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Quotes

Quote #1

Margaret was silent. If her aunt could not see why she must go down, she was not going to tell her. She was not going to say "I love my dear sister; I must be near her at this crisis of her life." The affections are more reticent than the passions, and their expression more subtle. If she herself should ever fall in love with a man, she, like Helen, would proclaim it from the house-tops, but as she only loved a sister she used the voiceless language of sympathy. (2.7)

Early on, we see different kinds of love present in Forster's world; he's careful to show us the fine nuances between family love, romantic love, and love for other things, like one's country or home.

Quote #2

But the poetry of that kiss, the wonder of it, the magic that there was in life for hours after it--who can describe that? It is so easy for an Englishman to sneer at these chance collisions of human beings. To the insular cynic and the insular moralist they offer an equal opportunity. It is so easy to talk of "passing emotion," and how to forget how vivid the emotion was ere it passed. Our impulse to sneer, to forget, is at root a good one. We recognize that emotion is not enough, and that men and women are personalities capable of sustained relations, not mere opportunities for an electrical discharge. Yet we rate the impulse too highly. We do not admit that by collisions of this trivial sort the doors of heaven may be shaken open. To Helen, at all events, her life was to bring nothing more intense than the embrace of this boy who played no part in it. He had drawn her out of the house, where there was danger of surprise and light; he had led her by a path he knew, until they stood under the column of the vast wych-elm. A man in the darkness, he had whispered "I love you" when she was desiring love. In time his slender personality faded, the scene that he had evoked endured. In all the variable years that followed she never saw the like of it again. (4.5)

This long quote has a lot contained within it; first of all, Forster reminds us of what we all know – that we, humans (and more specifically, his English audience) are often wary of emotional moments. Though this is perhaps a wise way of looking at passion, it doesn't always work, and in our fervor for logic, we can forget how "love" can truly change lives forever. He then shows us how Helen's brush with passion changes her and her idea of romance forever.

Quote #3

Love, say the ascetics, reveals our shameful kinship with the beasts. Be it so: one can bear that; jealousy is the real shame. It is jealousy, not love, that connects us with the farmyard intolerably, and calls up visions of two angry cocks and a complacent hen. (16.47)

Love and jealousy – can the two really be spoken of separately? The narrator tries to distinguish between them here, saying that jealousy is a kind of animal instinct, while love is…well, something else, something more transcendent, apparently – but what?

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