A Passage to India door E.M. Forster

Beoordeling 0
Foto van een scholier
Boekcover A Passage to India
  • Boekverslag door een scholier
  • 5e klas vwo | 2261 woorden
  • 28 oktober 2020
  • nog niet beoordeeld
nog niet beoordeeld

Eerste uitgave
Geschikt voor
bovenbouw havo/vwo
4 uit 5
Oorspronkelijke taal
Literaire thema's

Boekcover A Passage to India
A Passage to India door E.M. Forster
Fix onze energie!

Studeer energie & techniek. Iedereen staat te springen om jou! We hebben namelijk veel technische toppers nodig die de energie van morgen fixen. Met een opleiding in energie & techniek ben je onmisbaar voor de toekomst. Check Power Up The Planet en ontdek welke opleiding het beste bij je past! 

Check Power Up The Planet!


Mrs. Moore travels with the young Adela Quested to Chandrapore in India, because she wants to find out if she really should marry Mrs. Moore's son Ronny Heaslop. When Mrs. Moore happens to meet the young Indian doctor Dr. Aziz in a mosque, who would like to learn as much as possible about the British way of life, they make friends, and Dr. Aziz also meets Miss Quested through Mrs. Moore. She wants to get to know the "true" India and tries to avoid the prejudices and social barriers of the British living in India. Dr. Aziz organizes a trip to the famous Marabar caves for Mrs. Moore and Adela. This trip, however, becomes a stroke of fate for him, which at the same time puts an extreme strain on the relations between Britons and Indians. Adela accuses Dr. Aziz of sexually harassing her during her visit to the cave, and Dr. Aziz is arrested. During the trial, however, Adela Quested withdraws her accusation. The acquitted Dr. Aziz withdraws angrily into a Hindu-Muslim community and refuses further contact with Britons. In the third part of the novel, Dr Aziz has taken up a position in a state ruled by Indians, where he lives in peace with his young family, writes poetry and reads Persian literature. He is visited by his former friend Mr. Fielding, who was once the head of Government College. They discuss the future of India, and Aziz predicts that he and Fielding can only become true friends when the British have left India.


The Evils of British Imperialism in India

The majority of Indians suffer humiliation and injustice under British rule. Major Callendar, the chief surgeon at Minto Hospital, and Mrs. Turton, the wife of the governor of Chandrapore, are among the most bigoted of the British occupiers. The British get the best jobs and hold the best government posts. Moreover, they treat the Indians as racially and culturally inferior and exclude them from their social circles. 


In separating themselves from the Indians socially, the British limit their opportunities to learn about Indian customs, religions, traditions, and so on. Consequently, many of them regard India as a "mystery" and a "muddle," in the words of the narrator. This attitude leads to misunderstandings and heightened tension between the English and the Indians. For example, Adela Quested unwittingly insults Dr. Aziz when she asks him whether he has more than one wife. She is unaware that such a question is out of bounds for an educated Muslim. British ignorance of the Indian ethos and psyche also leads to absurd generalizations, one of which is that dark-complexioned people lust after whites. It also leads to wrongful judgments on a personal level, such as Ronny Heaslop's unfounded assertion that Aziz is a "bounder" (scoundrel, cad, opportunist). 

The Difficulty of Achieving Unity Amid Diversity

It is difficult in India to achieve unity and harmony amid cultural and religious diversity—unity here meaning equality, friendship, brotherhood. Forster begins developing this theme early in the novel, when Mahmoud Ali asserts that it is impossible for an Englishman and an Indian to become friends. Hamidullah counters that he did become friends with a British family while he was studying at Cambridge University in England. He qualifies his rebuttal, however, by saying that such an Indian-British friendship can happen only in England. After their arrival in India, Mrs. Moore and Miss Quested actively seek friendship with Indians. They succeed—for a while, at least. But their planned visit to the home of a Hindu family, the Bhattacharya's, falls through. Moreover, their genial relationship with Dr. Aziz ends after the visit to the Marabar Caves, where they hear diverse sounds echoed back as a single sound. (For information on the significance of the sound, see The Caves, The Cave Echo, The Echo as a Hindu Sound.) Adela then becomes Aziz's enemy after accusing him of sexual assault at the caves. Mrs. Moore remains his supporter in the days leading up to his trial, but she leaves India just when he needs her most. Cyril Fielding, the principal of Government College, befriends Indians throughout the novel. But his friendship with Aziz also suffers after a misunderstanding following the trial. The Nawab Bahadur, once on good terms with the British, sours toward them as a result of the trial. 

