“Maurice” by E. M. Forster
Maurice (1971) is the last novel that Forster wrote; its main theme was the homosexual love between males. Albeit the book was written at the onset of the 20th century, it was published after more than a century elapsed. The reason for the delay mainly had to do with the law, since at that time, homosexual tendencies were condemned as an immoral behavior in England. Owing to the above social aspects, Foster chose to keep the book from the public (Adair, 2013).
In the fiction book Maurice, Foster depicts the act that he had sisters and brothers albeit, in real life, he was an only child. Albeit Foster never married, it is rumored that most likely he had intimate affairs with men and was oriented to be a homosexual thus the interest in the topic he wrote (Adair, 2013). Maurice, written in 1913, is a very bold piece about men’s love towards each other. Notably, before the novel, no other book had been written on the topic may be owing to the social restraints and norms. In the later years of his life, Foster revealed that the thought of writing the book was born when he visited Edward Carpenter, who was also a poet, a sexual activist, as well as a philosopher. Upon the visit, Foster discovered Carpenter was a homosexual and he lived with his partner Merrill. According to Foster, Carpenter stated that there was such love as between a man and his fellow man and such a man could not live with a woman for a partner. The same could explain why Foster referred to Carpenter as his savior since he helped him discover it was not abnormal to be attracted to fellow men. (Adair, 2013). However, albeit Maurice started writing the book immediately after the visit, and finished in 1914, he never published the book until 1971; not even when the homosexuals started campaigning for their rights in the 1960s.
Notably, there were no successful relationships of heterosexual nature in Maurice. The above follows the fact that Maurice saw marriage as an economic settlement; not a result of love. According to Foster, homosexual love was the highest form of religious relationship since unlike heterosexual love, the former never allowed people to recreate but only to connect spiritually. In his thesis, Foster wrote that the sole purpose of homosexual relationships or marriages was love, unlike other relationships whose purpose was economic or even social reasons. Despite the sanctity and the purity of the love, the societal restrictions and standards hindered the homosexuals from relating well. Albeit the fact that Foster said the characters in the book Maurice were so different from him, an analysis of the piece by his critics reveals that there was a close resemblance between the characters and is real life (A??r,2017). Case in point, Foster (1971) states that most homosexuals have domineering mothers and in real life, his mother was controlling and domineering, and these are shown in the characters Maurice and Clive’s mothers in the book. These women are not only overbearing but also overprotective.
According to A??r (2017), homosexuality is associated with a deep search for missing or absent father figures. Notably, Foster’s father died when he was barely 22 weeks old. In the Character’s in Maurice, Maurice and Clive have deceased fathers from quite an early age meaning Foster was talking about himself. According to some scholars, a male lover serves as a replacement of the missing father figure for the child; as such, homosexuality is a psychological issue (A??r,2017). Acceptance by another male in love helps the homosexual person adjust or heal from the void of their missing fathers.
It is also notable that Foster initially wrote the book from the view of Carpenter’s relationship but by then he had not been in a homosexual relationship. However, between 1913 and 1960, he had his own homosexual relationships, and these were equally incorporated in the book albeit he never named himself as the main character. By the time the book was published, there were sure many alterations and additions as per Foster’s own experiences.
Further, Foster states that Carpenter served as a savior since he taught him to accept his inclination to homosexuality (Foster, 1971). Maurice also said that he did not know that the stirrings that he often felt in his body were sexual in any manner; leave alone homosexual. The same is expressed in Maurice, where Foster says that Anne never knew anything about sex when the husband came into the room on their marriage night since no one taught her about it. The same is true for Maurice, who, many times do not understand his homosexual desires even in school as much as he admits to experiencing sexual bewilderments in school. The same is thought by many scholars to have been a sign that in the future, Maurice will become a homosexual (A??r,2017). However, Finkelstein argues that the above is not a sign of future homosexuality; rather, he says it depicts a lack of girls for Maurice to have crushes on. According to the argument, it is normal for people to engage in homosexual relationships anytime they cannot locate sexual partners of the opposite sex. According to the analysis, the same is true in prisons where people engage in homosexual relationships simply because they are only put together with people of the same sex (A??r,2017). According to Foster, Maurice had absolutely zero knowledge of women since he had spent most of his life in boys’ schools; as such, he only knew men from his own family. Consequently, Foster brings out the idea that it was only normal for Maurice to be attracted to those of his own gender.
