Narrative Technique of A Passage To India

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      According to E.M. Forster, a novelist, whether he likes it or not, has to take a keen interest in the life and people surrounding him. Both, as an artist and as a novelist, he should be deeply committed to life. His function is to put the vital, rebellious, and conflicting forces of life in shape without in anyway disfiguring them. We should judge in this light Forster's technique as a novelist.

Meaningful Resolution of Tensions

      A Passage to India presents a harmonious blending of various aspects of life, which may often be of a conflicting nature. Though the plot is a simple one, it is offset by the prevailing prophetic tone of the novel. It reveals unexpected and hidden currents of Jane Austen-like irony. However, its prophetic note is in no way disturbed. On the contrary, its rich and highly complex symbolism is restrained by the undercurrents of irony. In this novel Forster has imparted an internal harmony which is not so perfect in his other novels. He has achieved this harmony by a meaningful resolution of aesthetic tensions that destroy the unity of his earlier works.

Forster's Art of Story-Telling

      The story of A Passage to India is written in the mystery story technique. It has the atmosphere of a good mystery story. A succession of exciting events arouses a desire in the reader to know what will happen next. The story is so skillfully manipulated that events take unexpected turns and yet they appear to be inevitable. Forster's technique is to introduce a crisis and then try to resolve it. Dr. Aziz, the central character had been accused of attempted rape but nobody was certain whether he actually tried to molest the English lady Miss Adela Quested. There was no witness and Miss Adela Quested herself was not sure if she was molested and whether it was Aziz or someone else. This problem is resolved when Miss Adela Quested withdraws her charge. But the charge itself and the events following it have released a series of reactions which keep the story moving till it comes to a satisfactory end.

The Use of Rhythm

      It is a difficult task to reconcile the world of commonsense with the transcendental world. But Forster has a prophetic vision and by the use of "rhythm" he manages to achieve unity and order. This use of rhythm helps him in two ways: it helps him to keep his characters unmutilated and it also lessens his need for an external pattern. This indeed is the chief characteristic of the novels of Forster. He is able to resolve the conflict between life and pattern, and character and plot by the use of rhythm.

Symbolism and the Prophetic Note

      The world of values which lies beneath the socio-political conflicts of British India is expressed through the device of symbolism. But symbolism is just one aspect of the novel. The prophetic is another aspect of the novel. As a matter of fact, conflicting elements of humor, irony, fantasy and prophecy are blended together in the novel by a gradual transition from humor and irony to fantasy and prophecy.

The Technique of Counter-pointing

      Forster is also fond of using the technique of counterpointing. For example, the character of Aziz is counterpointed against the character of Fielding; the Indians are played against the British and the Muslims against the Hindus and the intellect is contrasted with the emotions, thus creating a tension which keeps the interest of the reader from wandering away from the novel.


Point out in brief Forster's technique as a novelist.
Art and Artifice in A Passage To India

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