In the book "The Man of Property” the author
introduces us a big privileged family of Forsytes. I would like to admit that the author focuses
mainly on the description of the major characters. In the first chapters we
meet most members of the family as they gather together because of the
engagement of young June Forsyte. Here also appears Irene, the woman who is
admired by so many men; her husband Soames, who adores his wife and is ready to
do everything to make her happy. The book finishes with the death of Aunt Anny.
And this event brings some confusion to the whole family, because they lose one
of the most respectable members of the family.
There are not so many events in the first book, but
these two like June’s engagement and Anny’s funeral help us to create an image
of the whole family. First of all this is the family who value their
relationships, and it does not matter whether things are going well or not,
they are always together, supportive and ready to share things with each other.
Each character is given some special characteristics and from these
descriptions we realize that the Forsytes are very prudent, dignified and
ambitious people. They are devoted to each other and in fact they treat others
who are going to become part of the family very cautiously because they do not
want anyone else to disturb or break their family world.
I would also like to speak about stylistic devices because
the book is full of them, and it only proves us one more time that the language
that the author uses in his novel is great. These constant ironical remarks form
one character to another one produce on the one hand some comical effect, but
on the other hand they just make us think deeper and understand the whole
narration better. Just consider the example of a great metaphorical comparison,
and think about the image that it creates in your mind, "He had become almost a
myth – a kind of incarnation of security haunting the background of the Forsyte
And here is a great example of repetition that
finishes the first part of the first book, "There spreading to the distance,
lay London, with no sun over it, mourning the loss of its daughter, mourning
with this family, so dear, the loss of her who was mother and guardian”. It
seems that in this small piece of narration, the author manages to convey the
whole atmosphere of that mourning day; you can be depressed and maybe even feel
the same that the family feel, and sympathize them with their great loss. Now we
can really understand what a great person Aunt Anny was and how important she
was for the family. But why does the author finish the first part with that
family tragedy? What is it? Just a death of an old woman? Or the beginning of
the end? The end of the devoted family who pretend to seem very exemplary and
harmonious? I suppose we will find the answers on the pages of this great book.
The Forsytes – a big family with complicated relationships
The first part of the book "The Man of Property” tells
the reader about the Forsytes. It’s a very big family with rather complicated
relationships. The Forsytes is a family of upper class. The family is very conservative. They have been saving their
values for dozens of years.
Actually, the first part is not rich in events. It begins with a meeting of the whole
family that’s connected with the engagement of June Forsyte. She’s a
granddaughter of Young Jolyon. Here we actually meet the most part of the
Forsytes. This event characterizes the whole family as a very snobbish one. They
are against the future husband of June. His name is Philip. He’s an architect,
so he doesn’t have much money. And from the Forsytes’ point of view it’s really
bad and inadmissible. So we can see that the Forsytes are a mercantile family. That’s
why one of their values is money. The Forsytes really think that money rules
Another event and fact of the first part is the
relationships between Young Jolyon and his father, Old Jolyon. They have a kind
of a cold war, because Young Jolyon is an artist and doesn’t want to follow the
way of life of his family. One more
value for them is their blood. The blood of the Forsytes, but not royal. They are
against all people who are not of upper class.
One more fact in the first part is the relationships
between Soames and his wife Irene. Soames is a nephew of Old Jolyon. Irene can
be called the prettiest lady in the Forsyte family. The author says that she
can’t live without loving and being loved, but unfortunately she doesn’t love
The last main event in the plot-line of the first part
is the death of Aunt Ann. She is the eldest member of Forsyte family. This death
influences all the family. The Forsytes seemed to be an immortal family. One of
their main values is their position in the society. And they do their best to
Well, the life of the Forsytes means keeping all their
pathetic values and defending them from people who don’t have so-to-say proper blood.
Unfortunately, things can’t be stable all the time. And now everything is
" …they [Forsytes]
did not die; death being contrary to their principles…”
This time I’m going
to speak about the first book of "The Forsyte Saga”. And I’m going to share my
impressions with you. First of all, I’d like to speak about the plot
development. It isn’t rapid. The author
focuses on descriptions a lot. The first chapter begins with the gathering of
the Forsyte Family due to the engagement of Miss June Forsyte. The last chapter
of this book ends with their gathering due to Aunt Ann’s death. This event is
an extraordinary one. It’s written in the first chapter "When a Forsyte was engaged, married, or born, the Forsytes were
present; when a Forsyte died – but no Forsyte had as yet died; they did not
die; death being contrary to their principles…” And then the well-being of
the whole family is threatened by Aunt Ann’s death. If she has died, then
everybody else can also die. That was a horrifying revelation. And I tend to
think that the further development of the plot will somehow be connected with this
Now let me speak a
bit about the author’s style. Considering this aspect, I must admit that the
language of the saga is full of tropes and descriptive imaginative details.
