by E.M. Forster
Howards End Society and Class Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"Esprit de classe"--if one may coin the phrase--was strong in Mrs. Munt. She sat quivering while a member of the lower orders deposited a metal funnel, a saucepan, and a garden squirt beside the roll of oilcloth. (3.27)
Despite the fact that Aunt Juley is fuming with rage, her class awareness is so strong that she won't let the lower class shopman see her in a state of emotional upheaval.
If only he could talk like this, he would have caught the world. Oh to acquire culture! Oh, to pronounce foreign names correctly! Oh, to be well informed, discoursing at ease on every subject that a lady started! But it would take one years. With an hour at lunch and a few shattered hours in the evening, how was it possible to catch up with leisured women, who had been reading steadily from childhood? (5.30)
Leonard is overwhelmed by the cultural wealth of the Schlegels – he is limited by his own social background, and feels as though he could never possibly catch up.
The boy, Leonard Bast, stood at the extreme verge of gentility. He was not in the abyss, but he could see it, and at times people whom he knew had dropped in, and counted no more. He knew that he was poor, and would admit it: he would have died sooner than confess any inferiority to the rich. This may be splendid of him. But he was inferior to most rich people, there is not the least doubt of it. He was not as courteous as the average rich man, nor as intelligent, nor as healthy, nor as lovable. His mind and his body had been alike underfed, because he was poor, and because he was modern they were always craving better food. Had he lived some centuries ago, in the brightly coloured civilizations of the past, he would have had a definite status, his rank and his income would have corresponded. But in his day the angel of Democracy had arisen, enshadowing the classes with leathern wings, and proclaiming, "All men are equal--all men, that is to say, who possess umbrellas," and so he was obliged to assert gentility, lest he slipped into the abyss where nothing counts, and the statements of Democracy are inaudible. (6.2)
Poor Leonard. Forster condemns him to a lifetime of inferiority in this single paragraph, based on his problematic existence between classes – he's not at the extreme lower end of the spectrum, and is just genteel enough to have the desire to possess what the rich have…culture.