Adela Quested: Character Analysis in A Passage To India

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      Does Adela deserve the rank of heroine of the novel? This has been disputed by most of the critics. A Passage to India is described as a strange type of novel, for it does not have the conventional type of heroine to support its plot. Adela vanishes from the story before it reaches the end. It shows that she is meant simply to be one of the most important characters in the book and not the heroine.

Physical Appearance

      Adela possessed plain and unattractive looks. She was young and amiable but lacked that charm of youth which could draw young men to her. Ronny wanted to marry her because his mother had brought her from England for the purpose of marriage with him. Ronny was so much engrossed in his official business that he had little time for courtship and love. Fielding called her a prig when Aziz asked him to marry Adela. Dr. Aziz also found her unattractive because of her freckled face and flat breasts.

A Careful Girl

      Adela came to India along with Mrs. Moore to meet her fiance, Ronny Heaslop. Before deciding to marry him, she watched him and Ronny had become a cog in the wheel of British imperialism. He had no love for the natives and behaved like a well-tamed pet. She was, therefore, in a fix, whether to marry him or not. She rejected him once and accepted him later with some reservations and misgivings. She did not like to become a snob like the other English ladies.

She Wanted to Understand India

      Adela wanted to see India, that is why she had come all the way with Mrs. Moore to know India. She wanted to marry Ronny not because she loved him but because she would have the opportunity to live in India and to serve the people of India. However, she was not quite clear in her mind about her stay in India. When she was asked about her stay in India, her reply was "it is not likely."

She Wanted to Know India without Knowing the Indians

      It was something very strange that Adela wanted to know India without knowing the Indians She felt that she knew all about love, life and death, whereas the fact in this regard was that it was derived merely from books. Her test came when she entered the Marabar Caves. After the incident in the cave, she should have waited and verified whether something actually happened. She could have come to Lady Moore and explained the whole thing to her. Instead, she hurried to the police station and without knowing what really happened, lodged a complaint of criminal assault against Dr. Aziz. She invited untold sufferings not only for Aziz but also for herself. It clearly revealed that she lacked Nines. Moore's intuition and sympathy. Without these qualities, it was very difficult to understand persons belonging to a different race.

Adela Suffered from Illusion

      Adela entered the caves with thoughts of her marriage with Ronny. Marriage without love was tantamount to rape. In such an atmosphere she put awkward questions to Aziz. She asked him how many wives he had, and what were his views about marriage? Adela failed to find out how much horror her questions have caused to Dr. Aziz. Aziz let go her hand as he felt confused and baffled. She entered one of the caves and came out aghast without being certain about the happening. Her confession before the magistrate that Aziz did not follow her in the cave proved in a way that Aziz was innocent and that Adela might have undergone an illusion. She brought ruin upon her head and had to leave for England soon.

Courageous and Truthful

      Adela may be accused of confusion after the Marabar Caves incident but the fact must be appreciated that the courage and truth lying dormant for a while in her feminine frame came to the fore at the right moment and saved an innocent soul (Aziz) that had been so kind to her.

Adela's Sense of Repentance

      Adela felt repentant over what she had done to Aziz. She wrote a letter of apology to Aziz for causing harassment to him. She bravely accepted her defeat in personal relationships. She also accepted calmly her rejection by Ronny. No one except Fielding appreciated her noble act. She assured Fielding that she would be all right when she reached England, and settled down to a career. But the remorse constantly haunted her and she did not know how to compensate for the harm done to India.


1. "Miss Adela Quested is a mysterious type of a woman who in the first phase of her life does play the role of a dauntlessly courageous and perfectly balanced heroine, but afterward sinks into her own inferiority complex." Do you agree with this statement?

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