A Passage to India By E. M. Forster Character Analysis Professor Godbole

Professor Godbole, "Ancient Night," represents Hinduism in the novel. Although Hinduism does not appear to dominate the book until the final section, a backward look will show the effect of it in the other two sections. It is the professor's haunting song that affects both Adela and Mrs. Moore; in a sense it haunts them as Hinduism haunts every part of the book.

Forster records, "Ever since Professor Godbole had sung his queer little song, they [Mrs. Moore and Adele had lived more or less inside cocoons." The idea expressed by the cocoon is that of a dormant life soon to be awakened to full beauty. Ironically, however, they both awaken to experiences that are far from beautiful — Mrs. Moore to terror that leads to total apathy, and Adele to the horror of her experience in the cave, and the trial.

Although Forster seems to hold Godbole, and Hinduism, in esteem, it should be realized that he is not advocating Hinduism as a panacea for all evils, even though he admires some of its tenets and practices; Forster is not a "preacher." The thinking reader will realize that Hinduism, too, has its less appealing aspects — at least to the Western mind, with its respect for the value of the individual — such as the caste system (outlawed in 1950). He will also realize that Godbole cannot be effective in promoting universal understanding so long as he holds himself aloof from the mainstream of life; it will be people like Fielding who will do more to break down racial prejudice and national barriers. Yet a world composed only of Fieldings would be an unbalanced one; Forster undoubtedly respects various human qualities on various levels. He is too complex a writer to suggest one simple answer for the world's ills.

Names seem to have significance in this book. The name Godbole may symbolize something because it contains the word "God," as the man seems to contain God. At least he is God-conscious.

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