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A Passage to India Significance of The Title

Posted on 29 September 2011 by Aajiz

A Passage to India E.M Forster

The title of A Passage to India is a reference to a poem by Walt Whitman, “A Passage to India”. In the poem, Whitman takes the reader on a journey through time and space. India presents itself as legendary land that inspired Christopher Columbus to find a westward from Europe to India, a route that ended with the discovery of the Americas. While India celebrated as an ancient land, rich in history, America celebrated as a force for innovation. Whitman sees both as caught in an inexorable push toward globalization, where all countries attracted to the same drive toward progress. As he says,

Passage to India!
Lo, soul! seest thou not God’s purpose from the first?
The earth to be spann’d, connected by net-work,
The people to become brothers and sisters,
The races, neighbors, to marry and be given in marriage,
The oceans to be cross’d, the distant brought near,
The lands to be welded together
. (lines 31-35)

Although Whitman is typically exuberant, Forster’s novel examines the dark side of what might be called Whitman’s Song of the Global Self. Revelation Forster costs and contradictions of the British Empire, revealing that the dream of “land [...] welded” might just be a cynical mantra of taking over other countries. Although Whitman used interracial marriage – “races, neighbors, to marry and be a man” – an international symbol of harmony, Forster’s novel shows how even a hint of interracial attraction, not to mention friendship, deep in the race to inflame animosities.

A Passage to India

Whitman in his poem ends with the track, citing the example of the great explorers – and the great empire builders – to go “pass”, the other amazing discoveries. But Forster’s novel asks us to question the reasons for traveling, especially if it means applying to all people of the state of a foreign power.

“A Passage to India” suggests that there is more than a ‘passage’ -.. There are more than one perspective to see in India, and there is more than one way to interpret the disorder Forster’s novel is only one way to do Passage, just as the passage of time in the lighthouse, showing how the world and nature can cause people to change.

A Passage to India

A Passage to India

A Passage to India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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