Study Guide

Where Angels Fear to Tread Compassion and Forgiveness

By E. M. Forster

Compassion and Forgiveness

There aren't all that many compassionate or forgiving characters in Where Angels Fear To Tread. In fact, Forster spends a lot of time portraying characters who refuse to forgive each other for one reason or another. With petty characters like Mrs. Herriton and Harriet, it's not surprising that forgiveness isn't high on their list of admirable qualities. Miss Abbott, though, becomes the main figure of compassion in the novel, and paves the way for a more open-minded and tolerant outlook on the world.

Questions About Compassion and Forgiveness

  1. Is Mrs. Herriton capable of compassion, or is she too self-absorbed to put herself in other people's shoes? Given Philip's passivity and indifference to life, is he just as bad as his mother or is there hope for him to become a more understanding and empathetic person?
  2. In the confrontation scene between Philip and Gino, how does Miss Abbott manage to restore peace and get the two men to forgive each other?
  3. How would you describe Forster's portrayal of Miss Abbott as a figure of compassion?

Chew on This

Mrs. Herriton is too hypocritical to ever truly understand the meaning of compassion.

Forster implies that compassion is the only way for two conflicting cultures to find a common ground.

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