A Character Analysis of Mrs Moore from E M Forster’s A Passage to India
Mrs Moore is Ronny Heaslop’s mother and sharply different from her son who is bred to be a British official. She has come to India with her future daughter in law Adela Quested. A kind and noble lady, who has come to see the real India, she feels suffocated among the British. While trying to escape from the suffocating environment of the club, Mrs Moore comes across Dr Aziz. She finds his company comfortable and sitting at the Mosque with him finds peace and joy. His hospitality eases her mind. He is the one through whom she gets her first glimpse of India. Even if India does not prove very good for her health, she has loved it. Before she leaves on her last voyage, she feels like it is calling her back. Indians are a simple race. Unable to pronounce her name clearly, they start calling her ‘Esmiss Esmoor’.
Mrs Moore has two more kids apart from Ronny named Ralph and Stella. India has attracted her. However, the British fellows who arrived before her are not used to being good guests. The club looks like a meeting hall of animals to her. To escape the suffocation, she comes out alone and visits a nearby Mosque where Aziz sees her and asks her if she has left her slippers outside. Muslim women were not allowed inside the mosque and so he was afraid to see her figure there. Thinking it to be a ghost, he asks somewhat rudely what she was doing there at that hour of night. She turns out to be a noble lady who treats the natives better than the other British people. Aziz pictures her as a kind old lady with a mother’s heart. She turns out to be like a second mother to him who cares for his emotions. However, the three, she, Adela and Ronny paint a strange picture together like complete strangers to each other.
“This was Adela Quested, the queer, cautious girl whom Ronny had commissioned her to bring from England, and Ronny was her son, also cautious, whom Miss Quested would probably though not certainly marry, and she herself was an elderly lady” (Chapter 3, AP2I).
Ronny is a very different person than her and wants her to follow the norms every new British coming to India does. Forster has shown a strange relationship between the mother and son. They are like two opposite edges or two different aspects of the same British picture. Ronny is here to aid his government rule the local people and Mrs Moore thinks the use of such force is against human values. She keeps feeling hollow all the time while she stays in India and a strong echo follows her from the Marabar caves. Nature is a strong force in Forster’s work. The caves signify a hollow space where you can look into eternity. Mrs Moore feels unhealthy at the Marabar caves because when she looks into it, everything around her starts shaking and life feels hollow. She feels even more lost after Aziz’s arrest and suggests Adela that Aziz is a simple and honest man. Locals start seeing her as an angel and remember her with profound respect. Her health fails since she finds the hot weather unbearable and therefore tries to keep herself away from all the affairs going on around her. She takes herself away from the club and to his son it seems like his mother has strayed from the English norms. Mrs Moore wants to see Ralph and Stella before her death. The Marabar caves have brought her to a difficult point where she can neither be a part of the affairs nor keep away from them. Ronny does not want that she spoils Adela anymore. He is afraid Adela will contradict her own statement against Aziz if his mother excites her. This leads to further drift in the mother son relationship. She leaves for England feeling pressurized by the growing heat in the Indian environment and dies during the voyage. Her death gives rise to several kinds of rumours that keep floating for a while and then die.
Aziz wanted her during the trial but she could not be there because she had left India. However, she has left behind a hope that remains inside Aziz’s heart. She is the only woman whom Aziz remembers with profound reverence. Hers is the only name among all the British whom he considers respectable and finds difficult to agree with anyone else. Any inhumanity brings her memories back to his mind. Professor Godbole also remembers her at the time of the Janmashtami Pujah which shows she is compared with an angelical figure. Mrs Moore too finds the Indians a bit muddled but then to understand the Indian culture is difficult. She knows the British empire is a horror in India and cannot help expressing her disdain at it. After the trial, while she has left and Adela is left alone, Aziz wants her to pay a hefty fine for the fake charges she brought against him. The only thing that can persuade him to do otherwise is Mrs Moore’s name. Fielding knows that Mrs Moore’s name makes him think. So, he uses it cleverly to persuade him that he must not leave Adela in such a poor state since Mrs Moore would not have never wanted it. She has a very good reputation among the natives and better relationship with Aziz than Adela. Her wisdom and reputation help the poor young girl in times of desperation.
She has died in the middle of the novel but her presence is felt strongly towards the end in the third part titled ‘Temples’. In Mau, Mrs Moore again enters the story. Fielding’s return does not mark a conclusion but a new beginning. He brings with him Ralph and Stella. Aziz is again reminded of her to see them and promises to respect Ralph, Stella and Adela from then onwards. Mrs Moore helps him overcome his fear and while his feelings are hurt, she has assuaged his pain. She has touched him deeply and stolen a corner in his heart. Like an axis, she keeps Aziz from going too far from his real emotions. He knows he cannot control his feelings that the English have hurt deeply but then he cannot forsake his friends either. Aziz would maintain his distance and Mrs Moore’s soul keeps guiding him on his right path. She is like a pleasant change for him and otherwise the English are beasts ruling India by force and Aziz and his sons will fight to liberate it from their clutches. The noble lady remains a binding force for Aziz, Fielding and three other friends including Godbole. She has kept their hearts light and in Fielding’s life, Stella’s presence marks a pleasant and stable change who is a fond memory of her deceased mother. At the end, one recognizes the value of her character. She has left India but become a martyr in Aziz’s eyes. This is something only Aziz knows and not even Fielding, Stella, Ralph or Ronny.