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Howards End

Howards End

by E.M. Forster

Wealth Theme

The brutal truth is, money matters. Howards End recognizes this horrible fact, though not all of its characters choose to admit it. The novel constantly demonstrates the need to balance ideals and practical concerns, and the main practical concern here is the acquisition, investment, and dispensation of funds. The problem, however, is the failure of some of the characters to see that worldly issues, like wealth, aren't necessarily incompatible with philosophical ones – the struggle they, and we, face throughout the book is how to reconcile these two sides of life.

Questions About Wealth

  1. Does love or money win at the end of the novel? Or neither?
  2. Does the novel ultimately pose any solutions to characters like Leonard and Jacky, or does it just leave them in the lurch?
  3. Do we get any sense throughout the novel that the dire situation posed here – the rich stay rich, while the poor get poorer – will ever be improved?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Though the end of Howards End is seemingly optimistic, it leaves the problem of financial disparity entirely unresolved; while Helen's child may be the spiritual heir to England, the Wilcox-Schlegel family's escape to the disappearing countryside fails to address the problems of social injustice created by the economic circumstances shown throughout the novel.

While Howards End appears to embrace an idealistic social stance – summed up in Margaret's mantra, "Only connect!" – it is fundamentally pessimistic about the social predetermination of wealth, which it views as inevitable and, furthermore, unstoppable.

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