Howards End

by

E. M. Forster

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Leonard Bast Character Analysis

Leonard Bast is an idealistic young man who works as a low-paid clerk for an insurance company. He is estranged from his family because of their opposition to his relationship with Jacky, a former prostitute. He scrapes together money for books and concerts because he wishes to improve his life with a knowledge of art and culture. He meets the wealthy sisters Helen and Margaret Schlegel at a Beethoven concert, where Helen accidentally takes his umbrella. They cross paths again over time, and he impresses them with his tale of once walking the whole night long. He dreams of preserving an intellectual relationship with them, and is unhappy when they pry into his professional life. He ends up losing his job after he takes their well-intentioned advice, and loses his idealism in turn, becoming resigned to never rising above his miserable station. Feeling very guilty, Helen tries to get him a job with Henry Wilcox, Margaret’s fiancé, but Henry refuses once he realizes that Leonard’s wife, Jacky, is his former mistress. Helen, distraught at her failure, sleeps with Leonard before running away. Leonard, feeling great remorse, seeks Margaret at Howards End to ask her forgiveness for his conduct with her sister. Before he can talk to her, Henry’s son Charles Wilcox attacks him for causing Helen’s scandalous pregnancy, and Leonard’s feeble heart stops, fatally weakened by a life of pollution and poor nutrition. He tragically dies without ever knowing that Helen was about to have his baby.

Leonard Bast Quotes in Howards End

The Howards End quotes below are all either spoken by Leonard Bast or refer to Leonard Bast. 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:
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
). 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 5 Quotes

It will be generally admitted that Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is the most sublime noise that has ever penetrated into the ear of man…you are bound to admit that such a noise is cheap at two shillings. It is cheap, even if you hear it in the Queen’s Hall, dreariest music-room in London, though not as dreary as the Free Trade Hall, Manchester; and even if you sit on the extreme left of that hall, so that the brass bumps at you before the rest of the orchestra arrives, it is still cheap.

Related Characters: Margaret Schlegel, Leonard Bast
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

And the voice in the gondola rolled on, piping melodiously of Effort and Self-Sacrifice, full of high purpose, full of beauty, full even of sympathy and the love of men, yet somehow eluding all that was actual and insistent in Leonard’s life. For it was the voice of one who had never been dirty or hungry, and had not guessed successfully what dirt and hunger are.

Related Characters: Leonard Bast
Related Symbols: Books
Page Number: 34-35
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 15 Quotes

“It is so slurred over and hushed up, there is so little clear thinking…so few of us think clearly about our own private incomes, and admit that independent thoughts are in nine cases out of ten the result of independent means. Money: give Mr. Bast money, and don’t bother about his ideals. He’ll pick up those for himself.”

Related Characters: Margaret Schlegel (speaker), Leonard Bast
Related Symbols: Books
Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

[Leonard] understood his own corner of the machine, but nothing beyond it…To him, as to the British public, the Porphyrion was the Porphyrion of the advertisement—a giant, in the classical style, but draped sufficiently, who held in one hand a burning torch, and pointed with the other to St. Paul’s and Windsor Castle. A large sum of money was inscribed below, and you drew your own conclusions…A giant was of an impulsive morality—one knew that much. He would pay for Mrs. Munt’s hearthrug with ostentatious haste, a large claim he would repudiate quietly, and fight court by court. But his true fighting weight, his antecedents, his amours with other members of the commercial Pantheon—all these were as uncertain to ordinary mortals as were the escapades of Zeus.

Related Characters: Leonard Bast
Page Number: 99
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 26 Quotes

“I shall never get work now. If rich people fail at one profession, they can try another. Not I. I had my groove, and I’ve got out of it. I could do one particular branch of insurance in one particular office well enough to command a salary, but that’s all. Poetry’s nothing, Miss Schlegel. One’s thoughts about this and that are nothing. Your money, too, is nothing, if you’ll understand me. I mean if a man over twenty once loses his own particular job, it’s all over with him. I have seen it happen to others. Their friends gave them money for a little, but in the end they fall over the edge. It’s no good. It’s the whole world pulling. There always will be rich and poor.”

Related Characters: Leonard Bast (speaker), Margaret Schlegel
Related Symbols: Books
Page Number: 162
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 41 Quotes

Here men had been up since dawn. Their hours were ruled, not by a London office, but by the movements of the crops and the sun…They are England’s hope…

At the chalk pit a motor passed [Leonard]. In it was another type, whom Nature favours—the Imperial. Healthy, ever in motion, it hopes to inherit the earth. It breeds as quickly as the yeoman, and as soundly; strong is the temptation to acclaim it as a super-yeoman, who carries his country’s virtue overseas. But the Imperialist is not what he thinks or seems. He is a destroyer.