Religious Rivalry

Muslims and Hindus have always been—and continue to be—antagonists in India. In A Passage to India, the relationship between Dr. Aziz, a Muslim, and Dr. Panna Lal, a Hindu underscores the tension between Muslims and Hindus. Aziz and Lal despise each other, and Lal agrees to testify against Aziz at the trial. Throughout the novel, Aziz—though deeply insulted by British prejudice against Indians—frequently deprecates Hindus with unfounded generalizations in the same way that the British find fault with the native populace. Of the Bhattacharya family, he says, "Slack Hindus—they have no idea of society; I know them very well because of a doctor [Panna Lal] at the hospital. Such a slack, unpunctual fellow!" Aziz—and no doubt many other Indians—also object to Christian proselytizing, as a passage in Chapter 9 indicates. Aziz is lying sick in bed when he could hear church bells as he drowsed, both from the civil station and from the missionaries out beyond the slaughter house—different bells and rung with different intent, for one set was calling firmly to Anglo-India [the British], and the other feebly to mankind. He did not object to the first set; the other he ignored, knowing their inefficiency. Old Mr. Gaylord and Young Mr. Sorley [Christian missionaries] made converts during a famine, because they distributed food; but when times improved they were naturally left alone again, and though surprised and aggrieved each time this happened, they never learnt wisdom.

Het boekverslag gaat verder na deze boodschap.

Verder lezen
Gids Eindexamens

Alles wat je moet weten over de eindexamens


The final section of the novel—which takes place in the Hindu city of Mau, to which Aziz has relocated—offers hope for a better future. First, Muslim Aziz receives help from Hindu Godbole. Muslims and Hindus are rivals, but Aziz and Godbole demonstrate that traditional antagonists can get along when they treat each other with respect and live together as equals. Second, Aziz reconciles with Cyril Fielding and befriends Mrs. Moore's son, Ralph. However, Aziz cautions Fielding that they will never have a lasting friendship until the English leave India. 


Dit wil je ook lezen:

Dr. Aziz: Young Indian surgeon and dedicated Muslim. He is the novel's protagonist. Along with his Indian friends, he objects to the British presence in India. However, he befriends the few English who treat him with respect. He highly values his reputation and is extremely sensitive about what others think of him. Although he assists the chief Civil Surgeon of Chandrapore, Major Callendar, Aziz is the more skillful medical practitioner. He is a widower with three children. Aziz is the defendant in a sensational trial in which an Englishwoman, Adela Quested, accuses him of sexual assault. Although he is acquitted, suspicion of him lingers—especially among the British. 

Mrs. Moore: Elderly Englishwoman who travels to India to see her son by her first marriage, Ronny Heaslop, the city magistrate of Chandrapore. After her husband died, she remarried and had two more children, Ralph and Stella Moore. She respects the Indians and their culture and becomes friends with Aziz. A visit to the mysterious Marabar Caves near Chandrapore profoundly affects her attitude about religion and life in general. 

Adela Quested: Young English schoolmistress who is considering marrying Ronny Heaslop. She accompanies Mrs. Moore to India and tells her after their arrival that she wants to see the "real India." Like Mrs. Moore, she undergoes a profound change after visiting the Marabar Caves. Miss Quested becomes the plaintiff in a sensational trial after accusing Dr. Aziz of sexual assault in one of the caves. 

Ronny Heaslop: Son of Mrs. Moore by her first marriage and City Magistrate of Chandrapore. Unlike his mother, he scorns the Indians as woefully inferior to the British.

Cyril Fielding: Principal of the British government's college for Indians. He is the one English official who accepts and befriends the Indians and, in so doing, earns their admiration and trust. However, a misunderstanding temporarily estranges him from his good friend Aziz. At the end of the novel, he reconciles with Aziz but angers him after he mocks Aziz's view that India will one day become a united nation free of British rule. 

Major Callendar: Chief Civil Surgeon of Chandrapore and Aziz's workplace superior. He is a thoroughgoing bigot who despises all Indians.

Mrs. Callendar: Wife of Major Callendar and militantly anti-Indian.

