Study Guide

Perfetta in Where Angels Fear to Tread

By E. M. Forster

Perfetta

Perfetta is Gino's widowed cousin and has, according to the narrator, no "social aspirations," so she helps out around the house as "factotum" (that's someone who does all kinds of work). She is partially deaf, or more accurately, has selective hearing (she only listens to what she wants to hear and ignores the rest).

She plays a minor role in the novel, mostly just as the person who lets people in and out of Gino's home, but she does sympathize with Lilia when Gino's temper flares up. After Lilia's death, Perfetta helps Gino take care of his son, but Gino complains to Miss Abbott that she "washes him [his son] just as she washes clothes. Then he screams for hours" (7.121). Perfetta seems to be effective with household chore, but lacks the nurturing, maternal instinct that good child-rearing would require.

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