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Literature and Culture in 20th Century England: Bloomsbury

The author named EM Forester is a prolific writer and wrote the novel entitled “Howard’s End complete with literary elements like gender, form, plot and language. It may be true that the readers still disagree as to the meaning and tone of the last scenes of the novel but the author filled the story with images enough to convince a curious reader. Hence, I submit that the novel end on a note of ironic retreat since the last phrases that was said meant hope upside down.

The author of the novel experienced confusion as he wrote the same since personal experience taught him that gender issues must be resolved. It was during the time when the author reaches in 30 years old when he understood being masculine and feminine. In the Victorian perspective of gender, it can be said that the author was like having a woman’s soul trapped in a man’s body. The said situation faced by EM Forester was augmented by his company with a caring mother and aunt thereby he developed close relationship with women.

That is why the novel was developed as a battle of strength between men and women. The novel was ended with a tone of ironic retreat since there are so many ironic situations in the novel that the author carefully outlined in the progress of the story through the voice of the narrator. As foundation, the leading characters of the story are women surviving over certain thematic oppositions as well as ironic connections of the characters portraying gender issues at the same time.

There was even a part of the novel that the narrator addresses issues while using the word “us” which meant that the author wanted to invoke feminine perspective through the voce of the protagonist Margaret Schiegel. The story was about a woman who was married to a rich businessman who only views women as objects for recreation. It can be seen that there a wide disarray of masculine and feminine relationship in the story. The main protagonist then plays as the representative of the point of view of women.

There is ironic retreat in the ending of the novel because at the development of the story alone, various dialectical opposition between male and female, under which several others are subsumed. The irony is presented this way. The structure of the novel was presented in such a way that the theme and the plot develops constant power struggle between men and women. The opposing views are being poor or rich, having logic and vision, and portraying with words and intuition. While men adopts being rich, having logic, and expressing words in the story, women are set to be poor and helpless, having vision and possesses intuition.

It was said that women are viewed as poor because on the point of view of men, women are considered inferior in status. But it is so ironic since the protagonists of the story like Margaret and Helen are both rich and wealthy. The two women have great sympathy to the poor thereby interrogating and questioning class distinctions and divisions. Aside from that, the two groups of the story are the female protagonists and the male antagonists. The men are viewed as rich and always commit adultery.

The women are portrayed as able to get along well with others and see the real feelings and insights of a man. The natural thinking of a man is that logic is better than vision and words are powerful than intuition. Yet, in the story it was shown that vision is privileged over logic and intuition is looked up over word. In addition, it is worthy to examine the final words of Margaret since it is so problematic. This is so because definitive answers belong to the male-inscribed discourse of which the story seeks to destruct and destroy.

The irony there is that while Margaret is destroying the views towards men, she was acting the very inch of a woman in the story. At the latter part of the story, Margaret mentioned that she does not love children and she was so happy to have none in her life. The character and nature of a woman is maternal instincts and motherly care of which Margaret failed to portray as a character. Thus, Margaret’s comments about children are contradictory to building the character of a female gender. Aside from that, there was also evidence that there are dialectic oppositions of the story.

While women in the story wanted to debunk men’s character, Margaret still showed feelings and actions of a woman. When a man in a car hits a cat, Margaret jumps out of the car and one male character commented that Margaret had lost her nerve as any woman might. We can notice and judge that that was an honest retort of a male gender. Through the narrator, it can be detected by the readers that they could be frustrated by their personal continuous opposition and confusion with language, power and patriarchal relationships in the family.

We need to view into the last words of the novel in order to prove that had ended with a tone of ironic retreat. In the last part of the novel, Helen mentioned that “it will be such a crop of hay as never” (Forester 1). It was meant to prove that there should be a discovery of the beginning of possibility and hope. The ending also showed gestures like an open space likened to a field in June wherein none of the male antagonists could stand up against. It was a retort of a female character that demands justice over the dominion of men.

The closure of the story was intended to destroy barriers between men and women, rich and poor as well as in terms of regulations and code. As at the end of the story, Henry Wilcox who is the patriarch lies in the bed as he was suffering with hay fever corresponds to what had spoken by a female character that none of the Wilcoxes could stand up against an open space of a field in June. Hence, the irony is that, although the women in the story wanted to fight for their rights as equal citizens, they still silently wished that Henry Wilcox could survive.

Works Cited

Forester, EM.Despite the tidy narrative closure offered in the final pages of `Howards End`by EM Forester, readers still disagree as to the meaning and tone of these last scenes. Does the novel end on a note of fantasy, or cautious optimism, or ironic retreat? Do you detect one dominant note or message here? Or do you see contradictory messages? Analyze. ` dont engage in a lengthy plot recapitulation, but instead choose representative textual passages that help prove your point. May include the argument of Elizabeth Langland in `Gesturing Towards an Open Space` — HINT: particular attention to the final page.

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