Howards End

by

E. M. Forster

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Helen Schlegel Character Analysis

Helen is twenty-one at the beginning of Howards End, eight years younger than her sister Margaret. The two are very close, and very similar: both unmarried, highly intelligent, cultured, and liberal-thinking. However, Helen is more idealistic, emotional, and impulsive than her responsible older sister. She falls in love with Paul Wilcox immediately after meeting him, then realizes just as quickly that they aren’t compatible at all. She thinks Margaret is wrong to marry Henry Wilcox, a blindly materialistic and sexist man who is older than Margaret by two decades, and she blames Henry for the bad business advice that costs their friend Leonard Bast his job. When Margaret and Henry refuse to help Leonard find a new job because of Henry’s sordid history with Leonard’s wife, Jacky, Helen is overcome with anger and despair and impulsively sleeps with Leonard. Afterwards, she tries to give the Basts all the money they need and then leaves England for Germany. She refuses to return until Margaret compels her to come to Howards End under false circumstances, and Margaret realizes she is heavily pregnant with Leonard’s child. Helen plans to raise the baby in Germany to avoid scandal, but after Leonard’s sudden death, Margaret arranges for her sister to live at Howards End with her and Henry. Helen becomes more sympathetic to Henry, and less emotional about Leonard. Her son will one day inherit Howards End after Margaret dies.

Helen Schlegel Quotes in Howards End

The Howards End quotes below are all either spoken by Helen Schlegel or refer to Helen Schlegel. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Thrift Editions edition of Howards End published in 2002.
Chapter 4 Quotes

“When I saw all the others so placid, and Paul mad with terror in case I said the wrong thing, I felt for a moment that the whole Wilcox family was a fraud, just a wall of newspapers and motor-cars and golf-clubs, and that if it fell I should find nothing behind it but panic and emptiness.”

Related Characters: Helen Schlegel (speaker), Margaret Schlegel, Paul Wilcox
Related Symbols: Cars and Walks
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

“The truth is that there is a great outer life that you and I have never touched—a life in which telegrams and anger count. Personal relations, that we think supreme, are not supreme there. There love means marriage settlements, death, death duties. So far I’m clear. But here my difficulty. This outer life, though obviously horrid; often seems the real one—there’s grit in it. It does breed character. Do personal relations lead to sloppiness in the end?”

“Oh, Meg—, that’s what I felt, only not so clearly, when the Wilcoxes were so competent, and seemed to have their hands on all the ropes.”

Related Characters: Margaret Schlegel (speaker), Helen Schlegel (speaker), Paul Wilcox
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 14 Quotes

…[Leonard’s] outburst ended in a swamp of books. No disrespect to these great names. The fault is ours, not theirs. They mean us to use them for sign-posts, and are not to blame if, in our weakness, we mistake the sign-post for the destination. And Leonard had reached the destination. He had visited the county of Surrey when darkness covered its amenities, and its cosy villas had re-entered ancient night. Every twelve hours this miracle happens, but he had troubled to go and see for himself. Within his cramped little mind dwelt something that was greater than Jefferies’ books—the spirit that led Jefferies to write them.

Related Symbols: Cars and Walks, Books
Page Number: 85-86
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 38 Quotes

“You shall see the connection if it kills you, Henry! You have had a mistress—I forgave you. My sister has a lover—you drive her from the house. Do you see the connection? Stupid, hypocritical, cruel—oh, contemptible!—a man who insults his wife when she’s alive and cants with her memory when she’s dead. A man who ruins a woman for his pleasure, and casts her off to ruin other men. And gives bad financial advice, and then says he is not responsible. These men are you. You can’t recognise them, because you cannot connect… Only say to yourself, ‘What Helen has done, I’ve done.’”

Page Number: 221
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 42 Quotes

Margaret was silent. Something shook her life in its inmost recesses, and she shivered.

“I didn’t do wrong, did I?” [Henry] asked, bending down.

“You didn’t, darling. Nothing has been done wrong.”

From the garden came laughter. “Here they are at last!” exclaimed Henry, disengaging himself with a smile. Helen rushed into the gloom, holding Tom by one hand and carrying her baby on the other. There were shouts of infectious joy.

“The field’s cut!” Helen cried excitedly—“the big meadow! We’ve seen to the very end, and it’ll be such a crop of hay as never!”

