Written in 1910, Howards End is a classic pre-World War I text, and its setup of English-German tensions is practically a textbook example of the kinds of national anxieties that led to the war. Though your AP Euro book might tell you that World War I started when Archduke Ferdinand assassinated, we can see from Forster's novel and other works of its time that the was basically waiting to happen for a long while; the political issues at hand are illustrated in a more individual, cultural light here as a personal struggle between Englishness and German-ness.
Questions About Patriotism
- Does Forster privilege England over Germany? Or vice versa?
- How are both of the competing nations here represented?
- How does Forster use his characters to play out the national tensions between England and Germany?
Chew on This
While he avoids direct engagement with political situations, Forster's novel is largely concerned with the developing tensions between England and Germany as actors on the imperial stage.
Forster's depiction of the English and German character types in his novel encourages an idealistic revision of history – national conflict is resolved here through personal connections.