Galsworthy provides enough information for readers to understand who the
Forsytes really are. He writes, ‘The
Forsytes were resentful of something, not individually, but as a family; this
resentment expressed itself in an added perfection of raiment, an exuberance of
family cordiality, an exaggeration of family importance.’ And these
features lead to the first conflict, the conflict between Philip Bosinney and
the Forsytes. He is a young architect without fortune. They consider him to be
"dangerous” for them. He doesn’t fit into their surrounding, into their family
In this aspect its
interesting to analyze their surname. Forsyte. Forsyte, foresight, prediction,
anticipation. It means they are good at anticipating events. And if they are
against this marriage, it will really harm them.
Another thing I’d
like to discuss is the stylistic devices used by Galsworthy. His language is
very ironical and full of different images. Let’s begin with some examples of
irony. "The only aristocratic trait they
could find in his character was a habit of drinking Madeira”.
This irony is based on incongruity between words belonging to different
semantic fields. Or consider, for example, "Old
Jolyon was too much of a Forsyte to praise anything freely; especially anything
for which he had a genuine admiration.” It is clearly seen that the author
mocks at Forsytes. He laughs them out. But it’s not sarcasm, of course.
Galsworthy is too kind for that. Actually there are numerous examples of irony
in this book. But they all are about the Forsyte Family. They are aimed only at
them. The author’s language changes a bit when he introduces other characters.
It suggests the idea that Bosinney is not the only representative of the
society opposed to Forsytes. But these are Forsytes who are positioning
themselves above all other people.
To crown it all,
the first book of the Forsyte Saga is very promising. Let’s follow the
plot-development and see whether we have been right making our suppositions.
John Galsworthy, one of the greatest British writers.
As a novelist and a playwright, he was commercially successful and critically
esteemed. The Man of Property became the first novel in The Forsyte Saga which
expanded his audience and his reputation. The time, in which the saga is written, is the end of the 19th
century. The setting of the novel is Victorian England. At the end of the 19th
century England is characterized by the following features: it is a powerful
empire, it is the workshop of the world, and, finally, it is the bank of the
world. Bourgeoisie was the ruling class of the country. In the first book we get acquainted with the head of
the Forsyte family. It is Jolyon Forsyte
who is about eighty years old. Jolyon has four sons and one daughter. Among
Forsyte family there are many lawyers, bankers, merchants and assessors. The Forsyte clan includes about twenty
members and it has history of many years. The first chapter begins with the
description of family festival. They celebrate the engagement of Miss June
Forsyte, old Jolyon’s granddaughter to Mr. Philip who is a common architect
without special privileges and he is not successful in life. That’s why Jolyon is
against their marriage. In the first
book we can see many descriptions of every member of this big clan. The author
uses metaphorical language for it. For example a description of June "There was
June, the atom with flaming hair, who had climbed all over him, twined and
twisted herself about him…” to show her really explosive and energetic
character combining with June’s tremendous beauty.
When we speak about Forsyte family on the one hand we
can say these people are really united. When a Forsyte was engaged, married, or
born, the Forsytes were present even when a Forsyte died but death always being
contrary to their principles. And always the Forsytes were resentful of
something, not individually, but as a family. They try to respect each other
and it plays a great role in this family. More over it is upper-class,
aristocratic, well-educated family who is also interested in science, art,
literature and even technology. But on the other hand we can see that Forsyte
family loves and values all it is material things. We can recognize the
Forsytes by their sense of property. Everything which surrounds them is rich
and beautiful. Houses, atmosphere, their clothes all these things are described
in details. The Forsytes can buy everything what they want except good
relationships in family. And the real example of it, it is the death of aunt
Ann. And neither family money nor Forsyte’s property could help to be every
The first step to the dead
In the first part of the
1st book the reader gets acquainted with the Forsytes.
The first chapter begins with the description of a family festival.
The reader understands who Forsyes are, he comprehends that it's a
great family, each member of which is full of dignity and nobleness.
They are proud to be the parts of this legendary clan, they are
always together, being ready to support each other.
Actually, the first part
is not so rich in events. First of all its June and Bosinney's
engagement, that most of the family members disapprove of. Bosinney
is a poor and mediocre architect. One of the main conflicts seems to
appear exactly between Bossiney and the Forsytes and the reader feels
the growing tension in their relationships.
