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Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster

Where Angels

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Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster


“Where Angels Fear to Tread” is a novel by E. M. Forster, published in 1905. The book tells the story of a group of English tourists who travel to Italy and become embroiled in a complex and tragic drama involving love, marriage, social class, and cultural differences.

The novel opens with the widowed Lilia Herriton, who is urged by her mother-in-law to take a holiday in Italy. Lilia agrees and travels to the small town of Monteriano with her companion, Caroline Abbott. While in Italy, Lilia falls in love with an Italian man named Gino Carella, who is from a lower social class. Against the wishes of her mother-in-law and Caroline, Lilia marries Gino and becomes pregnant.

The news of Lilia’s marriage and pregnancy causes a scandal back in England, and her in-laws send her brother-in-law, Philip, to bring her back home. When Philip arrives in Monteriano, he discovers that Lilia has died in childbirth, and Gino has taken their child to live with him in his village.

Philip, with the help of Caroline and the Herriton family, tries to retrieve the child from Gino, believing that the child would be better off in England. However, they soon realize that the situation is more complex than they thought, and their actions have unintended consequences.

Throughout the novel, Forster explores themes of cultural clashes, social class, and the role of women in society. The English tourists are shown as being narrow-minded and unable to understand the complexities of Italian culture. They also see themselves as superior to the Italians, believing that their way of life is superior. Forster challenges this view by presenting the Italians as complex individuals with their own values and beliefs.

Forster also portrays the role of women in society through the character of Lilia. As a widow, Lilia is expected to be passive and obedient, but she defies these expectations by marrying Gino and having a child. This leads to her being ostracized by her in-laws and society in general. Forster questions the double standards of society, where men are allowed to marry beneath them but women are not.

The title of the novel, “Where Angels Fear to Tread,” is taken from Alexander Pope’s “An Essay on Criticism” and refers to the idea that inexperienced and reckless individuals often rush into situations without considering the consequences. Forster uses this idea to explore the actions of the English tourists in Italy, who are driven by their own prejudices and desires, without considering the impact of their actions on others.

In conclusion, “Where Angels Fear to Tread” is a novel that explores complex themes of love, marriage, social class, and cultural differences. Forster challenges the reader’s preconceptions and encourages them to question their own beliefs and values. The novel remains relevant today as it raises important questions about the way we view different cultures and the role of women in society.


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