Rhythm: in The Novel A Passage To India

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      E.M. Forster regarded rhythm as the basic or fundamental aspect of a novel, he had a deep interest in music. In his address before Howard's symposium in 1947, he said "Music is the deepest of the arts and deep beneath the arts," and "more than the other arts, postulates a double existence. It exists in time, and also exists outside time, instantaneously." In the same way the work of a novelist may take on implications, significance and meaning which is something beyond and greater than anything contained on the surface within the work itself. It cannot be definitely or successfully defined in terms of a formula. Music is a kind of total or cumulative effect which the novelist can at least strive for in his novels.

The Two Major Types of Rhythms

      There are two major types of rhythms in prose-writing. A novelist can use an "easy rhythm", consisting of repetitions, with variations of an magic. The "difficult rhythm" corresponds to the relation of major "blocks of sound" in a symphony. The rhythm in a novel depends upon its fluidity and its refusal to follow a pre-established design. It has no regularity about it. Then; there is a third kind of rhythm in which certain phrases or words are repeated.

The Use of Rhythm in the Novels of Forster

      E.M. Forster has made good use of rhythm in his novels. However, he has made more extensive use of rhythm in The Longest Journey, Howards End and A Passage to India than in some of his other novels. The reason for the extensive use of rhythm in some of his novels and less in some of the others is simply because the novels where it has been used widely deal with the relation between time seen and the unseen worlds. Since it is difficult for man to comprehend the transcendent reality, normally, the extensive use of rhythm makes it somewhat possible for him to understand such a reality.

Rhythm in A Passage to India

      E.M. Forster's A Passage to India is considered to be a great work of art. It is remarkable for its structure and thematic unity. Its greatness lies in the use of expanding symbol and in that element in the author's spirit which finds expression through the expanding symbols and thematic structure.

      Mrs. Moore, when she met Dr. Aziz at the mosque, remarked at one place "I don't think I understand people very well. I only know whether I like or dislike them." And Aziz replied, "Then you are an oriental". Then two years later when Mrs. Moore was dead and Aziz happened to meet her son Ralph, he asked him, "Can you always tell whether a stranger is your friend," Ralph gently echoed his words "then you are an oriental." These words repeated over again, form a rhythmic pattern. Ralph Moore's appearances provides another rhythmic pattern. The likeness between Mrs. Moore and her son provides a surprise. The repetition of Mrs. Moore in the two children by her second marriage affects the reader more strongly since the one-child by the first marriage who appears in the early and middle parts of the book derives nothing from his mother. This son Ronny Heaslop is a bureaucrat. He seems to have nothing in common with his mother. But the prolongation of Mrs. Moore in her youngest child is emotionally effective. This son, Ralph, serves as a vehicle for the mystery in which the meaning of A Passage to India is so deeply involved.

      The song sung by Godebole at the 'Janmashtami' festival has refrain "come, come, come" which keeps occurring throughout the novel. And the symbol of the wasp is another expanding symbol which is artistically employed by the author.

      The greatest of the expanding symbols which Forster employs in this novel are the echo in the Marabar Caves. It was the echo in the Marabar Cavies which left the most lasting impression on the mind of Mrs. Moore and Miss Adela Quested. While Mrs. Moore was inside the cave, she disliked the echo but when she came out and had time to arrange her impressions, "the echo began in some indescribably degree to undermine her hold on life," and it blurred all distinction. Even Mrs. Moore had enough of the West in her to become uneasy. The mention of echoes keep the novel in a rhythmic pattern.

      Thus we see that the repetitive, and rhythmic pattern keeps the three different sections of the novel - 'Mosque' 'Caves’ and 'Temple', into one composite whole. A Passage to India, then, is like a song which is held together by the refrain which occurs after almost every stanza.

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