Cyril Fielding: Character Analysis - in A Passage To India

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      Cyril Fielding plays a highly significant role in the novel. He was a modern man, suave, sympathetic and an agnostic, having a clear vision of life. In the beginning, he is shown as a bachelor in the middle forties and working as Principal of the Government College in Chandrapore. Towards the end of the novel, he appears as a man who is still in the educational service but married and having fewer friends. He had traveled widely and had met different kinds of people at different stages of his life. During his journey from Bombay to Chandrapore he met two passengers in the train, one a fresher to the East like himself, the other an old Anglo-Indian of his own age. Both of them were different from him. Fielding is the central figure that sets the whole plot in motion. But for him, the novel would have been a poor attempt at Anglo-Indian fiction.


      Fielding was an affectionate man. He felt that it was more important to conceive an idea than to produce a child. He was always ready to help people and to seek friendship with others. If others responded to his gestures, he was happy, however, he was not sad if they did not respond to him. He did not marry till he was in the middle forties.

A Seasoned Personality

      Fielding was an educationist and devoted most of his time to this noble profession. He was quite popular with his pupils. He was taken in a procession by his students after Aziz had been acquitted by the magistrate. He gave great importance to the "give and take" in conversation. Like Mrs. Moore, he was free from racial prejudice and liked to mix freely with the Indians. He was not interested in the club where he did not see eye to eye with the other Englishmen. He believed in the brother-hood of man and was totally against racial prejudice and hatred. He was a scholar and a very well polished gentleman.

An Atheist

      Fielding was an atheist. He did not believe in God. He confessed it before Aziz and told him that most of the people in England were atheists. This belief might have been the result of his being jilted by a woman whom he loved while young. This, however, must not be construed to mean that he did not possess any values of life. He is the only character in the novel who has high values and has the stamina to uphold them at any cost, even against heavy odds.

Less Popular with Ladies

      Fielding did not know how to humor English ladies and was not liked by them. He could not win their favor because he never advised them about their dogs or other pets. He would go to the club, play a game or two and come back. He was reserved and kept a respectable distance, as was required of a learned person. He never invited English ladies to his college nor did they care to come. He invited Mrs. Moore and Adela Quested because they were newcomers and were sympathetic to the natives. He disapproved of snobbish women. Most of the English women who came to India, became 'pacca memsahibs' within a few months. They would consider themselves superior and hate the Indians. Fielding could tolerate anything else but not this nonsense. He was, therefore, not regarded as a 'pacca sahib' by these English ladies.

Balanced and Impulsive

      On the whole, Fielding was balanced in his views and temperament. But on occasions he could be impulsive. He called Miss Adela Quested a prig. He had no liking for her. He disliked Ronny Heaslop as Ronny was insensitive to the good values of life. He did not like any of the other English officials either because of prejudice against the Indians. The other Englishmen thought that he was of no use. They met at the club, sat in conferences, decided on fundamental questions and came to important conclusions without Mr. Fielding.

A Man of Extraordinary Courage

      Fielding was a man of extraordinary courage. During the trial of Dr. Aziz, he was the only Englishman who refused to toe the British line, as he felt that the English attitude was based on the white man's herd instinct. He kept patience, devoured facts, suggested many hypotheses, explored various causes and finally came to the conclusion that Aziz was innocent and that Miss Adela Quested had made a mistake. He showed a remarkable sense of a lawyer and the standing of a soldier. He possessed the qualities of a hero.

He loved the Indians

      At the party arranged by the Collector he freely mixed with the natives whereas other Englishmen were busy arranging tea for their ladies. It was here that he invited Mrs. Moore and Adela Quested to tea at his residence with a promise to introduce them to some prominent Indians. The party which Mr. Fielding arranged for his Indian and English friends was more successful than the one given by the Collector. Aziz arrived early and his embarrassment was quickly removed by the warmth and cordiality of Fielding. Both became friends. He asked Aziz to redeem his promise by arranging for a picnic. He also helped Aziz to get leave from Major Callendar.

A Real Patriot

      Fielding was a true patriot because he was the real cultural ambassador of his country. He represented the best of the English way of life. The other Englishmen called him unpatriotic because of his free mixing with the Indians. He was not considered a true 'Sahib' because he did not assume airs which other officers did. The officials of Chandrapore wrote against him to the higher authorities and forced him to go on a long leave. They called him unpatriotic, which he was not. In England, all his friends were Englishmen and they were very good friends. It was only in India that he could not get an English friend and the fault was not his.

The Only Good Englishman

      Amongst the group of haters, he was the only Englishman who did not hate men-white or black. If he hated anything, he hated hypocrisy, chicanery, racial prejudice, pusillanimity and deception. He was honest, brave, truthful, sincere and human. Whatever he said, he did. He did not believe in slogans, rather he believed in real and constructive work of bridging the gap between the Britishers and. the Indians.

Something Lacking

      During the last forty years he had his best to live on advanced European lines. He developed his personality. Conscious of his limitations, he controlled his passions. Sometimes, he felt that there was something lacking in him. He should have been doing something else somewhere. What that could be, he did not know. After his marriage, he loved his wife greatly. He found her interest in Hinduism incomprehensible. He realized that he had lost the social meeting ground with Aziz. He thought with surprise of his past heroism at the time of Aziz’s trial.

He Believed in Economy

      He detested wastage. He asked Aziz, when the latter arranged a picnic at the Marabar Caves, how much he had spent. On hearing that hundreds of rupees were spent, he advised Aziz against reckless spending. He told Aziz that the British Empire stood mainly on economy.


      Fielding is such a forceful character that baffles the critics sometimes. That is why some of the critics regard A Passage to India to be without a hero. At stages, by his noble and heroic deeds, he appeared to be snatching the role of a hero. Anyhow, it can be said that the novel without him will lose something substantial for which no substitute can be perceived. He is one of the most important ingredients of the book. E.M. Forster expressed himself through Fielding. His exclusion, in a way, would amount to the exclusion of the author from his own creation.


What is the role of Cyril Fielding in the novel A Passage to India? How do the various events show up the predominant traits of his character?,

Give a brief character-sketch of Cyril Fielding with illustrations from the text.

Why did Fielding resign from the club? Trace the circumstances which led to this resignation.

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