One of the main events is
Aunt Ann's death. She was a kind of legend of the family, who knew
everything about everybody, the most influential person in the
family, so-called axis of the clan. So, her death seems to be the
very end not only of the first part of the novel, but the end of one
of the most essential parts in the Forsytes's history. Even in the
first part changes in the Forsytes's principles are shown. As we can
remember, it was written "when a Forsyte was engaged, married or
born, the Forsytes were present; when a Forsyte died – but no
Forsyte had as yet died; they did not die; death being contrary to
their principles”. So, these are the main principles of the family
– to be together, to live forever. And all these principles are
absolutely broken down, destroyed and demolished by only one even –
Aunt Ann's death. "Perhaps what really affected them so profoundly
was the thought that a Forsyte should have let go her grasp on life.
If one, then why not all”. "It was strange and intolerable, for
they had not thought somehow, that Forsytes could die”. One of the
most important principles of the Forsytes was ruined by the death,
and they demolish another one themselves – after the funerals they
fall apart, each of them going in his own direction, the roads
parted. The rules are violated. The history of the Forsytes is
drawing to a close.
This story tells us about one
huge family of Forsytes who are aristocrats and very proud of their big family
history. Every member of this family are interested in things connected with
bank, bonds and shares. The head of this family is old Djolion a man of eighty
six years who became rich by selling tea. The story begins from the description
of the celebrating Djuns and Fillip Bosini’s engagement. But the head of the Forsytes disagreed with this decision
because Bosini is a poor architect who had no money and nobody knew would his
business develop or not.
The clan Forsyte cared only
about banks and bonds. They were real aristocrats and as such a usual aristocrat
they liked art, literature, music, opera and so on. This family is like a bee
hive, they have one common thing for every of them – the history of their
family and their status and fortune. These are traditions and principles for
every member. But their principles ruined in case of young Forsyte. Just look at them:
young Forsyte could not save their families. Young Djolion was married for the
second time, Soms and Irene got divorced. That gave us a sign that some
principles are dying.
Forsyte are very conservative,
they have a number of family traditions which they follow and save. But there
is a competition between six children who compete in fortune. They are all
self-confident, bright-looking and rich. This family belongs to the upper class.
A set of traditions united them and they do not want somebody else to enter
their family. The title ‘The man of property’ means that people who have much
money think that they are the top of this world. Well, Forsytes thought that
the world revolves around them.
This novel if full of
different stylistic mechanisms such as irony. " The principle of this house,”
said the architect, " was that you should have room to breath – like a
gentlemen”. This piece of irony means that if you want to try to please the
Forsytes you should behave as they and have a huge sum of money. As I have already
said, the Forsytes behaved themselves very separately.
The first chapter finished by
the death of aunt Ann, who was the older in this family. Her death influences all
the clan Forsutes.
The first book titled "The man of property” tells us a
story about a huge family of Forsytes. The first section of the book begins
with narration of Old Jolyon, the head of the Forsyte clan. Jolyon has many
children, and the family belongs to the upper class of the English society – bankers,
lawyers, financiers, property owners. The book begins with the feast dedicated
to the engagement of June Forsyte and Mr. Bosinney, a young architect. Afterwards
we move forward to description of different characters and revealing their
personalities. Thus, we understand what Forsytes are.
The family of Forsytes has its peculiar features,
which are revealed through the book. This surely concerns Soames who has a
great interest for property and whose scornful grin is so much despised by the
readers. He’s quite critical or even cynical. He is a man of firm principles though,
and he is very good at running a business just as all true Forsytes. The
title of the book represents the whole psychology of the family – they are men
of property, and they live according to the laws of the world of property.
Though we may claim that Forsytes are enslaved by property and the feeling of
profit, nit all the Forsytes feel in this way, some of them, for instance June,
Irene or Bossiney, don’t seem to be real Forsytes. And here we see the main
conflict – the world of beauty and art is juxtaposed with the world of
The feeling of property is one of the most important values
of the Forsytes. They are careful about their business. Property, money, income
is what worries them. They are strongly against progress. I may say that they’re
even afraid of it. Maybe tis very fact anticipates the fall of the family.
Beauty and art have nothing to do with the creed of the Forsytes. They are
calculating when they run business or control their property. These things have
led them to the upper society, but one should always pay for everything , and
these things predict the slow process of rotting that actually increases
gradually through the book and reaches the boiling point in the end.
Even the Rich Cry..
