By Alexander Willis,2014-06-12 19:16
15 views 0


    Edward Morgan Forster was born in London on January 1st 1879 and died in Coventry on June 7th 1970[25] and was the only surviving son of Edward and Lily Forster. Forster‟s

    friend and biographer, P.N.Furbank[26], relates an interesting story concerning how he

    came to be named Edward. In actual fact, the name that he was registered with was Henry Morgan, but on the day that he was christened, the verger asked his father what the baby‟s name was to be, and he gave his own name by mistake. The verger wrote this down and he was christened Edward. After much discussion within the family, it was decided that he should keep the name that he was christened; and so Henry Morgan Forster became Edward Morgan Forster.

    Having lost his father at an age that he was too young to remember, Forster lived with his mother, almost constantly, until she died in 1945. It is true to say that she dominated his life and had a profound influence on him; shaping him, both consciously and unconsciously into the man he became. His relationship with her was without doubt, the most significant relationship of his life.

    Freud claims that the mother is the first love object and that from the moment she becomes so, the child has already started the process of repression that will „withdraw from his knowledge awareness of a part of his sexual aims‟[27]. This is what Freud calls

    the Oedipal;恋母情结; complex. However, the conflict at the core of the complex during this stage is with the father. The (male) child competes with his father for his mother‟s affection. He wants to dispose of the father in order to secure his mother‟s complete and undivided attention, until eventually, „the Oedipus complex would go to its destruction from its lack of success‟[28], and its resolution is achieved by identification with the parent of the same sex. When there is no father, or indeed in Forster‟s case, no alternative paternal presence, the Oedipus complex cannot be resolved; leaving it repressed, rather than destroyed. In On Sexuality[29], Freud says that;

    „If the ego has in fact not achieved much more than a repression of the [Oedipal] complex, the latter persists in an unconscious state in the id and will later manifest its pathogenic effect‟[30].

    In order to understand the relationship that developed between Forster and his mother, and the effect that it had on his life, at least, in Freudian terms, it is necessary to first look briefly at his mother‟s childhood and her life in order to understand how her circumstances affected the way that she related to her son.

    Alice Clara Whichelo was born in 1855,[31] the third of ten children and the eldest

    daughter. Her father was a drawing master, who left his family penniless when he died in 1867. Alice, or Lily as she was always known, was only twelve years old when her father died and her mother, left with no money and ten children to support, had to take in lodgers. Lily‟s mother leaned on her a great deal and she did much of the mothering of her younger brothers and sisters. Therefore, by the age of twelve and nearing the end of her latent stage, Lily lost her childhood and became a maternal substitute to her siblings and a support to her mother. Taking on these adult responsibilities at such an early age would, according to Freudian concepts, have caused an interruption in the course of her normal sexual development, and when any one of the stages goes unresolved the individual can

become stuck in that stage; a process that Freud terms fixation.[32] This can hamper the

    development of normal healthy adult relations for the individual and cause varying degrees of neurosis and anxiety in later life.

    In 1867, Lily acquired a rich benefactress; Marianne Thornton. Marianne was by then, seventy years old, unmarried and living in Clapham with her niece, Henrietta Synnot. A mutual friend introduced the young Lily to the two women and they took to her immediately, eventually taking over parental responsibility of Lily from her mother. For Lily, although this type of arrangement was not uncommon in those days, and it was to benefit her materially, she must still, as a child, have felt a great sense of abandonment by her mother. This episode would not only have made her feel abandoned, but would also have made her conscious that her value had a price. Marianne who, in the beginning, treated Lily as a poor dependant reinforced this concept.

    „When Marianne took her down to Weymouth in 1869 to stay with her own niece and nephew-in-law, Emmy and Major Sykes, the kindly Dr Tayloe offered to pay for new clothes for Lily, but Marianne, who prided herself on her worldly cunning, insisted on her wearing her shabby old dress: Waifs and strays, she said, were never liked unless they showed their lowly estate‟[33].

    Whatever the intentions on the part of Marianne, this would have been deeply humiliating to Lily and she, in Freudian terms, would have learnt the ambivalence;正反感情绪并存;

    of opposites[34]: of greater and lesser, of superior and inferior and of material concerns being valued higher than love.

    Lily gradually had her status elevated within the Thornton social circle and she was educated and found work as a governess, which she quite enjoyed. Then, in 1876, when she was twenty-one, she met and fell in love with Marianne‟s nephew, Edward Forster[35],

    who was seven years her senior. One can see from her earlier experiences, why she should choose an older man; or a father figure, as her husband. Although Edward was not substantially older than she was, he was old enough to be a more experienced, worldly man who could take care of her. They married in 1887 and by the end of that year, Lily was expecting her first child. Unfortunately however, the baby died at birth. A year later, Edward was born and they settled down to a short period of happy family life before his father, Edward Senior, became ill. He began to constantly catch colds and then developed a chronic cough. Lily, who had come from a very robust family and had little experience with illness, did not worry unduly. However, Marianne knew the signs and by the time that she had insisted that a doctor see him, he was in the advanced stages of consumption. By October 30th 1880, he was dead. Lily was devastated by the loss and she was also very aware that her husband‟s family blamed her for not spotting the signs

    earlier. Not only was she aware that other people blamed her for her husband‟s death, but she would have been likely to have blamed herself too and this sense of guilt, along with her grief, would have, in Freud‟s view, left her very emotionally detached from her child for

    a period of time. In his paper, Mourning and Melancholia, Freud outlines the process of mourning. He says that it involves feelings of profound and painful dejection, a loss of interest in the outside world, a loss of the capacity to love and an inhibition of all activity. „This inhibition and circumscription of the ego […] leaves nothing over for other purposes or other interests‟[36].

