Study Guide

Where Angels Fear to Tread Visions of Italy

By E. M. Forster

Visions of Italy

Forster portrays Italy as a country of romance and adventure, a place to escape the stuffy, hypocritical conventions of English society. Many of the characters feel liberated the minute they step onto Italian soil, and they are immediately swept up by the warmth and charm of the country and its people. But, especially in Where Angels Fear To Tread, Forster doesn't paint Italy as the most perfect place on earth. Italy has its own flaws, and the novel explores the challenges of what happens when the values of two cultures (England and Italy) clash with each other.

Questions About Visions of Italy

  1. What makes Italy so different from England? Why do so many of the characters in the novel see Italy as a place to escape the confines of English society?
  2. Does Lilia experience a true self-transformation in Italy, or does she, as Miss Abbott puts it, merely change "one groove for another"?
  3. Philip's opinion of Italy vacillates back and forth throughout the novel—one minute, he loves it; the next minute, he hates it. How do we explain his constant shifts in opinion? Is he being inconsistent or does Italy bring out conflicting emotions in people?

Chew on This

Italy offers exactly the change of scene from Sawston that Lilia and Miss Abbott are looking for, but they have to be careful what they wish for. As much as Forster romanticizes Italy, he also shows the danger of getting too swept up by your imagination that you lose sight of reality.

The openness of Italy is the opposite of dull, conventional England, but Forster doesn't portray Italians as flawless individuals.

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