"A Passage to India" by Edward Morgan Forster | Free Essay Example

“A Passage to India” by Edward Morgan Forster

Words: 1171
Topic: Literature


One of the most obvious and frequently discussed features of the novel by E. M. Forster called “A Passage to India” is the issues of racism, judgments, and generalization based on nationality. Right after the novel first saw the world in 1924, it became the cause of passionate arguments and was widely criticized for an “unreasonable bias” and being overall anti-British (Misra 55).

Today, in the world where racial prejudice is one of the most important issues the contemporary society is struggling to overcome, this novel is read differently. For the modern reader, “A Passage to India” is a multidimensional and very observant demonstration of mechanisms underlying the concepts of white prejudice, nature of modern racism, and coping mechanisms of racially discriminated individuals.

Working Thesis

In this paper, it is proposed to explore the theme of prejudice in the novel “A Passage to India” and its multi-layered nature since each of the main characters regardless of their nationality or gender is prejudiced against others in one way or another.

Rationale for Argument

In 1924 “A Passage to India” was viewed as an anti-British work. Today, the modern reader can see that the British are not the only prejudiced characters there, and the race is not the only aspect subject to judgments. The novel by Forster contains stereotypes considering gender roles, nationality, social division, marital status, and age.

Supporting Evidence for Argument

It first becomes visible in the second chapter where Aziz, Hamidullah, and Mahmoud Ali engage in a rather sarcastic argument considering the British men and women, and it is stated that coming to India, “they all become exactly the same, not worse, not better” (Forster 13). It is meant that under social pressure, even the decent and respectful English people become racist towards the natives.

The newcomers are generalized by the prejudiced Indians who refuse to accept the fact that some of the British people may be different. Forster’s novel is a glance into the past where the very roots of modern white privilege lie – the prejudice passed from parents to children through generations (Yousafzai and Khan 76).

The generalization of the English people is incomplete as the Indians divide them by gender. Women are viewed as especially intolerant, self-righteous (Pirnuta 380). Adela Quested serves as a good example of such a woman when she ignorantly asks Aziz a straightforward question assuming he has more than one wife because she is Muslim. Based on this, it becomes easier to understand the intolerance of Englishwomen. Shocked by the myths about harems and discrimination of women by men, they become especially judgmental.

Forster does not fail to bring up the gender inequality in the Indian society explaining that when it came to dinner of Hamidullah and the men, “until they had had their dinner, she would not begin hers” (15). Besides, in their dialogue about marriage Hamidullah expresses judgments towards a woman in her thirties who is unwed and is not likely to ever be taken.

At the end of the novel, it is mentioned that colonialist moods are the ultimate source of hostility between the two nations as they automatically position one nation as superior of the other (Baker 67). It seems like the natural herd instinct that remained a distinct human feature through hundreds of thousands of years was defeated by newly developed racial division, which made people divide into prejudiced groups (Sarker 439). This looks like a great demonstration of the power of prejudice.

Literary Terms that Will Most Likely be Used in the Paper

  • archetype
  • protagonist
  • myth
  • personification
  • postcolonial
  • irony
  • narrator

Timeline for Completion of Essay

The paper will most likely take three to four days, yet the processing of the sources for the paper and their availability may shorten this period.

Questions/Concerns about the Project

The task is clear, so no questions come to mind.

Annotated Bibliography

Baker, Ahmad Abu. “Rethinking Identity: The Colonizer in E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India.” Nebula 3. 2 (2006): 68-85. Print.

This work is focused on studying the relationships between the colonized and the colonizer, the nature of such interaction and its consequences. The concepts are explored as aspects of cultural philosophy and a basis for identity formation. This paper is significant because its author observes colonialism and imperialism as the phenomena with the influence that lasts for generations and impacts the further relationships between the nations and self-identification of the populations that were colonized.

Misra, Sikha. “Gender, Race, and Sexuality: Shifting Otherness in E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India.” E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India. Ed. Reena Mitra. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Dist, 2008. Print.

In this chapter, the author discusses the types of colonialist writing and qualifies Forster’s style “symbolic” with wise and fresh insights concerning the ways to overcome racial differences and the division of the society into Self and Other. This work is important for the paper because it offers the outlook on the subject from the political perspective and the power of prejudice as a force able to destroy the political relationships and undermine the whole empire.

Pirnuta, Oana-Andreea. Indian vs. British Cultural Aspects in E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India. Web. 

This study is focused on the exploration of cultural and psychological differences in the ways of thinking of the English and the Indian people in the novel “A Passage to India.” The mentality is viewed as a source of differences. This paper is important for the paper because it provides an insight into how two different cultures can become enemies with the help of propaganda and brainwashing designed to create stereotypes and prejudices.

Sarker, Sunil Kumar. E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Dist, 2007. Print.

This work and particularly its chapter called about Anglo-Indian relations in “A Passage to India,” provides detailed information about the author and his travelling experiences which served the basis for several books focused on the theme of racism within the phenomenon of colonization.

The insight about the development of races and the idea of racial division as a force stronger than the natural herd instinct is relevant to the paper and serves as a clever perspective on the roots of division in the society. The superiority moods typical for the colonizing side are shown as beliefs lying very deep in the consciousness of the English creating white privilege even in the individuals who do not view themselves as superior to the colonized nation.

Yousafzai, Gulzar Jalal and Qabil Khan. Rudeness, Race, Racism and Racialism in E.M. Forster’s “A Passage to India.” Dialogue 6. 1 (2011): 75-92. Print.

The authors of this paper provide and explanation of how the ignorance of the colonizers in India led to violations of human rights and deterioration of values. This paper is significant because it demonstrates to the power of prejudice enforced by means of propaganda and its impacts on the society, its division and creation of artificial complications for both sides and preventing to effective collaboration.