps that he’ll feel more– convey more and forgets the nuances, the contrasts of the piece, and probably technique.

He has great fear of his own ignorance and when he first meets the Schlegels all he can do is be silent and wary. He fails to discern they wouldn’t judge him harshly but be intrigued by his eagerness.

When he goes out for his all-night walk he begins to realize that the true greatness of culture isn’t always analyzing or comparing but having those works influence his life, inspire him to transcend beyond his daily routine.

Mr. Wilcox with all of his wealth and privileges doesn’t come to this realization. But he begins to sense the imbalance of how he interprets life after he’s broken by the scandal of his son’s actions which hurry on Leonard’s end.

Done because of a belief that he must defend Helen’s honor, another erroneous assumption because it was probably Helen who seduced Leonard– but Mr. Wilcox is taken into Margaret’s wing and the ending leaves a sense that maybe he will understand. Surrounded as he is now by Margaret, Helen, and Helen’s son. Learning along with the child?

Memorable Quotes

What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives? They have never entered into mine, but into yours, we thought–Haven’t we all to struggle against life’s daily greyness, against pettiness, against mechanical cheerfulness, against suspicion? I struggle by remembering my friends; others I have known by remembering some place–some beloved place or tree–we thought you one of these.
Charles and Tibby met at Ducie Street, where the latter was staying. Their interview was short and absurd. They had nothing in common but the English language, and tried by its help to express what neither of them understood.

Nov 3, 2012

The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

Maggie Tulliver breaks the mold of the ideal Victorian child, she’s impulsive, prone to accidents, has her own opinions, and is quite a contrast to her fair-haired and obedient cousin Lucy. She wants to please but pleasing her mother means being passive– she isn’t. 

In one scene after she’s chided by the dreaded Aunts about her hair, a perpetual trouble to her, she goes upstairs and cuts it. Her father lovingly calls her ‘the little wench.’ He recognizes her quickness and admires her bold ways and opinions but knows she’s restricted by the domestic expectations of her era.

I think there are stores laid up in our human nature that our understandings can make no complete inventory of. Certain strains of music affect me so strangely— I can never hear them without their changing my whole attitude of mind for a time, and if the effect would last, I might be capable of heroisms.

When she grows up and tries to suppress her passionate nature the writing begins to blossom. Maggie’s very perceptive to emotions. She wants to be loved wholeheartedly, unconditionally. The pure unwavering love of her brother Tom is the foundation she’s longed for but he’s often abrupt, cynical, or irritated by her intelligence.

Phillip Wakem’s devotion to her is like a balm to her hope but it matures into a romantic love that Maggie doesn’t reciprocate. She realizes this when she meets Stephen Guest. There’s a mutual attraction but he is engaged to her cousin Lucy.


Divided between her emotions and conscience, she feels trapped. How can she hurt Phillip and Lucy? If she marries Stephen, she will betray Lucy and deeply hurt Phillip. But her reasoning is flawed. How can her cousin Lucy’s happiness be secured by a man that doesn’t love her? 

Maggie would scorn such a marriage herself and if she looked deeper she’d realize that’s the position she’s in with Phillip. She fears deceiving and betraying Lucy but she’s doing so by wanting Stephen to continue their engagement. It’s contradictory and torments her.

If she marries Phillip, Tom will never be part of her life because there’s a deep tangled history between the Wakems and Tullivers. Tom won’t let go of a wrong oath his father pressed him to against the Wakems, he becomes hard, stubborn, and prejudiced.

He’s focused on bringing material comfort back to his family (and does a successful job of it) but is ignorant to the beauty of emotions and culture, they are suppressed and set aside– useless, like geometry and Latin from his school days, he finds them impractical. He closes his heart and his world becomes tragically narrowed.

If you were in fault ever— if you had done anything very wrong, I should be sorry for the pain it brought you; I should not want punishment to be heaped on you… You have no pity: you have no sense of your own imperfections and your own sins. It is a sin to be hard; it is not fitting for a mortal— for a Christian. You are nothing but a Pharisee… You have not even a vision of feelings by the side of which your shining virtues are mere darkness!

