A Character Analysis of Ronny Heaslop from E M Forster’s A Passage to India
Ronny Heaslop is the city Magistrate of Chandrapore, Mrs Moore’s son, Adela’s betrothed and to Aziz, an enemy. Mrs Moore declares proudly to Aziz that he is her son when she visits the Mosque. He is much different from Ralph and Stella who look a lot different from the pucca British agent in the city of Chandrapore. Ronny’s attitude is that of a cruel British agent and though one can feel a change in the last chapters, in the beginning he looks an absolute opposite of his mother and Adela. He is here for his job and only his job and otherwise he has no love for India. He finds the natives sick and backward and shows it from time to time. Adela remains confused about him and keeps thinking if he is the right match for her. Overall, he is the epitomisation of the cruel British Raj in India. However, towards the end he regains the readers’ sympathy by virtue of his mother’s character. At the end, he looks like another civilised public school type misled by the government to further its nefarious purpose. It is interesting to see him being a part of the comic drama at the Chandrapore club.
He is respected in the English circles by virtue of his position and is among the most important figures there. His loyalty to the English government is the most notable feature of his character but it also makes him hated. He is an atheist by attitude and does not like being talked to on religious matters. His religion was Britain and as long as there was duty, there was no religion for him. He approved religion but only to an extent that it did not start penetrating his life.
“Ronny approved of religion as long as it endorsed the National Anthem, but he objected when it attempted to influence his life. Then he would say in respectful yet decided tones, “I don’t think it does to talk about these things, every fellow has to work out his own religion,” ( Chapter V, AP2I).
Adela and Mrs Moore arrive to the club and are welcomed with respect. Adela despite not being a very attractive girl earns a lot of attention for being his betrothed and this makes her feel suffocated. She and Ronny cannot agree because of their different natures. She is trying to find love and freedom in her life when Ronny brings more confusion to it. Both his betrothed and his mother are feeling disturbed by the way they have been turned into a showpiece for the other Englishmen. Ronny cannot help his attitude and fails to understand even when his mother is dead. Trying to run away from the ensuing chaos, she meets death on her voyage to England. She cannot help being herself while she is alive and Ronny on the other hand feels like she will never understand the norms which means that his mother becomes a burden to him. Trying to shift the burden, he does not know when he lost her. Towards the end, a shift comes and he returns to the team which means somewhere his mother’s memory has moderated the dreadful monster in him.
To the local people of Chandrapore and Aziz, he is no less than a monster. However, his role is central to turning Aziz into the local hero. The Marabar incident becomes a question of prestige for him and he tries his best to ensure that Aziz is not released. It has been too long and the Indians have realised what is inside the British mindset and therefore it becomes difficult for Adela to manage the pressure. She feels corked and disrupts the chaos by declaring Aziz innocent in the court. It has left Ronny disappointed who decides to break his marriage with her. Forster highlights Ronny’s irresponsibility in the Marabar case. He leaves Adela unattended as soon as she has taken her allegations back. Adela has to live at the college where Fielding protects her. Ronny comes back to her to bring her the news of his mother’s death. However, Mahmoud Ali discloses it in the presence of Adela that the death had already happened when the case was being discussed in the court and was kept from everyone. This makes Adela lose trust in Ronny. His devotion for the British Raj turns him into a caricature who is willing to lose everything else just to find appreciation from his senior officials and colleagues. Adela understands it and decides to find herself a better partner. Ronny vanishes from the novel soon after the Marabar incident and returns in the last chapters. However, Aziz still considers him an enemy and knowing that the five (Adela, Ronny, Cyril, Ralph and Stella) are together and teamed up, he decides to turn away. For him Ronny is nothing but a venomous snake and the epitomisation of British Raj trying to take away his dear India.