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social position of a dentist in "Forster's" Italy

Posted by ello ( on :15:05:41 09/02/04


In Forster's novel "Where Angels Fear to Tread" we get to know that the father of Gino, one of the main characters (an Italian), is a dentist in Monteriano, a small town in Tuscany. Furthermore it is always said that Gino is of a low position because of his father's profession.

Now my question: Why? Why is/was a dentist and his son, respectively, of such a low status in late 19th / early 20th century Italy (or the countryside of Monteriano)? Can anyone tell me or try at least?

Thanks in advance.


Attempt at an Explanation

Posted by Heiko (editor) on 20:09:30 09/02/04

Dear Ello,

I will try, but I don't know if this will convince you.

Since Pierre Fauchard's _Le Chirurgien Dentiste, ..._ (1728), dentistry is a proper profession in Western Europe. Insofar you are right.

There are various details which scare off the Heritons:
1.) A dentist has to do a proper job, although being educated, he is not a learned man, no man of letters so to speak.
2.) He is doing a job which has directly to do with the human body--if one thinks about the Victorian's (or a bit later) relation to the body...
3.) The Herritons think in terms of class. A dentist certainly is not a person of their sort--they detest everything that is different.
4.) Gino and his father are Italians, and they are representing some completely different lifestyle. This might also influence the evaluation of the profession. The Herritons always try to justify their actions--how far-fetched their reasons might be. 'The beastly baby is in beastly Italy with the beastly son of a beastly dentist...'

In the novel, the author tries to build up oppositions in order to use them to discuss the condition of British society, so if a dentist's profession is described as being low, it means that it is seen as being low in contrast (!) to the situation of the English characters. I would not understand it as general evaluation of a profession.

I don't know. Does this sound plausible to you?

Schöne Grüße nach Greifswald,


Thanks! :-)

Posted by ello ( on :18:53:15 11/02/04



Posted by lily.w ( on 16:50:47 16/11/04

I need some help that I ho
pe to get the film adapted fro
R TO TREAD, how can i get i
t,thank you very much!

society in where angels fear to tread

Posted by jazmin ( on :18:39:52 23/11/04

Hi! I am from Argentina and I wanted to know if you could please explain in depth the societies presented in the book "Where angels fear to tread", by E.M. Forster. Thank you very much, it would be very helpful to me, cause I have to do an essay on it.

Forster`s biases

Posted by Chiara Barabani ( on 19:52:52 07/03/05

I am an italian student and i am doing a dissertation on forster `s italian theme.My problem is that I find it hard to understand the author`s attitude towards his characters travelling in Italy.It seems to me that if on the one hand he criticizes their sense of superiority mingled with ignorance of actual Italy on the other hand he shares some prejudices with them such as the image of italians as violent,greedy and passionate?Could anyone expalain his position to me?

Re: Forster's Biases

Posted by Heiko (editor) on 21:28:50 07/03/05

Dear Chiara,

There is a wonderful book by Annegreth Horatschek called
"Alterität und Stereotyp: Die Begegnung mit dem Fremden in den 'International Novels' von E. M. Forster und D. H. Lawrence." (Tübingen: 1998). It deals with all these aspects in detail.

Something you have to think over is your concept of author and narrator. There is a diffence (or where do you get the impression from that Forster shares some prejudices with some of his characters?). This is especially important because his narrators often adopt the tone of voice of the characters.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me. I'm finding the topic especially interesting. Good luck with your project.



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