The British Raj in India in the novel A Passage to India

Question: Comment on the British Raj in India in the novel A Passage to India.


E. M. Forster (1879-1970) in his greatest novel “A Passage to India” has given an imperial picture. The long journey of the British Raj. has been depicted as a backdrop of hostility during the independence movement of India. The impression of the authority represented here in the novel is not positive but praiseworthy.

Divide and Rule Policy

The British Raj has been limned as an authority of divide and rule. The novelist has started his narration in a way that has divided the city into two parts the English civil station and the native section. The railway line divides the British locality from the native locality. The locality of the British Raj shares nothing with the native locality without the lofty sky.

“It is a city of gardens, it is no city, but a forest sparsely scattered with huts. It is a tropical pleasance, washed by a noble river”.

Besides, the British Raj shows that two cultures cannot be one. The ruled and the ruler are the inhabitants of different classes. The Hindus and Muslims are not able to befriend and even it is as impossible as to create a negation between two hemispheres. Thus, the British have ruled India by the dint of divide and rule, but they are in a difficult situation.

Despotic Government

The British Raj is a despotic authority in India. The symbolic representation of Marabar Caves informs the whole world that the British Government has crossed all the limits of a civilized government. The echoes of the caves are the symbolic agents of the hearts of the Indian people. The Indians wants to get express their liberal thought but they cannot voice like the echoing sounds of the caves do not get any opportunity to come out. Another symbolic meaning is the release of evil which is witnessed by Adela’s hallucination. The stones of the caves are the symbol of feelingless authority. Thus, the Marabar caves represent a world from which good is missing. So, it is proved that British Rah is out and out despotic one.

Absence of Good Governance

British Raj means the absence of good governance which means accountability and responsibility. In India, British Raj has ruled by their criminal policy. They never show their accountability and responsibility to the rule rather than this they always try to find out the faults of the natives to apply their injustice and brutality. The protagonist of the novel is Dr. Aziz who has to face a baseless allegation. This incidence of the novel offers us the best specimen of the criminal policy of the British Raj because they desperately want to prove Aziz guilty but finally, he is acquitted by the confesses of Adela.

“I am afraid I have made a mistake”

Destruction of Democracy

According to E. M. Forster, British Raj has spoiled the political expediency of India. In this novel, Dr. Aziz is the representative of India. He has a friendship with Cyril Fielding, principal of the college. When Dr. Aziz was arrested for the false acquisition, Fielding played a vital role in support of Aziz, but Aziz was discontent and now he is discontent with the British Raj. He asserts that no friendship could be possible between the two races without the political expediency in India. By the end of the novel, he also asserts though there is cultural diversity between Hinduism and Islam, we cannot build up a friendship with any one of the despotic rulers.

“We may hate one another, but we hate you most.”

Division Between the Rulers

The British Raj has also divided its officials into two groups. The one is rational and the other is inhuman. The city magistrate, police superintend, and the civil surgeon are the inhuman character. On the other hand, Cyril Fielding is a rational one.


From the light of the above discussion, it can be said that the British Raj has created fear among the rulers and all walks of citizens of India. So, by focusing on imperialism the novelist has offered the message to the whole world that the negation between the ruler and ruled can be established by good governance only.

S Ridoy Kumar
S Ridoy Kumar
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