ONE BAG, ONE STORY
THE BAG : ADELA QUESTED
All the magic of India in a bag…for the adventurous urban woman
A contemporary style that mixes tradition and innovation characterizes this bag manufactured by Molen. Warm colours creating a sort of geographic map make us dream of travelling to distant, fascinating places. Blending adventurous atmospheres with an attitude of modern versatility and the creative use of colours with python leather, this bucket bag is the right choice for the woman with a modern spirit, constantly busy in her urban journey without renouncing to classic chic.
Follow your desire for adventure and fly to Chandrapore, India, on the banks of the Ganger River, with Adela Quested, the female heroine of E. M. Forster in A Passage to India.
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THE CHARACTER : Adela Quested
It was Adela’s faith that the whole stream of events is important and interesting, and if she grew bored she blamed herself severely and compelled her lips to utter enthusiasm. This was the only insincerity in a character otherwise sincere, and it was indeed the intellectual protest of her youth. She was particularly vexed now because she was both in India and engaged to be married. Which double event should have made every instant sublime.
Adela Quested is “an English girl, fresh from England.”, a young Englishwoman who comes to India With Mrs Moore, Ronny Heaslops’s mother. Ronny is the Chandrapore city magistrate and her fiancé. Adela is an individualist and an educated free thinker who questions the standard behaviors of the English toward the Indians. Adela’s tendency to question standard practices with frankness makes her resistant to being labeled—and therefore resistant to marrying Ronny and being labeled a typical colonial English wife. “ Take my own case, “ she continued “ I don’t know whether you happen to have heard, but I’m going to marry Mr. Heaslop…well by marrying Mr. Heaslop, I shall become what is known as an Anglo-Indian.”
On hearing these words Dr Aziz holds up his hand in protest. “ impossible. Take back such a terrible remark.”
“ But I shall! It’s inevitable. I can’t avoid the label. What I do hope to avoid is the mentality…some women are so – well, ungenerous and snobby about Indians, and I should feel too ashamed for words if I turned like them.”
Actually, Adela Quested becomes a catalyst for the central dramatic events of the novel, and her behavior in these events radically affects the lives of the characters around her. However, differently from Mrs Moore who shows a genuine interest and affection for Indians, Adela appears to want to see the “real India” simply on intellectual grounds. She puts her mind to the task, but not her heart—and therefore never connects with Indians.
Astonishing even from the rise of the civil station, here the Marabar were gods to whom earth is a ghost.
“ I’d not have missed this for anything, “ she says, exaggerating her enthusiasm. “ Look, the sun’s rising – this ‘ll be absolutely magnificent – come quickly- look. I wouldn’t have missed this for anything. We should never have seen it if we’d stuck to the Turtons and their eternal elephants”
THE STORY : A PASSAGE TO INDIA
Except the Marabar Caves – and they are twenty miles off – the city of Chandrapore presents nothing extraordinary. Edged rather than washed by the river Ganges, it trails for a couple of miles along the bank, scarcely distinguishable from the rubbish it deposits so freely. There are no bathing –steps on the river front, as the Ganges happens not to be holy here; indeed there is no river front, and bazaars shut out the wide and shifting panorama of the stream. Inland, the prospect alters. There is an oval maidan, and a long sallow hospital. Houses belonging to Furasians stand on the high ground by the railway station. Beyond the railway- which runs parallel to the river – the land sinks, then rises again rather steeply. On the second rise is laid out the little civil station, and viewed hence Chandrapore appears to be a totally different place. It is a city of gardens. It is no city, but a forest sparsely scattered with huts. It is a tropical pleasaunce washed by a noble river. The toddy palms and neem trees and mangoes and pepul that were hidden behind the bazaars now become visible and in their turn hide the bazaars. They rise from the gardens where ancient tanks nourish them, they burst out of stifling purlieus and unconsidered temples. Seeking light and air, and endowed with more strength than man or his works, they soar above the lower deposit to greet one another with branches and beckoning leaves, and to build a city for the birds.
