Howards End

by

E. M. Forster

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Ruth Wilcox Character Analysis

Born Ruth Howard before she married Henry Wilcox, she owns the farmhouse Howards End. Ruth is a devoted wife and mother, and she willingly accompanies her family to London when her husband buys a second home there, but she has a special connection to the idyllic Howards End. She loves the fields and gardens that surround the old farm, and is always pictured sniffing flowers or hay. She seems to possess a special wisdom and spirituality drawn from the history and natural beauty of the farm. She befriends Margaret Schlegel despite having little in common with Margaret’s interests in culture and philosophy, and she decides to leave Margaret Howards End when she dies. She suspects she is ill when the Wilcoxes move to London, but doesn’t tell anyone, and she dies suddenly.

Ruth Wilcox Quotes in Howards End

The Howards End quotes below are all either spoken by Ruth Wilcox or refer to Ruth Wilcox. 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 3 Quotes

They were all silent. It was Mrs. Wilcox.

She approached just as Helen’s letter had described her, trailing noiselessly over the lawn, and there was actually a wisp of hay in her hands. She seemed to belong not to the young people and their motor, but to the house, and to the tree that overshadowed it. One knew that she worshipped the past, and that the instinctive wisdom the past can alone bestow had descended upon her.

Related Characters: Ruth Wilcox
Related Symbols: Howards End, Cars and Walks
Page Number: 14-15
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

Ruth Wilcox Character Timeline in Howards End

The timeline below shows where the character Ruth Wilcox appears in Howards End. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Capitalism Theme Icon
...suffer from hay fever as well, but are more stoic about it than Tibby. Only Ruth Wilcox, Henry’s wife, is immune, and she loves the hay and the flowers. (full context)
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Capitalism Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
...letter, she reports that she is “having a glorious time” with the Wilcoxes. She admires Ruth for being so sweet, steady, and unselfish. Henry convincingly talks Helen out of all of... (full context)
Chapter 3
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
...out of the house to explain everything to her aunt, while Charles shouts at Paul. Ruth appears, carrying a wisp of hay, and calmly breaks up the scene. She reassures Charles... (full context)
Chapter 4
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Capitalism Theme Icon
Colonialism and Imperialism Theme Icon
...with panic and regret, and they immediately broke it off. Helen and Margaret agree that Ruth Wilcox seems the most—if not the only—sincere one in the family. She seemed to know... (full context)
Chapter 8
Capitalism Theme Icon
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Ruth Wilcox calls upon the Schlegels just before Helen leaves for Germany, going against English custom... (full context)
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
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Mrs. Wilcox replies that Margaret should not have written such a letter, because she had called to... (full context)
Chapter 9
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
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Margaret hosts a luncheon-party to introduce Mrs. Wilcox to some of her friends, but they have little in common with one another. Margaret... (full context)
Chapter 10
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
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Mrs. Wilcox asks Margaret to join her in shopping for Christmas presents one morning. Margaret is a... (full context)
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
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Over lunch, Margaret changes her mind, having understood that “ Mrs. Wilcox , though a loving wife and mother, had only one passion in life—her house—and that... (full context)
Chapter 11
Capitalism Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
...the grieving Wilcoxes—Henry, Charles, Dolly, and Evie—are having breakfast at Howards End. Henry reflects on Ruth’s unfailing goodness and innocence. He recalls that she didn’t disclose her illness to her family... (full context)
Capitalism Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
...and Henry finds a letter from his wife’s nursing home, enclosing a message left by Mrs. Wilcox . The note states that she wishes Howards End to be left to Margaret Schlegel.... (full context)
Capitalism Theme Icon
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...Henry defends her and says that she was as ignorant as any of them to Mrs. Wilcox ’s failing health and final wishes. Evie objects to Margaret having sent the distastefully bright-colored... (full context)
Chapter 12
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Capitalism Theme Icon
Colonialism and Imperialism Theme Icon
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As Henry predicted, Margaret was indeed unaware of Mrs. Wilcox ’s wish for her to inherit Howards End. She wouldn’t learn of it until years... (full context)
Chapter 23
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Capitalism Theme Icon
Colonialism and Imperialism Theme Icon
...old woman coming down from the second floor, who claims to have mistaken her for Ruth Wilcox. (full context)
Chapter 24
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Capitalism Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
...old woman who startled Margaret at Howards End was Miss Avery, a former friend of Ruth’s who lives on the farm next door and keeps the keys to the house for... (full context)
Chapter 26
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Capitalism Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
...through the Market Square,” and says they had the same problem at Charles’s wedding when Ruth Wilcox planned to walk to the chapel but was firmly deterred by Dolly’s family. Margaret... (full context)
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
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...tells her that the affair took place ten years ago, when he was married to Ruth, and he releases her from her engagement.  (full context)
Chapter 28
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
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...love to make him a better man.” Although she is upset at his betrayal of Ruth, she doesn’t want to expose him; she can’t even bear for Helen to learn the... (full context)
Chapter 29
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...shallow emotional appeals and wishes he would plainly acknowledge the real wrong he did to Ruth. But she nonetheless reassures him, “I have already forgiven you, Henry,” and peace is restored.... (full context)
Chapter 32
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Capitalism Theme Icon
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...the necklace was rude of Evie, given that it was probably presented in honor of Ruth Wilcox, but Dolly says Evie’s father, brother, fiancé, and in-laws all told her to do... (full context)
Chapter 34
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
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Henry believes the sick have no rights—when Ruth was sick years ago, he promised to care for her at Howards End, but brought... (full context)
Chapter 37
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
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...“extraordinary” for pulling it all off and says that the old woman must have loved Ruth Wilcox enough that she could not bear to see Ruth’s house bare and unfurnished. Miss... (full context)
Chapter 38
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
...scandalized by Helen’s affair when he himself had an affair when he was married to Ruth Wilcox, but he didn’t realize she was baiting him. (full context)
Chapter 44
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
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Colonialism and Imperialism Theme Icon
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...son. Dolly blurts out that it’s curious how Margaret should finally get Howards End after Ruth left it to her. (full context)