Study Guide

Where Angels Fear to Tread Duty

By E. M. Forster

Duty

In Where Angels Fear to Tread, Forster shows us English society as overly conventional, stuffy, and way too concerned with good manners. Within the Sawston community, one of the most important rules of manners is always doing your duty. For example, the Herritons all expect Lilia to do her duty as a wife and a mother by settling into domestic life. For many of the character in the novel, duty is equivalent to moral goodness, but Forster is very critical of characters that blindly follow the call of duty.

Questions About Duty

  1. Why is "doing one's duty" such an important rule in the Herriton household? What do they think will happen if they shirk their duties?
  2. Are there characters that fail to do their duty? What are the consequences of their decisions? Why does Forster suggest that duty runs in oppostion to happiness?
  3. What happens when duty is used to justify morally questionable actions? Does this open the door to hypocrisy and wrongdoings?

Chew on This

In the world that Forster creates, desires never match up with the dutiful, socially correct thing to do; he depicts a society where duty is divorced from happiness.

Mrs. Herriton is so blinded by the compulsion to do her duty that she fails to consider the potentially negative consequences that her actions might have on those around her.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...