India will impress us with the vastness of its lands, the majesty of the Ganges, the almost primeval aspect of the Marabar Caves, the privileged place of the story. They are the place where the turning point in the novel occurs. Aziz, a young Indian physician, has organized a picnic to the Marabar caves, about 20 miles away from the Town of Chandrapore. Adela Quested is engaged to Ronny Heaslop, the City Magistrate, and Mrs Moore, his mother, is with her. The expedition begins successfully and an elephant transports the party into the hills where a picnic breakfast awaits them when they reach their goal near the caves.
While the train crosses a nullah, Adela Quested “ lent out of a window, saying, “ They’re rather wonderful.”
Astonishing even from the rise of the civil station, the Marabar look like gods to whom earth is a ghost. “ “Kawa Dol was nearest. It shot up in a single slab, on whose summit one rock was poised – if a mass so great can be called one rock. Behind it, recumbent, were the hills that contained other caves, isolated from his neighbor by broad channels of the plain. The assemblage, ten in all, shifted a little as the train crept past them, as if observing its arrival.”
Having wandered off into the plain for a mile, the train slows against an elephant waving her painted forehead at the morn. “ Oh, what a surprise!” call the ladies politely. Aziz says nothing, but he nearly bursts with pride and relief : the elephant was the one grand feature of the picnic.
As the elephant moves towards the hills a new quality occurs, a spiritual silence which invades more senses than the ear. Films of heat, radiated from the Kawa Dol precipices, increase the confusion “ They came at irregular intervals and moved capriciously. A patch of field would jump as if it was being fried, and then lie quiet.”
A corridor that widens into a sort of tray and a ruined tank holds a little water, close above there is the first of the caves. Three hills encircle the tray. Two of them pump out heat busily, but the third is in shadow, and here the party camp.
Aziz wants to treat his English friends with something exceptional and the Marabar Caves represent the soul of India. Adela Quested is interested in the “ real” India and has the polite willingness of a positively curious nature, but she is in fact frightened by what the caves reveal to her about herself . In fact, Adela’s experience at the Marabar Caves will cause her to undergo a crisis of rationalism against spiritualism and she finds she has no purpose in—nor love for—India, and suddenly fears that she is unable to love anyone.
Things begin to change when they visit the first cave. Mrs Moore nearly faints when she feels herself crammed in the dark, feels something strike her face and hears a terrifying echo : “ for an instant she went mad, hitting and gasping like a fanatic. For not only did the crush and stench alarm her; there was also a terrifying echo”
After the shocking experience, Mrs Moore suffers a nervous crisis and experiences a terrifying sense of emptiness, she seems to lose all her faith in mankind so she suggests that Aziz and Adela should continue the exploration of the caves without her.
The Marabar Caves consist in a tunnel leading to a circular chamber immersed in total darkness and the violence of the echo experience accounts for Mrs Moore’s state of shock and also for Adela Quested’s hallucination and honest conviction that she was attacked by Dr Aziz in the second cave.
While she is in the cave, something unexplained happens and she hurriedly runs out of it. When she emerges in the sunlight again, she is utterly puzzled : after hearing the echo, Adela becomes completely confused and the victim to a hysterical attack that leads her to tell the authorities that Dr Aziz has attempted to assault her.
Aziz is arrested and a trial ensued. We don’t know what has happened in the cave but Fielding, the headmaster of the local college, sides with the Indians because he believes Aziz is innocent. In vain he tries to defend him, the trial takes place and Adela is in a state of nervous collapse when she relives the day in her memory.
The British community show a formal concern and they rely on Adela’s testimony to inflict a model punishment but her account of the incident indicates that, while she was in the cave, she was trying to set up the echo when she had been interrupted by the shadow in the entry tunnel. So she finally declares that she has made a mistake and that she is certain of Aziz’s innocence. From that moment everything rushes to the conclusion.
Aziz is released, Adela is disowned by her own people, except Fielding, Ronny and Adela break their engagement, Adela returns to Britain and Aziz breaks his friendship with Fielding because his kindness makes him suspicious towards him. The impact of the mystery of India has been too strong for the two Western women who will never be the same after their experience at the Marabar Caves.
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