Worse, he doesn’t stop to think below the surface of his sister’s actions– doesn’t try to understand or comfort her, only judges. It’s not until Maggie comes with tremendous effort to save him during the the flood that he realizes his error and wakens.

Tom is presented with shadows of another side to him but they’re shapeless. What feelings were being suppressing? It’s implied he’s in love with Lucy. Was part of his wrath towards Maggie because she’d hurt Lucy?

I struggled with the idea of Stephen as Maggie’s romantic interest, his character is like a means to an end in the plot, we know so little of him. He’s witty, and handsome but reaps from people for his own happiness and thinks little of anyone else’s.

Maggie’s emotions are so fragile, teetering on the extremes. She would have been a fabulous poet and I wish she’d such an outlet to help her inner turmoil. Maybe that is part of the point Eliot tries to make?

It’s not a romantic love she needs to find fulfillment but an accepting love and a purpose. St Ogg’s is constricting, not because it’s small and in the country, but because she’s smothered by expectations for her to be ordinary.

Few appreciate her individuality. Phillip did, but his love for her became a source of anxiety because she didn’t want to hurt him. To think, how different the story could have been had Maggie a true friend who wanted nothing.

I prefer character-driven writing but had difficulty with The Mill on the Floss, it’s overall tone was a deep-rooted melancholy. The kind that permeates the novel and leaves little room for hope and whenever there was a glimmer it quickly faded.

Memorable Quotes


There was no indulgence, no fondness, such as she had imagined when she fashioned the world afresh in her own thoughts. In books people were always agreeable or tender, and delighted to do things that made one happy, and who did not show their kindness by finding fault. The world outside the books was not a happy one, Maggie felt; it seemed to be a world where people behaved the best to those they did not pretend to love, and that did not belong to them. And if life had no love in it, what else was there for Maggie?
Does not a supreme poet blend light and sound into one, calling darkness mute, and light eloquent? Something strangely powerful there was in the light of Stephen’s long gaze, for it made Maggie’s face turn towards it and look upward at it—- slowly, like a flower at the ascending brightness. And they walked unsteadily on, without feeling that they were walking—- without feeling anything but that long grave mutual gaze which has the solemnity belonging to all deep human passion. The hovering thought that they must and would renounce each other made this moment of mute confession more intense in its rapture.

Nov 30, 2012

Ramblings on Howard's End by E.M. Forster

Gaugin
The only permanence in the novel is Howard’s End, a place which has a pivotal effect towards all the characters. Even though the main setting is in London, it’s presence is felt throughout. The Wilcox’s wrongfully keep the home after Mrs. Ruth Wilcox passes. She wrote a note in pencil that she wished her friend, Margaret Schlegel, to have it. Despite that none of the family want to live there and feel it’s outdated they value it as a piece of property and don’t feel right parting with it to a stranger.

The Schlegel’s are very different from the Wilcox’s.They have an appreciation for the arts and for emotions. They challenge their thoughts and look at other points of view, associating with diverse people– they want to know life beyond the norm of society. Margaret, Helen, and Tibby each are very different individuals; they have their own personalities and interests.

Margaret has a strong backbone, she’s witty, understanding and thoughtful. Helen’s wild, impulsive, and passionate. Tibby doesn’t try to impress anyone and is not worldly ambitious, he studies what he finds interesting and works very hard at it.

The Wilcox’s struggle is to stay within the norm. They suppress emotion, seeing it as a weakness and are determined to be successful in the material world. Those in the family share common characteristics, very little differentiates them from one-another.

Margaret had often wondered at the disturbance that takes place in the world’s waters when Love, who seems so tiny a pebble, slips in. Whom does love concern beyond the beloved and the lover? Yet his impact deluges a hundred shores.

What really intrigued me is how and if Margaret Schlegel could care for Mr. Henry Wilcox. The same might be said for Ruth. Was it his vulnerability, which only they saw, that was part of his attraction? The worldly comfort? or just the desire of marriage? It’s not because he’s flawed that I fail to grasp the two’s choice of husband but because their minds and spirits and so dissimilar to his.

