The message of Howards End is wrapped up in Margaret's mantra, "Only connect." What, you may ask, does this really mean? It's simple: love. This novel is all about love – all kinds of love: love between siblings, love between husbands and wives, love between kindred spirits, love of home, love for one's country…basically, love for anything and everything. Love may not be all you need (money's pretty important, too – check out another theme, "Wealth"), but it's pretty darn important. The fear that humans don't love each other enough anymore is pressing here, and the novel challenges us to try and love others and ourselves more.
Questions About Love
- What different kinds of love do we see at work in the novel?
- Is love truly the most important thing of all, or are there other possibilities presented here?
- Do any of these characters actually achieve true love?
- How might we define "love" for the different types of people we see here? For Margaret? For Helen? For Mr. Wilcox?
Chew on This
Though the idea of love is a central theoretical concept in Howards End, the novel is largely concerned with its failures, rather than successes.
At the novel's end, the transcendent nature of love (and its capability for forgiveness) presents the only ray of hope for a changing England.