Related Characters: Margaret Schlegel (speaker), Helen Schlegel (speaker), Henry Wilcox (speaker), Ruth Wilcox
Related Symbols: Howards End
Page Number: 246
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Howards End LitChart as a printable PDF.
Howards End PDF

Helen Schlegel Character Timeline in Howards End

The timeline below shows where the character Helen Schlegel appears in Howards End. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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Helen Schlegel writes three letters to her older sister “Meg,” or Margaret. Helen is staying at... (full context)
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In Helen’s next letter, she reports that she is “having a glorious time” with the Wilcoxes. She... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Margaret shares Helen’s news with her aunt, Juley Munt, who is staying at the Schlegels’ home in Wickham... (full context)
Chapter 3
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...she insisted that she didn’t need Juley to come and help raise Tibby and five-year-old Helen. When the children’s father died five years later, Margaret again refused her aunt’s offer to... (full context)
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...with him. Unfortunately, she mistakes him for Paul and begins to talk to him about Helen’s news. He is shocked to hear that Paul and Helen are in love and heatedly... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Helen and Mrs. Munt return to Wickham Place, and Helen reflects on her infatuation with Howards... (full context)
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Helen and Margaret despair that such a simple, natural thing as human relations, however messy, should... (full context)
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Margaret and Helen resume the life of “personal relations,” hosting many agreeable people and promoting temperance, tolerance, and... (full context)
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Helen mostly agrees with Margaret about the importance of the “unseen,” although her character is less... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Margaret, Helen, Tibby, and Mrs. Munt attend a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, joined by the Schlegels’... (full context)
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Helen vividly interprets the dramatic music, conjuring an image of goblins “walking quietly over the universe,... (full context)
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...arrive at Wickham Place, Margaret invites him to tea, but the boy is intimidated by Helen’s high-spirited, overly familiar manner—“I do nothing but steal umbrellas. I am so very sorry!”—and embarrassed... (full context)
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Margaret chastises Helen for rudely frightening the boy away: “You oughtn’t to talk about stealing or holes in... (full context)
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Helen scolds Tibby for disappearing when they returned home instead of cordially helping to make their... (full context)
Chapter 7
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...the house next door. Aunt Juley is anxious that a proximity to Paul may rekindle Helen’s disastrous infatuation, but Margaret declares that there can be no great risk of real disaster... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Ruth Wilcox calls upon the Schlegels just before Helen leaves for Germany, going against English custom that the newcomer should wait to be called... (full context)
Chapter 12
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Helen returns from her marvelous trip to Germany, pleased to have received another flattering marriage proposal... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Helen interrupts Tibby and Margaret to exclaim that a poor woman has just visited the house,... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...Schlegels don’t recognize him, but he reminds them that Margaret gave him her card after Helen took his umbrella years ago. His wife, Jacky, later found the card, and when he... (full context)
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Helen and Margaret are thrilled by Leonard’s departure from mundane life. Though it was just a... (full context)
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Helen and Margaret invite Leonard to call again, but he refuses, claiming that the connection they... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Helen and Margaret go to a dinner party after their stimulating meeting with Leonard. After dinner,... (full context)
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...two years to make himself nearly a millionaire. He speaks patronizingly to the sisters, which Helen resents but Margaret forgives in a man of his age. When they tell him about... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Margaret and Helen have Leonard over to discuss his company. He doesn’t like talking to them about his... (full context)
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Henry and Evie drop in, and Leonard excuses himself. Helen tells him to come back soon, and again he refuses. She accuses him of being... (full context)
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...against trying to befriend such people who “aren’t our sort.” Margaret repeats that she and Helen like Leonard because he is interested in pursuing adventure and endeavoring “to relieve life’s daily... (full context)
Chapter 19
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Margaret returns to Aunt Juley’s house with her news. Helen bursts into tears when she realizes Margaret intends to accept Henry’s proposal. She heatedly objects... (full context)
Chapter 20
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...possibly go to with a lady,” having no hotels. Margaret reminds him that she and Helen “have walked alone over the Apennines, with our luggage on our backs,” and he replies... (full context)
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...“he had hurried away as if ashamed, and for an instant she was reminded of Helen and Paul.” (full context)
Chapter 22
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...to all of life’s nuance, and all viewpoints other than his own. He never notices Helen’s hostility towards him, and certainly doesn’t notice Margaret’s subtle attempts to open his mind. (full context)
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Helen joins Margaret and Henry for a walk. Margaret tells Henry that Helen received a letter... (full context)
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Before Henry can talk to Juley, Helen confronts him about his poor advice that prompted Leonard to leave his job for a... (full context)
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Alone with Margaret, Helen denounces such men who “talk of the survival of the fittest, and cut down the... (full context)
Chapter 23