Gaugin
Ruth and Margaret both have very sensitive souls, although Margaret’s more forward-thinking. But they both marry this man who doesn’t try to understand himself, doesn’t really have independent thoughts– just stands with what he’s been brought up to do and think. He seems imperceptive to humanity and the side of the world which Margaret really is a part of.

Helen and Mr. Wilcox were both tangled in adulterous affairs– they both crossed the boundaries of Edwardian morality but where Helen recognizes this, Mr. Wilcox refuses it. He was married to Ruth. Leonard Bast was married to Jacky. Jacky Bast was Mr. Wilcox’s mistress years ago. When he learns of Helen’s pregnancy he refuses to let her stay at Howard’s End. She has done wrong.

That he did the same thing can’t be admitted. Margaret tries to make him face his hypocrisy but he keeps it buried under unrelenting denial. He wants to portray himself as the ‘model gentleman’ and because this illusion has been broken and Margaret knows the truth it’s the end of their marriage. He doesn’t forgive himself nor anyone else, even though as humans we cannot be perfect.

Helen’s moment with Leonard might have been her way of showing him they are equals. While Mr. Wilcox sees his previous affair as degrading, he never saw Jacky as an equal. He leaves Jacky stranded without a care for her welfare. Leonard sticks by his promise to marry her and is cut off from his family. He feels responsibility. Something Helen chides Mr. Wilcox for his lack of. Especially when his information about the Porphyrion causes a lot of problems for the Basts.

Gaugin
Leonard really wants to improve himself but in the beginning he forces it too much. When he plays a bit of Grieg on the piano, it’s described as harsh and vulgar. I think Forster means Leonard doesn’t understand the piece and plays it tempestuously thinking, perhaps that he’ll feel more– convey more and forgets the nuances, the contrasts of the piece, and probably technique.

He has great fear of his own ignorance and when he first meets the Schlegels all he can do is be silent and wary. He fails to discern they wouldn’t judge him harshly but be intrigued by his eagerness.

When he goes out for his all-night walk he begins to realize that the true greatness of culture isn’t always analyzing or comparing but having those works influence his life, inspire him to transcend beyond his daily routine.

Mr. Wilcox with all of his wealth and privileges doesn’t come to this realization. But he begins to sense the imbalance of how he interprets life after he’s broken by the scandal of his son’s actions which hurry on Leonard’s end.

Done because of a belief that he must defend Helen’s honor, another erroneous assumption because it was probably Helen who seduced Leonard– but Mr. Wilcox is taken into Margaret’s wing and the ending leaves a sense that maybe he will understand. Surrounded as he is now by Margaret, Helen, and Helen’s son. Learning along with the child?

Memorable Quotes

What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives? They have never entered into mine, but into yours, we thought–Haven’t we all to struggle against life’s daily greyness, against pettiness, against mechanical cheerfulness, against suspicion? I struggle by remembering my friends; others I have known by remembering some place–some beloved place or tree–we thought you one of these.
Charles and Tibby met at Ducie Street, where the latter was staying. Their interview was short and absurd. They had nothing in common but the English language, and tried by its help to express what neither of them understood.

Nov 3, 2012

The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

Maggie Tulliver breaks the mold of the ideal Victorian child, she’s impulsive, prone to accidents, has her own opinions, and is quite a contrast to her fair-haired and obedient cousin Lucy. She wants to please but pleasing her mother means being passive– she isn’t. 

In one scene after she’s chided by the dreaded Aunts about her hair, a perpetual trouble to her, she goes upstairs and cuts it. Her father lovingly calls her ‘the little wench.’ He recognizes her quickness and admires her bold ways and opinions but knows she’s restricted by the domestic expectations of her era.

I think there are stores laid up in our human nature that our understandings can make no complete inventory of. Certain strains of music affect me so strangely— I can never hear them without their changing my whole attitude of mind for a time, and if the effect would last, I might be capable of heroisms.

