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Quotes

Quote #1

A block of flats, constructed with extreme cheapness, towered on either hand. Farther down the road two more blocks were being built, and beyond these an old house was being demolished to accommodate another pair. It was the kind of scene that may be observed all over London, whatever the locality--bricks and mortar rising and falling with the restlessness of the water in a fountain, as the city receives more and more men upon her soil. Camelia Road would soon stand out like a fortress, and command, for a little, an extensive view. Only for a little. Plans were out for the erection of flats in Magnolia Road also. And again a few years, and all the flats in either road might be pulled down, and new buildings, of a vastness at present unimaginable, might arise where they had fallen. (6.6)

The changeability of the urban landscape is one of the most prominent themes of Howards End – Forster is clearly concerned about the shifting physical world of London at his moment in time. The idea that the world as we know is always undergoing transformation is both fascinating and horrifying to both the narrator and the characters.

Quote #2

London had done the mischief, said others. She had been a kind lady; her grandmother had been kind, too--a plainer person, but very kind. Ah, the old sort was dying out! (11.1)

This passage, which refers to what the villagers of Hilton think upon Mrs. Wilcox's death, indicates that a certain order is passing away – the "old sort" referred to here is a kind of Englishness, a sort of good, solid, old fashioned national character that's endangered by modern urban life.

Quote #3

Looking back on the past six months, Margaret realized the chaotic nature of our daily life, and its difference from the orderly sequence that has been fabricated by historians. Actual life is full of false clues and sign-posts that lead nowhere. With infinite effort we nerve ourselves for a crisis that never comes. The most successful career must show a waste of strength that might have removed mountains, and the most unsuccessful is not that of the man who is taken unprepared, but of him who has prepared and is never taken. On a tragedy of that kind our national morality is duly silent. It assumes that preparation against danger is in itself a good, and that men, like nations, are the better for staggering through life fully armed. The tragedy of preparedness has scarcely been handled, save by the Greeks. Life is indeed dangerous, but not in the way morality would have us believe. It is indeed unmanageable, but the essence of it is not a battle. It is unmanageable because it is a romance, and its essence is romantic beauty. (12.12)

This observation of Margaret's (then taken over and expanded on by the narrator) points to an interesting theme in this book – the idea that we can't really plan for life, for it never unfolds the way it should. Things change, but never exactly how we think they will, and no matter how prepared we are, we're never ready for them.

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