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EB Ver Hoeve's picture

The Intellectual World

First of all, I am really enjoying Howard’s End.  Pride and Prejudice is my ultimate favorite book and the key elements that I connected to in it-such as witty humor, social commentary, and the role of women-are also becoming significant aspects in Howard’s End.  One of these themes, the role of women, has become particularly interesting to me.  In examining Margaret and Helen, one of the most obvious observations is their sophisticated understanding and appreciation for the arts and discourse.  Truthfully, I found the way Forster crafted the images and dialogues in the chapter about Beethoven’s Fifth to be beautifully constructed and also very telling about these two women.  It is clear from the beginning that the sisters have enough money that financial worries should never have to cross their minds.  And because of this, these women are able to enter into, explore, and conquer the world of intellectual knowledge.  And I will admit, many times I find myself thinking that if I ever had to debate literature with Margaret or Helen, I would be extremely intimidated.  They are so impressive in their perspectives of art, music, and literature. 

However, as the sisters come closer and closer to their deadline for a new house, we start to see that they have an extremely hard time trying to multitask their intellectual lives with the practicality of getting a new home.  In fact, as Margaret mentioned several times, she was often unable to pursue several leads on new homes because it would have been such a “sin” to miss the opera.  Therefore, it seems rather ironic when they criticize Mr. Bass for being unable to ever comprehend the intellectual world- because they themselves find it impossible to manage in the practical world.

The sisters’ acquired knowledge must therefore largely be attributed to the fact that they don’t have to clutter their minds with things like money.  However, I still think their ability to communicate intellectually with anyone they meet is a very impressive talent.  I would love to have tea with them.

~EB

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