Related Characters: Leonard Bast, Charles Wilcox
Related Symbols: Cars and Walks
Page Number: 232
Explanation and Analysis:
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Leonard Bast Character Timeline in Howards End

The timeline below shows where the character Leonard Bast appears in Howards End. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Capitalism Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
The poor boy is named Leonard Bast. He has long been underfed, physically and mentally, and he regrets letting his suspicions... (full context)
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Leonard has a meager tea and then sits down with a book. He dedicates his free... (full context)
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Leonard’s reading is interrupted when Jacky comes home. She is thirty-three years old, a former prostitute... (full context)
Chapter 14
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The mystery is explained when Mr. Leonard Bast visits Wickham Place the next day. The Schlegels don’t recognize him, but he reminds... (full context)
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Helen and Margaret are thrilled by Leonard’s departure from mundane life. Though it was just a haphazard march through the lonely roads... (full context)
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Helen and Margaret invite Leonard to call again, but he refuses, claiming that the connection they shared today could never... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Helen and Margaret go to a dinner party after their stimulating meeting with Leonard. After dinner, they debate with their friends the hypothetical question of how a millionaire should... (full context)
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...sad case of their friend the clerk, he tells them that the insurance company where Leonard works is sure to go under before long, and he should look for a new... (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 work, intent... (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... (full context)
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...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 grey.” Henry,... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Henry observes that Margaret talks to him the same way he heard her speaking to Leonard Bast, and she says that she tries to address everyone in the same manner rather... (full context)
Chapter 22
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...Margaret and Henry for a walk. Margaret tells Henry that Helen received a letter from Leonard Bast. Thanks to Henry’s advice, Leonard has left his company. However, Henry now says the... (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 lower-paying one for no reason. “Don’t take up that... (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 the Basts are starving now that Leonard... (full context)
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Margaret sits down with Henry and asks him if he could possibly offer her friend Leonard a new job in his company. He agrees to do her this favor out of... (full context)
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...into an unexpected expedition to a stranger’s wedding. Henry approaches and asks Jacky to rejoin Leonard at the hotel at once. To Margaret’s surprise, a drunken Jacky recognizes her “Hen”: “Hen,... (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... (full context)
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Nonetheless, Leonard tries his best to accommodate “his benefactress.” Helen asks him about Jacky, and why his... (full context)
Chapter 28
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...the situation” and sounding disagreeably “unfeminine.” Then she tears up the letter and writes to Leonard Bast instead, telling him that Henry unfortunately has no vacancy. She encloses this letter inside... (full context)
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...herself for staying with him despite his vice. Margaret delivers her messages for Helen and Leonard to the hotel without seeing them in person and goes to bed. (full context)
Chapter 29
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...however, he declares the issue has been closed and makes her promise never to mention Leonard, Jacky, or the affair again. Margaret still feels responsible for the Basts’ plight, not wishing... (full context)
Chapter 30
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...is shocked when she asks him to transfer five thousand pounds of her money to Leonard and Jacky for them to live off of from now on. He does as she... (full context)
Chapter 31
Gender Theme Icon
...going out to the theater and discussion societies. Her conscience still pains her somewhat about Leonard and Jacky Bast, but she ultimately feels that “being Henry’s wife, she preferred to help... (full context)
Chapter 39
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
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...asking whether she mentioned anybody the last time they spoke. Tibby admits that she mentioned Leonard and Jacky Bast, and Charles draws his own conclusions. (full context)
Chapter 40
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...“isolat[ing]” to extremes, acknowledging, “I isolated Mr. Wilcox from the other forces that were pulling Leonard downhill.” Margaret apologizes for rashly writing such dismissive letters that night, and concedes that it... (full context)
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...by the time she got Margaret’s letters, and how dismayed she was to learn of Leonard’s dual humiliation at Henry’s hands. She explains that she does not love Leonard, however; on... (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 blamed her for... (full context)
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Colonialism and Imperialism Theme Icon
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Leonard briefly sees Margaret in St. Paul’s Cathedral one day and feels compelled to confess his... (full context)
Chapter 42
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
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...On his instructions, Charles goes to Howards End and is talking with the sisters when Leonard Bast arrives. Charles grabs a sword off the wall and strikes Leonard with the flat... (full context)
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Margaret explains that Leonard had been in the final stages of heart disease. Charles is so confident that he... (full context)
Chapter 43
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Back at Howards End, Miss Avery laments that Leonard died without even knowing that he was going to be a father. The doctor comes... (full context)
Chapter 44
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...muses about how she no longer believes in romantic love, and how she is forgetting Leonard even though she feels she ought to remember him as her lover. Margaret says that... (full context)
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...she simply brought them all to a ready-furnished house to recover from the trauma of Leonard’s death. From their lawn, they can see London expanding towards them, and they lament the... (full context)