E.M. Forster’s writing style in Howards End is characterized by his dense, highly descriptive approach. He makes a great deal of allusions, from the Bible to contemporary music and art from the early 20th century. These evoke a rich, detailed portrait of Edwardian England.
The novel is written in a Modernist style, the tendencies of which are often are evident in its structures. It’s fragmented and complex. The narrator jumps between timelines, scenes, and characters, often without warning, which mirrors the changing world of the period. The pace of the novel is slow and measured. The narrator’s tendency to fall into philosophical and psychological analysis and conjecture allows the reader to get a deep sense of each character, their motivations, and the world they inhabit.
The novel's use of direct address and restraint is characteristic of Forster and is a major feature of the overall style. The author often addresses the reader directly through the narrator. They offers philosophical pronouncements about life and society. This aligns with Forster’s general concerns as a writer, which are broadly those of social change, gender difference, moral responsibility, and the tension between personal desires and social obligations.
Overall, the writing style of Howards End is dense, detailed, and highly evocative. It is studded with moments of bright and intense imagery and of emotional description. These are punctuated by entire chapters which seem journalistic and dispassionate. This inconsistency reflects the division the novel draws between the “inner life” of emotions and the arts, and the “outer life” of events and material things.