    Therefore, from a Freudian analysis of the situation, the normal bonding with her child in its oral phase was interrupted. Lily was consumed by her grief and probably her guilt too, and she was, at that time not emotionally available to her son. For the next couple of years Lily and Morgan, as he was commonly known, lived a gypsy like existence. They went from one friend‟s house to another, staying for a while and then moving on. Intermittently, Lily made some attempt to find them a home of their own, and Morgan was left in the care of Marianne Thornton, who having lost two adored nephews of her own, became very attached to him. The young Morgan demonstrated, or in Freudian terms, acted out how this situation had made him feel insecure by his „violent passions of love or fury‟[37], and

    the way that he ran to his mother and clung to her whenever she returned. The child, in Freudian terms, felt the loss of the bond with his mother and feared a physical separation from her as it symbolised her abandonment of him. This insecurity and feelings of loss were also manifested in his,

    „misery when anything is withheld from him. He seems to have the attachment of grown up people for each other, for inanimate objects‟[38].

    However, this period of mourning comes to an end after a certain period of time and, „when the work of mourning is completed the ego becomes free and uninhibited again[39].

    In the autumn of 1892, Lily eventually found them a home. The house was an old gabled house in Stevenage; renovated and modern, but very isolated, set in four acres of land. Its name was Rooksnest[40] and Lily and Morgan moved into it in the spring of 1883. Morgan loved the house and he later said of it; „The house is my childhood and safety‟[41].

    Forster's childhood (and much of his adult life) was dominated by his mother and his aunts, and it is obvious that Forster's relationship with his own sexuality was deeply influenced by this. He lived in a familiar atmosphere inordinately dominated by the mother figure and this no doubt, had an irreversible influence on his attitudes and relationships as an adult. Although it is true that Forster did have several male relatives that he had contact with on a relatively frequent basis, none of them were close enough to have any influence and it was his female relatives that shaped his life. Indeed, it was the legacy of Marianne Thornton, which gave Forster the opportunity to travel and the freedom to write. They were his only social and emotional contact and his role models.

    Once Lily had passed through the natural process of mourning, she turned all her attention to her son and became a doting mother. Morgan was already a nervous child and after her experience with her husband, Lily became morbidly anxious about his health, and obsessively coddled him throughout his childhood. In fact, it was not until middle age that Forster realised that he was not frail at all and was actually very healthy; he had internalised;使成为主观; his mother‟s fears about himself, which were, in actuality,


    Morgan was a delicate and pretty child and his mother and Aunts insisted upon dressing him up in little sailor suits and growing his curly hair long. He was the darling of a group of women, mostly childless, and he was spoilt and precocious. Not having other children to play with on a regular basis and having a mother that had little experience of a „normal‟ childhood made him rather old before his time. He read widely and had a tremendous general knowledge and a great deal of his time was spent either educating the servants,

or making up stories about his dolls[42]. He was a rather intellectual child, which is not

    surprising, being constantly in adult company, but he so obviously craved;渴求; children

    of his own age to play with. His only form of communication was intellectualisation, which is a defence mechanism;防御机制;, used as a way of expressing one's self when one is

    emotionally cut off. Morgan had a vivid imagination; his favourite book as a child was Swiss Family Robinson, because „the boys in it were happy‟[43]. He could read and he

    could imagine but he could not play. He was burdened by his mother's morbidity and emotionally stifled by his environment. Consequently, he spent much of his childhood, especially the time he spent at school, in a state of depression and nervous anxiety. Although the relationship between Forster and his mother was very intense, he was still not secure within it and became very upset when anything threatened it. In a letter that Lily wrote to Marianne Thornton she says;

    „ I washed my hair yesterday afternoon. S.D[44] and Morgan would look on. I left my hair

    down and told M. I was 15 and not his mother at all. „I know you are, you look just like her, do up your hair and you will be 30.‟ At last he got quite nervous about it and said „Now do come out of joking-let me look at you. I am sure you are my mama‟‟[45]

    Shortly after the above incident, when Forster was about six years old; during the phallic stage of his psychosexual development, and according to Freud, the stage in which the Oedipal crisis occurs, a small, but significant exchange occurred between him and his mother, that was to shape their relationship for the rest of their lives. Lily describes it in another of the frequent letters she wrote to Marianne Thornton:

    „ Morgan. When I grow up, my darling, I shall call upon you every day.

