Relationship between Cosmic and Comic in A Passage to India

Cosmic versus the comic in Forster’s A Passage to India

 

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Cosmic and comic both are important elements in A Passage to India.  Forster shows the comic in the light of cosmic and vice-versa. In India, the importance of cosmic is highlighted at every stage. Forster frequently  brings the two into the scene to highlight the wide divisions inside Indian society and culture as well as to highlight the brutal and comic British side.  In the Indian context, cosmic forces seem very different from any other nation. For the various confusions born of its culture and soil, Forster sees India as a muddle.  To find clarity people look towards the cosmic and the cosmic forces take the shape of some mysterious  divine forces in this world. India represents an Eastern mystery, creating a double impression on every  visitor’s mind.  There are two people who are chased by an echo – Adela and Mrs Moore.  These two people frequently think of the cosmic which makes them feel restive and proves that these two people have souls.  Rest of the English look absolutely comic before these two. From Ronny Heaslop to the Lieutenant governor, all of these characters appear comic and serve a comic agency. Forster saw that the British rule has lost its logic in India and become comic. People here worship the cosmic forces and have learnt to live in balance with nature. Forster has made a point in the favor of the Indian culture and which is that  it bears a direct relationship to these cosmic forces.

The Hindu Gods and Goddesses represent these cosmic forces and have parked themselves in nature at unreachable points. Lord Krishna’s birth in Mau and the falling rain, (which had happened during his birth as per Hindu legends), echo in the caves that terrify newcomers showing the presence of strange mysterious forces in people’s lives, the night sky of the victory party and more similar pictures evoke meaningful experiences. Adela and Mrs Moore find themselves in a comic situation after the caves incident and the other English are even comic. People find themselves being chased by the shadow of the cosmic at various points in the novel. Even Cyril Fielding keeps trying to understand the Hindus but cannot because they follow such habits that keep them from being understandable. Aziz has lived in India but he too fails to understand Indians and their nature. This tussle is what Forster has tried to explain as a muddle. The muddle is bigger than everything you call India. Cosmic and comic are like two opposite ends and from one angle while everything is irrational here from another everything is rational. Forster has checked India from several angles and these various characters represent his different angles on India. Adela grows frightened by the echo and Mrs Moore describes the caves as a point where you can look into eternity but its depth can be frightening and soul shattering. Inside the caves, poor Adela has reached a point beyond which there is no looking further and the reason everything grows obfuscated in her mind is because the caves make her feel hollow and lost. These caves represent a dead end whose meaning humanity fails to comprehend and what follows from the caves incident is a comic drama that shows how people are lost in themselves going nowhere and reaching nowhere either. Everything is just a muddle where at some point people are bound to collide with themselves.

From every angle India looks a muddle which however shows a unique balance and strength in its culture. Mrs Moore wants to come back and hug India but it is too late for her. India keeps calling her from her various mouths. It makes her sway between peace and chaos. Her state looks comic in the light of her relationship with her son and the environment at the club. Fielding, Aziz, Ronny, everyone is caught in a muddle and chasing a mirage. Stella sees some stability and she is full of hope as soon as she comes to India. Her problems leave her when she visits India and in her, readers see a first foreigner who has found solace here. The rest are all playing a comic drama and even Fielding feels dragged into it. Even at the end, Indian culture presents a difficult drama which does not seem to have any clear or definite conclusion. It is why the end of Forster’s novel marks a distinct beginning. Cosmic and comic echo throughout the novel and what is once comic can be wise in the next scene. Professor Godbole keeps fluctuating between wisdom and comic attitude. He talks of cosmic forces and when you start believing he is a wise man, he gives you a comic slip. However, this marks the strength of Forster’s novel. Within this fluctuation, he shows how people are leading a blissful life in nature. The average Indian is a peasant, laborer or worker who is happy at the bottom rung and the Rajah at the top is looking towards the cosmic forces when he is nearing death. The coexistence of peace and chaos in India represents a muddle that is far from being understood. So, at last you can safely conclude that  cosmic and comic do not rhyme in India and yet can coexist. Whenever you try to seek a balance, everything seems to have merged and become an echo that haunts people’s minds.

Abhijeet Pratap

I am Abhijeet Pratap, editor of notesmatic. I am an MBA with marketing (major). Apart from writing on various topics in business management, marketing and English literature, I like to read and write about technology.