Connection in Forster’s Howards End Essay

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The epigraph of E.M. Forster's novel Howards End is just two words: "only connect". As economical as this gesture seems, critics and interpreters have made much of this succinct epigraph and the theme of connection in Howards End. Stephen Land, for example, cites a:

demand for connection, in the sense of moving freely between the two Forsterian worlds - the two "sides of the hedge", the everyday world of social norms and the arcadian or paradisal world of individual self-realization - has its roots in earlier stories..." [1]

He goes on to say that "each [character] must reconcile or connect for himself the range of conceptual polarities exposed by the story - prose and passion, seen and unseen, masculine and feminine,
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She would only point out the salvation that was latent in his own soul and in the soul of every man. Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die. [3]

Margaret worries over Henry's reaction to her sister's pregnancy; tries to make him see that Helen's "sin" is no different from his own past infidelity. She wants him to see the connection - yet this passage pleads for more than just a literal connection. Prose and passion! Beast and monk! Human love will be seen at its height! These are beautiful and weighted words. This is not a sermon about social justice. Margaret wants transcendence, both for Henry and herself. She wants the unfragmented whole. The "connection" proposed is loftier and uncorrupted:

Margaret greeted her lord with peculiar tenderness on the morrow. Mature as he was, she might yet be able to help him to the building of the rainbow bridge that should connect the prose in us with the passion. Without it we are meaningless fragments, half monks, half beasts, unconnected arches that have never joined into a man. With it love is born, and alights on the highest curve, glowing against the grey, sober against the fire. Happy the man who sees from either
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