Study Guide

Howards End What's Up With the Ending?

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What's Up With the Ending?

The ending of Howards End contains multitudes – it seems incredibly simple in some ways (a family reunion, a plan for the future, a new hope – sounds almost like Star Wars when you put it that way), but in others, it's intensely complicated. Basically, we leave the Wilcox-Schlegels back at Howards End, the house that's at the heart of the whole novel, where they've all learned to make some kind of peace with each other, even if it's a somewhat grudging one. On one hand, there's a kind of unifying, cosmic justice at work here – as Dolly thoughtlessly comments, the first Mrs. Wilcox had wanted Margaret to have Howards End to begin with, and now, in the end, she gets it. On the other hand, there's an interesting sense that the old order (represented by the domineering, hyper-masculine, imperialistic Wilcoxes) has been fragmented, and either swept away or absorbed into the new, liberal, feminized world of the Schlegels.

It's an ending that is simultaneously unsettling and optimistic, in which we can only hope that the world that Helen's fatherless child will venture into will be ready for him. The general idea is, a new kind of England has emerged out of the convoluted events of the novel, and is represented by Helen's baby, who's an ultimate combination of all of the different social classes and circumstances Forster throws together in the novel.

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