Harry Turton: English governor of Chandrapore and its tax collector. He is prejudiced against the Indians but pretends to respect them. Turton arranges a party at which Mrs. Moore and Adela Quested can meet Indians.

Mary Turton: Openly racist wife of Turton.

Hamidullah: Uncle and friend of Aziz. Hamidullah was educated at Cambridge University in England. He believes it is possible for an Indian to befriend an Englishman—but only in England, not in India.


  1. M. Forster took the title of the novel from American author Walt Whitman's poem “Passage to India," published in 1871. The word passage refers to the Suez Canal, the 121-mile-waterway that connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. When the canal opened on November 17, 1869, ships from England and other European countries could reach the Orient without sailing around Africa. Whitman's poem celebrates the canal as a great engineering achievement. More important, though, it hails the canal as a means to improve communication between East and West and thereby foster cultural, spiritual, and social interaction benefiting everyone. (Whitman's poem also hails the 1866 completion of the transatlantic cable between North America and Europe and the 1869 completion of the transcontinental railroad between the eastern and western United States.)


 The time is the early twentieth century, probably about 1920. The novel begins in Chandrapore, a fictional Indian city along the Ganges River. Forster appears to have modeled Chandrapore after Bankipur, a community near the city of Patna in the state of Bihar in northeastern India. The narrator says Chandrapore “presents nothing extraordinary" and “trails for a couple of miles along the [river] bank, scarcely distinguishable from the rubbish it deposits so freely." Other scenes in India take place (1) aboard a train traveling from Chandrapore to the Marabar Caves, a distance of twenty miles; (2) at a picnic site in front of the caves, (3) inside the caves; (4) on a train traveling from Chandrapore to Bombay (Mumbai), and (5) in the city of Mau, several hundred miles west of Chandrapore. 

In Chapter 29, the setting shifts to a ship sailing from Bombay to Port Said, Egypt. In Chapter 30, the setting shifts back to India. In Chapter 32, the scene shifts briefly to Egypt, Crete, and Venice, Italy, before returning to India in Chapter 33. 


There is a historical aspect to this novel as well as a religious one. Forster's premise seems to be that no nation can subjugate another without inflicting wounds that leave deep scars. No nation can be of service so long as the ruling nation holds itself superior and aloof. The book is not a strictly historical account, of course, because Forster is more concerned with social relationships than he is with history. But he does indicate the spirit of rebellion that is beginning to build in India and shows the English losing their grip on the government. The last few paragraphs of the novel seem almost prophetic of Indian independence, which did not take place until 22 years after the book's publication.



There is a historical aspect to this novel as well as a religious one. Forster's premise seems to be that no nation can subjugate another without inflicting wounds that leave deep scars. No nation can be of service so long as the ruling nation holds itself superior and aloof. The book is not a strictly historical account, of course, because Forster is more concerned with social relationships than he is with history. But he does indicate the spirit of rebellion that is beginning to build in India and shows the English losing their grip on the government. The last few paragraphs of the novel seem almost prophetic of Indian independence, which did not take place until 22 years after the book's publication.


The mood of the novel is serious and analytical, with bits of comic relief, often at the expense of native characters. There is also a sense of despondency, suspense, and foreboding. 


Modernism, Literary Fiction

Forster's A Passage to India is perhaps the most Modernist of his novels with its emphasis on the complex interior life of the characters, experimentation with interweaving, complicated plots, use of recurring images and symbols, and its questioning of conventional modes of representing reality, as the novel constantly emphasizes that whatever we call reality is an elusive commodity. These qualities also establish the novel as literary fiction, and the novel is often considered Forster's masterpiece.


This is my first E.M. Forster book, and definitely will not be my last. His style seems to be a bridge between late Victorian and early modernist, and it is obvious that he is not quite sure which way to go. It is beautifully written, perhaps a little too beautifully written. The characters are fully formed, yet somehow leave you unaffected by the tight reign the author has on their every thought. Forster's take on the complexity of the racial situation in colonialist India is as fair-minded as a British male at the time could hope to make it. Some characters are marvelously drawn; others are walking pieces of cardboard. I feel that if Forster had allowed the three main voices in the book a little more freedom to act without his informing us why, the tale would be much closer to the designation of "masterpiece" it has somehow been given. Worth a read, but a far more insignificant work than its reputation allows.






Log in om een reactie te plaatsen of maak een profiel aan.

Andere verslagen van "A Passage to India door E.M. Forster"