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The Linguistic Architecture of E. M. Forsters Howards End

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Park, Yeajung

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서울대학교 인문대학 영어영문학과
영학논집, Vol.33, pp. 37-52
E. M. ForsterHowards Endlanguagenamingindeterminacysocial classnarration
Forsters novel Howards End provides a playful look into the arbitrary and sometimes inconsistent nature of names and denotations, challenging a simple view of language that expects plain answers to plain questions.
Forster poses mix-ups of seemingly definite proper names that in fact have more than one referent, and likewise, referents that are assigned radically different names by different people. A worldview based on apparently solid and homogeneous types and classes leads to many cases of such confusion,
which in Forsters novel brings not only short moments of embarrassment but also much personal sorrow and full-scale disaster. Refusing to draw a world that can be neatly organized in familiar terms, Forster breaks frames (both literally and metaphorically), commenting that frames can be dangerously
strengthened by the gutter press of facile repetition even when they are not true. As the novels main protagonist Margaret matures, her admiration shifts
from the definiteness of the self-assured Henry Wilcox to Ruth Wilcoxs misty, indefinite, and open stance. Faced with situations where one cannot simply
choose one thing or the other, Margaret goes as far as to accept the way of madness rather than continue to be a determined follower of the given norm. The values that had been assured by definite language are discovered to be as arbitrary as those in a pack of playing cards, and meaning continuously
misfires. As symbolized by Margarets interpretation of the architecture of the house Howards End, whose rooms are always interchangeable and open to renaming, the text of Howards End promotes the value of indeterminacy as a safeguard against unwitting violence and also as a guide to an understanding founded not upon what language dictates, but in what it leaves unphrased.
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