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Margaret and Helen reconcile before Margaret leaves for Howards End, and Helen agrees to be civil to Henry... (full context)
Chapter 26
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The wedding goes off without a hitch until Helen arrives at the after party with Leonard and Jacky Bast in tow. She claims that... (full context)
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...her pragmatic, unsentimental fiancé “would save the Basts as he had saved Howards End, while Helen and her friends were discussing the ethics of salvation.” She is also satisfied with herself... (full context)
Chapter 27
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Back at the hotel, Leonard has put Jacky to bed. Helen begins to second-guess her whole enterprise but believes that no harm has been done. Leonard... (full context)
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Nonetheless, Leonard tries his best to accommodate “his benefactress.” Helen asks him about Jacky, and why his marriage is unhappy. He admits, “I needn’t have... (full context)
Chapter 28
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...him that Henry unfortunately has no vacancy. She encloses this letter inside a note to Helen, telling her about Jacky getting herself drunk and writing, “The Basts are not at all... (full context)
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...his betrayal of Ruth, she doesn’t want to expose him; she can’t even bear for Helen to learn the truth if she can help it, for both Henry’s sake and her... (full context)
Chapter 30
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One day Tibby is interrupted from his reading by a visit from Helen, who has come from Oniton. She says she is not going back to Wickham Place,... (full context)
Chapter 31
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...celebration that was once envisioned. On their honeymoon trip to Austria, Margaret hopes to see Helen, who has been vacationing in Europe for the past two months, but Helen claims her... (full context)
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Henry is happy to avoid confronting Helen and the reminder of his narrowly avoided scandal and ruin. He is glad to have... (full context)
Chapter 34
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...down with acute pneumonia. Margaret and Tibby go down to be at her bedside, and Helen plans to come back from Germany. Thankfully, Juley battles her illness until the doctor declares... (full context)
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Margaret is greatly concerned by Helen’s continued absence. She has not seen her sister in eight months. But she cannot lie... (full context)
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...continues to go to such lengths to avoid seeing her. Troubled by the depth of Helen’s hatred for Henry, Margaret worries whether her sister has become unduly fixated on the Wilcoxes... (full context)
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...but brought her to a nursing home instead. He tells Margaret she should write to Helen, pretending to be highly offended and informing her that her books are at Howards End... (full context)
Chapter 35
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Margaret and Henry lunch with Dolly before heading over to Howards End to ambush Helen. Margaret seems quite agitated before they leave, and Henry decides to try to go without... (full context)
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...up a doctor, and Margaret becomes more and more convinced that the men’s attitudes about Helen are all clinical and misconceived. She feels that she made a terrible mistake in betraying... (full context)
Chapter 36
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...orders her to give them the keys and allow them to go inside and see Helen, but she refuses. The doctor asks Helen’s cab driver what happened and learns about the... (full context)
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The doctor weakly suggests that Helen could be suffering from a nervous breakdown, but Margaret disagrees defiantly. She says that her... (full context)
Chapter 37
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Margaret apologizes to her sister for her grave betrayal of her trust. Helen explains that she plans to live in Munich and raise her child with a friend... (full context)
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Helen asks Margaret if they may spend one last night together in the house, fully furnished... (full context)
Chapter 38
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Margaret talks with Henry at Charles’s house. Henry says he told Charles about Helen and Charles has gone to talk to Tibby. He asks Margaret if Helen was wearing... (full context)
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Margaret asks Henry if Helen may stay the night at Howards End. He refuses, saying he does not understand why... (full context)
Chapter 39
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Charles meets Tibby at Henry’s house in Ducie Street. Charles is badly prejudiced against Helen, stemming from her disastrous entanglement with Paul. He suspects that she and Margaret are trying... (full context)
Chapter 40
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Margaret and Helen talk at Howards End, each repenting for their part in the disastrous confrontation at Evie’s... (full context)
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Helen replies that it was not wrong: “It is right to save the man whom one... (full context)
Chapter 41
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After sleeping with Helen at Oniton, Leonard was overcome with remorse. He felt himself profoundly undeserving of her, and... (full context)
Chapter 42
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...London, Charles returns to his house in Hilton, where Henry tells him what happened with Helen and Margaret earlier. Henry entrusts his son with escorting Helen and Margaret from Howards End... (full context)
Chapter 43
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Helen stays one night longer at the Averys’ farm, over the initial objections of Miss Avery’s... (full context)
Chapter 44
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Fourteen months later, Miss Avery’s grandnephew Tom takes Helen’s young son to play with the hay Tom’s father is harvesting. Helen and Margaret are... (full context)
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Helen thanks Margaret for heroically settling them all down at Howards End, instead of leaving Helen... (full context)
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...portion of her money. After Margaret dies, the house is to go to her nephew, Helen’s son. Dolly blurts out that it’s curious how Margaret should finally get Howards End after... (full context)
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...asks her, and she reassures him, “Nothing has been done wrong.” The novel ends with Helen rushing into the house with Tom and her baby, bringing the news that the field... (full context)