E M Forster and the British Raj in a Passage to India Essay

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The early years of the twentieth century saw the rise of the novel as a popular genre in the literature of the war-struck Edwardian England. Novelists like Joseph Conrad, E.M.Forster, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and D.H. Lawrence gave the form new dimensions. Among these writers E.M. Forster made a mark in the literature of his age through his last novel A Passage to India (1924), which was entirely different from Forster's other novels in that it dealt with the political occupation of India by the British, a colonial domination that ended soon after the publication of this novel. Forster, a liberal and humanist in outlook, emphasised the importance of love and understanding at the personal level in this novel.

Edward Morgan Forster
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The novel dealt with the misunderstandings between the English and the Indians in the British India of 1910-20. The British East India Company, who had come to India in 1600, established themselves as the rulers of India. Though the natives revolted against the foreign rule as during the Revolt of 1857, they were suppressed and India was made a colony of the British Empire in 1858. A bureaucratic colonial system was established in India known as the British Raj with Queen Victoria as the Empress of India. The British Raj divided India into British India under the control of the British government and independent Indian states ruled by the Indian princes. The growth of nationalism made the Hindus and Muslims unite in a campaign of non-cooperation against the British Government. With the First World War the power of Britain as an imperial nation decreased and led to the dissolution of the British Raj in India.

In A Passage to India Forster explored various themes like friendship between the ruler and the ruled, the incompatibility of different cultures, the hollowness of religion, the need for humanism and the divisions made by man among men. But the keynote of Forster's approach is "to understand India" (Das, page 81). The city of Chandra pore in the British India was where Forster laid his scene- the microcosm of British India.
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