Maurice as a child also says that he did not understand the feelings he felt for the gardener boy when he was a child (Foster 1971). However, later he realized that he had an uncontrollable desire for men. Some scholars state that they view Maurice as a creation of a heterosexual figure who felt guilty of being one (Adair, 2013). According to the school of thought, Foster was often ashamed of himself because he was told by the society and its values he was a loser and a failure.
The delay in releasing the book could also be explained by the fact that Foster felt that if people read the book, they would figure out that he was a homosexual(Adair, 2013). Since the people in the aforementioned category were considered criminals, they often feared to be exposed. As a result of the fear people who belonged in the category were often blackmailed by others; Maurice in the book fears blackmail for several reasons (Foster 1971).
Foster in his book also offered a connection between the theme of homosexuality and class in the society. In Foster (1971), Maurice not only fears that the society will know he is relating to a person of the like sex but also of a lower class. The society at the time demanded that one should relate with a person who was their equal. The same is echoed in the book when Clive tells Maurice that the members of a lower social rank are not trusted by anyone since they lack loyalty and honesty. Despite that insinuation, it is clear that Foster hated the class issue in England as he in his novel Maurice ends up with a person of a lower category: Alec, the servant. Nevertheless, Maurice did not always consider people in lower social classes as people with feelings until later when Maurice says “servants might be flesh and blood like us” (Foster, 1971).
Scholars, however, blame Foster for basing Maurice and Alec’s love on lust and not love. As much as he said there was spirituality in homosexual relationships. The above could be based on the manacles that the society placed on such a relationship. Scholars say the same would have been a way of justifying what was considered a crime. As such, he was concealing how he truly felt in writing so that people do not understand him. The above, however, according to research indicates that the societal constraints could have forced a gay man to settle with whoever they found as long as they as similar state of beliefs as opposed to searching for the true soul mates; that could explain why Foster based relationships on lust pot love in Maurice (A??r,2017).
According to Foucault (1976), the Victorian regime, which most people supported caused them to be restrained, hypocritical, and mute about their sexuality. The same very well rhymes with the reason why Foster kept a book unpublished for many decades since he did not want to air what he considered dirty linen in the public. Foucault (1976) states that in the seventeenth century, frankness about one’s sexuality was very common since many people did not conceal their affairs nor speak with secrecy. Te listeners were back then expected to tolerate what they considered illicit. Additionally, the codes that said what was considered indecent or obsolete were very lax compared to the ones that existed in the 19th century. In the nineteenth century, Foucault (1976) says that twilight suddenly fell and sexuality was carefully hidden not confined within the home. Conjugal families now hid things and reproduction became the main aim of the affairs; sex was now a silenced topic as no one dared speak about it.
When it came to sexuality, Foucault (1976) says that other illegitimate sexualities were suppressed even more; the common notion was “let them take their infernal mischief elsewhere to a place where they could be reintegrated’; the places of tolerance were brothers and mental hospitals according to Foucault (1976). The above meant that people like Foster who had homosexual desires were relegated to corners of the society where they could not speak. No wonder a book would be kept in the house for 60 years without publication; it was because the society would curse and condemn the author to spaces such as mental hospitals for justifying gay relationships.
Adair, J (2013). A Love That Cares Not Speaks Its Name: Clive Durham as Narrative Guide in E. M. Forster’s Maurice. International online journal 6(12) 50-67.
A??r, B (2017). The Search for Sexual Identity in E. M. Forster’s Maurice. International online journal 1(2) 1-14
Forster, E. M. (2011). Maurice. London: Hodder & Stoughton.”