Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2022

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


English and Linguistics

Department Chair or Program Director

Richards, Gary

First Advisor

Haffey, Kate

Major or Concentration



In Howards End, Forster’s female characters are written off multiple times as having ‘hysteria’ or simply being foolish, sensitive women, which was a common attitude towards mental illness in Edwardian society. This essay investigates the concept of hysteria and Forster’s use of mental health with his female characters, using these factors to enhance the understanding of the characters, particularly the struggles or judgments that the three leading ladies, Helen, Margaret, and Ruth, face. The initial inspiration was drawn from Margaret’s jumping out of the carriage, as well as the neglect of Ruth’s dying wish; both women are deemed hysterical. While Forster’s characters perpetuate and reinforce negative and harmful stereotypes of women’s mental health, their conversations and interactions also present opportunities for critiquing these stereotypes, leaving Howards End to be interpreted not only as an example of unfair judgments and ideologies but also as a possibility for change and reconsideration of these issues.