Conception of an Ideal Man in A Passage To India

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      There is a lot of controversy about the ideal man or hero of the novel. Some critics claim Aziz to be the hero of the novel, while others of the thought that Fielding deserves the right claim to be. Whatever may be the controversy but one thing is clear that Fielding was the only good Englishman. Why only among Englishmen? He could be considered good among all men of all races which have been introduced in the novel. He can be described as an ideal man Forster had dreamt about.

Close to Forster

      Fielding was close to Forster. He was self-reliant and had grit. He possessed almost all the virtues. What he lacked, was emotion. He seemed dissatisfied with himself. In chapter twenty, we find the description "And he felt dubious and discontented... and wondered whether he was really and truly successful as a human being. After forty years of experience, he had learned to manage his life and make the best of it on advanced European lines, had developed his personality, explored his limitations, controlled his passion, and had done it all without becoming either pedantic or worldly. A creditable achievement, but as time passed, he felt he ought to have been working at something else - he didn't know at what, never would know, never could know, and that was why he felt sad".

Reason of his Sadness

      Didn't Fielding know that what he ought to have done? As a matter of fact, he did know, though hazily, the reason for his disillusionment and dissatisfaction with life reveals, in chapter twenty-six as follows "And fatigued by the merciless and enormous day, he lost his usual sane view of human intercourse, and felt that we exist not in ourselves but in terms of each other's minds". In other words, it means that we live only in proportion to the interest that we take in others around us. "To forget oneself is to be happy, to lose oneself is to be the gainer".

Controlled by Thought and Reason

      Fielding was the embodiment of reason. Reason is truly a controlling force. It checks such emotions as are harmful to the welfare of an individual. It checks the emotions from taking control of man. Aziz's arrest brought out the best in him. He stood like a rock in defense of Aziz. He advised Turton and McBryde to wait till the verdict of the court. At the club, he annoyed all Englishmen because he affirmed that Aziz was innocent. He was the only Englishman who was not influenced by the herd instinct.

Very Hospitable

      He was very hospitable and entertained his guests with all care. He invited Mrs. Moore, Miss Adela. Dr. Aziz and Prof. Godbole so as to bridge the gulf between the English and the Indian communities. At the Bridge Party launched by Turton, he was the only Englishman who was acting as the real host.

Very Helpful

      He was always ready to help others who needed his help. He helped Aziz up to the end of his trial. His stand that Aziz was innocent, also influenced Miss Adela and molded her thinking in that direction. Adela's truthful remarks in favor of Aziz made her a suspect and traitor in the eyes of the English community. Fielding came to her rescue, took her home and kept her with himself for months.

Very Popular

      He was not popular with the Englishmen nor with the Englishwomen but he was very popular with the members of his staff, his students and Indians. After the trial scene, Fielding's students garlanded him and took him in a procession towards the college. He was a true educationist and believed in high ideals.

Bold and Courageous

      He never minced words in expressing his feelings. He told Aziz that he was an atheist as most men in England were. He told them that he had come to India because he needed a job. He added that those Englishmen who did not change their outlook must, be kicked out into the sea. He categorically affirmed that he was not afraid of anyone. He cared little for his job.

Above Class and Race

      Fielding had transcended the barriers of caste, creed, class and race. His religion was the religion of humanity. He loved all and even formed friendship with the Indians. For his free mixing with the Indians he was forced to proceed on a long leave. Even in the last scene he offered the hands of friendship to Aziz. It was Aziz who did not accept it on the plea that friendship between an Indian and an Englishman could not last as long as the Britishers constituted the ruling race.

Sexually Disciplined

      He did not marry in haste. He waited for forty years to get married. He kept Adela with him for months together but did not develop any sexual or illicit relations with her. He married Stella Moore, daughter of Mrs. Moore, who, like him, believed in the brotherhood of man.


      He understood the value of money. He asked Aziz at the time of the Marabar picnic, how much money the latter had spent? On hearing the reply that several hundred had been spent he advised Aziz that he should not have spent so much because the whole of the British empire stood on good economy and parsimony.


      The above account reveals that Fielding combined within himself the virtues of various kinds. He possessed the idealism of the educationist, the practical sense of an administrator, the steadfastness of a missionary, the courage of a crusader and the cool-headedness of a judge. He was, no doubt, a good person, rather a very good person. But we cannot elevate him to the highest plane. He cannot be called an ideal man. He lacks the emotions and passions of Aziz. The ideal man will have to be a complex of reason, emotions, desire, volition, action and ideas. He must be able to love passionately one thing or another, however, imperfect, and still retain the capacity to love all. Such an ideal man is never to happen The world can produce Fielding or it can produce Aziz but it can never compound the two into one.


What is Forster's conception of an ideal man?
"Fielding is the only 'good Englishman' in Chandrapore". In the light of this statement could it be said that Fielding is Forster's conception of an ideal man?

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