When she grows up and tries to suppress her passionate nature the writing begins to blossom. Maggie’s very perceptive to emotions. She wants to be loved wholeheartedly, unconditionally. The pure unwavering love of her brother Tom is the foundation she’s longed for but he’s often abrupt, cynical, or irritated by her intelligence.

Phillip Wakem’s devotion to her is like a balm to her hope but it matures into a romantic love that Maggie doesn’t reciprocate. She realizes this when she meets Stephen Guest. There’s a mutual attraction but he is engaged to her cousin Lucy.


Divided between her emotions and conscience, she feels trapped. How can she hurt Phillip and Lucy? If she marries Stephen, she will betray Lucy and deeply hurt Phillip. But her reasoning is flawed. How can her cousin Lucy’s happiness be secured by a man that doesn’t love her? 

Maggie would scorn such a marriage herself and if she looked deeper she’d realize that’s the position she’s in with Phillip. She fears deceiving and betraying Lucy but she’s doing so by wanting Stephen to continue their engagement. It’s contradictory and torments her.

If she marries Phillip, Tom will never be part of her life because there’s a deep tangled history between the Wakems and Tullivers. Tom won’t let go of a wrong oath his father pressed him to against the Wakems, he becomes hard, stubborn, and prejudiced.

He’s focused on bringing material comfort back to his family (and does a successful job of it) but is ignorant to the beauty of emotions and culture, they are suppressed and set aside– useless, like geometry and Latin from his school days, he finds them impractical. He closes his heart and his world becomes tragically narrowed.

If you were in fault ever— if you had done anything very wrong, I should be sorry for the pain it brought you; I should not want punishment to be heaped on you… You have no pity: you have no sense of your own imperfections and your own sins. It is a sin to be hard; it is not fitting for a mortal— for a Christian. You are nothing but a Pharisee… You have not even a vision of feelings by the side of which your shining virtues are mere darkness!

Worse, he doesn’t stop to think below the surface of his sister’s actions– doesn’t try to understand or comfort her, only judges. It’s not until Maggie comes with tremendous effort to save him during the the flood that he realizes his error and wakens.

Tom is presented with shadows of another side to him but they’re shapeless. What feelings were being suppressing? It’s implied he’s in love with Lucy. Was part of his wrath towards Maggie because she’d hurt Lucy?

I struggled with the idea of Stephen as Maggie’s romantic interest, his character is like a means to an end in the plot, we know so little of him. He’s witty, and handsome but reaps from people for his own happiness and thinks little of anyone else’s.

Maggie’s emotions are so fragile, teetering on the extremes. She would have been a fabulous poet and I wish she’d such an outlet to help her inner turmoil. Maybe that is part of the point Eliot tries to make?

It’s not a romantic love she needs to find fulfillment but an accepting love and a purpose. St Ogg’s is constricting, not because it’s small and in the country, but because she’s smothered by expectations for her to be ordinary.

Few appreciate her individuality. Phillip did, but his love for her became a source of anxiety because she didn’t want to hurt him. To think, how different the story could have been had Maggie a true friend who wanted nothing.

I prefer character-driven writing but had difficulty with The Mill on the Floss, it’s overall tone was a deep-rooted melancholy. The kind that permeates the novel and leaves little room for hope and whenever there was a glimmer it quickly faded.

Memorable Quotes


There was no indulgence, no fondness, such as she had imagined when she fashioned the world afresh in her own thoughts. In books people were always agreeable or tender, and delighted to do things that made one happy, and who did not show their kindness by finding fault. The world outside the books was not a happy one, Maggie felt; it seemed to be a world where people behaved the best to those they did not pretend to love, and that did not belong to them. And if life had no love in it, what else was there for Maggie?
Does not a supreme poet blend light and sound into one, calling darkness mute, and light eloquent? Something strangely powerful there was in the light of Stephen’s long gaze, for it made Maggie’s face turn towards it and look upward at it—- slowly, like a flower at the ascending brightness. And they walked unsteadily on, without feeling that they were walking—- without feeling anything but that long grave mutual gaze which has the solemnity belonging to all deep human passion. The hovering thought that they must and would renounce each other made this moment of mute confession more intense in its rapture.
© November's Autumn
Maira Gall