    Lily. You can live with me if you like.

    M. That will be best, and I will only sit with you and pay visits with you when you go with me.

    L. What shall I do when you marry?

    M. I shall only marry to you.

    L. You can‟t.

    M. Why not? People can marry twice, so I don‟t see it will make any difference to you.

    L. Boys can‟t marry their mothers.

    M. What a bother. Well I shall take care then never to go to any wedding in case I should be married and I don‟t want it.‟[46]

    As the dialogue hints, a „love affair‟ sprang up between the two of them that was to ensure

    that Forster remained in the phallic/Oedipal stage throughout his life; never reaching emotional or sexual maturity. It would be easy to pass the above conversation off as a childish fantasy or an insignificant piece of fun between a six year old boy and his mother. However, nearly thirty years later, it is obvious that Forster has not moved on, as he talks about his wish to visit India, in a letter to his friend Malcolm Darling. He writes; „My mother is not doing well-nothing definite, but loss of spirits since her mother‟s death a year ago, and I doubt whether she will ever recover them entirely. […] You see how difficult it all becomes. I know that she will mind me going even if she urges it, and that she will be lonely without me‟[47].

    Here, the adult is echoing the child, when he promises to „only sit with you and pay visits with you when you go with me‟. Although Forster was by now, thirty-three years old, his

    relationship with his mother had not really changed from the one that they had experienced when he was six. This relationship was to frustrate Forster throughout his life. In 1915, he wrote in a letter to his friend, Florence Barger:

    „I am leading the life of a little girl so long as I am tied to home. It isn‟t even as if I make mother happy by stopping-she is always wanting me to be 5 years old again, so happiness is obviously impossible for her, and she never realises that the cardinal;基本

    的; fact in my life is my writing, and that at present I am not writing‟[48].

    Lily was a demanding and possessive mother, but there was „a coolness and briskness […] in her feelings for Morgan‟.[49] In Freudian terms she was emotionally distant, being

    herself, most probably, stuck in the latent stage. This lack of emotional security led Forster to be anxious and nervous about their relationship and he constantly strove to gain her approval. This in turn led him to often repress his true self, in order to appear as his mother wished him to be. There were many instances in his childhood, that Forster relates to Furbank for his biography, that demonstrates his mother‟s dissatisfaction with her son and in turn, his reaction to it. One such incident involved his male cousins, whom Forster did not get along with as a child and who picked on the rather effeminate Morgan and tormented him, whenever possible. On one particular visit, one of the boys blew a whistle in his ear, which made Morgan scream with fright and he cried for hours. His mother was of course, cross with the cousin, but she was equally as cross with Morgan, for being such a cry-baby. In another letter to Marianne Thornton, Lily wrote that she wished that „he was more manly and that he didn‟t cry quite so easily‟[50]. Furbank says that Forster felt his

    mother‟s disapproval and began to act accordingly;

    „He sensed how the land lay, and when one day his mother said she believed that Jack, the lively third son, was his favourite in The Swiss Family Robinson, he was careful not to correct her, though in fact he preferred the priggish;一本正经的; Ernest‟[51].

    This form of repression and distortion of personality went on for the rest of their lives. In Freudian terms, the relationship was ambivalent, because Lily was never clear or consistent with her son; on the one hand, wanting to keep him as a child and on the other wanting him to be „more of a man‟. This ambivalence added to Forster‟s insecurity of the relationship, adding to the list of reasons he had for never confiding in her about his sexuality. Forster was never open with his mother and never told her the truth about himself; therefore, the longest and most important relationship that he had in his entire life was never to be an honest and truthful one. It is little wonder then, that by the time Forster reached puberty, he was suffering from depression. Used to being cosseted and already a nervous and anxious child, he was sent away to school at the age of eleven. Like his mother, who was taken away from her family at a young age, it was not an unusual occurrence for a middle or upper class boy, however, Morgan was deeply unhappy at school, feeling abandoned and frightened. He did not get on with the other boys, who bullied him, his mother had sent him away, he was lonely, unpopular and pubescent. He developed several crushes on older boys and started to question his sexuality, but had no one to confide;吐露秘密; in and although he wrote to his mother about his loneliness and his fear of the other boys, he could not talk to her about sex.

    „Lily‟s whole attitude to sex was that it was a dreadful subject and to be thought of as little as possible. She made no attempt at any stage to tell Morgan the facts of life‟[52].

    In fact, according to Forster himself, it was not until he was thirty, that he fully understood how copulation took place. Freud says that the young child imagines that both men and women possess the same genitalia as themselves until they see the genitalia (usually of a younger brother or sister) of the opposite sex. It is then that the male child develops the castration complex. The child is often chastised for masturbation and terrorised by the threat of his penis being cut off and then assumes that the same has happened to his sister or mother etc. Furbank says that it was not until he was at school that he learnt that the penis was not called „dirty‟; his name for it, up until then. When he was younger, he

    had been chastised for masturbating, by his mother, who had told him it was dirty. This made such an impression on him, that „help me to get rid of the dirty trick, figured in his prayers‟