The Forsyte Saga is a series of novels which
was later adapted for television. The first part of the saga "The Man of
Property” is dedicated to the detailed description of the large family of the Forsytes. Each character is finely
elaborated within the novel and has a story of its own. Nevertheless, the
family represents a whole society of well-bred and prosperous people and this
special, exquisite society possesses a set of family principles shared by
everyone. In the preface we come across several words and expressions that
serve a frame to understanding the story. These key words fall into several
groups, but all of them can be considered Forsytes’ philosophy and guiding
rules of the family. Possessive instincts, beauty and passion, fashion,
tribal instinct, sense of home and property, manners, security, ownership,
changing pretentions, freedom. These notions are crowned by one powerful
and diversified term – Human Nature. The whole book is about revealing the secrets
of a human nature, no matter what social position a person holds, what material
possessions belong to him, what people associate with him.
It is vital to grasp the concept "implanted” in
the title of the book. It seems to me that it is possible to draw parallels
between the idea hidden in the title of the book and the Bible. "The Man of
Property” is an allusion to the words of Jesus Christ about those people who
are able to enter the Kingdom of God: "It's easier for a camel to go through the eye
of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven”.
Forsytes greatly appreciate their possessions and despise those people who fail
to earn money and to become important in society. They believe in omnipotence
of money and their understanding of life goals revolves around one and the same
thing – what you have is what you are. But the members of the family are to
suffer the collapse of the beliefs and truths existing for them. They will have
to live through the events fretting their family pride.
The beginning of the novel narrates the episode
which serves an exposition and an introduction to the whole novel. The Forsytes
assembled at Old Jolyon’s to celebrate the engagement of June to Philip
Bosinney The part is focused on the relationships between three people: Soames
Forsyte, his beautiful and exquisite wife Irene and Philip Bosinney who is
engaged to June, the granddaughter of Jolyon Forsyte. But along with the
description of these characters, the author provides a prototype of a man of
that epoch – a Forsyte. It is evident that any person who shares the same
principles as the members of this family can be given the name of a Forsyte. A
Forsyte is easily recognizable by the sense of property, by the ability to look
at things practically. He knows what he needs; he can find a way of access to
it; he clings to every form of property – either a wife, or houses, or money,
So the first part of the saga introduces the
conflict between the world of the rich and prosperous and the world of those
people who try to tear themselves away from the latter one. These people are
Irene and Bosinney. Their relationships are going to bring up a collapse to the
Forsytedom and the principles they cherish and stick to.
The first part deals with the biography of the Forsytes. We get acquainted
with all the members, their relations and attitudes to each other and to the
whole London society. The action starts at at old Jolion’s house, where the
whole family celebrates the engagement of old Jolion’s granddaughter June with
Bossine – an architect with no income and influence. June is the only daughter
of old Jolion’s sun and his first wife, but he betrayed his first wife, and got
married with governess. The latter gave birth to 2 children Jolly and Holly. According to rules of that times old Jolion
had to repudiate his son in order to have an opportunity to bring up his only
At Jolion’s house we learn that there are 10 brothers and sisters in
family Forsyte. The oldest person is Ann. She is the most respectable women in
their family. But for the plot of the first book we are interested in Soames
and his wife Irene, who is always in the centre of attention. Soames is the son
of James Forsyte. Irene is the most pretty and graceful woman in their family,
but she doesn’t love her husband.
The Forsytes have many things in common. Their position is quite stable,
they have power and dignity, all of them have much money and ways of its
spending. Like all aristocratic people they are interested in theatre,
paintings, music or sculpture. We can’t say that they frankly envy each other,
but they try to look wealthier than other representatives of the dynasty. We
can also feel a light hypocrisy in their speeches. By the way they want to be
together, they feel the very belonging to this family. But pride of the family
is still a pride – a great sin. And one day I think they will pay for it.
The events take place in London, at the end of the 19th
century. In the Forsyte’s clan there is an atmosphere of pathos,
self-importance and business talks. They care about their status, their
property, their future, future of their children, grandchildren and grand
grandchildren. The Forsytes all look respectable and polished, they speak grandly with
an air of importance, everything they seem to care about is investments and
business, money and power, prosperity and bright future. They are the upper
class, the cream of society, the top of UK’s burjuasie, powers that be. But
like everything perfect, it is only the tip of the
iceberg. No everything is going on in the clan itself and in lives of
some of its members particularly.
All the events which take place in the first part of
the book point at the fact that the main value of the Family is its monumentality
and prosperity. The elder Forsytes, offsprings of Superior Dosset, who had came
to London in the beginning of the century and worked as a bricklayer,
contractor and builder, are competing with each other for the status of the
richest and the most prosperous. One of the young Forsytes, June, is going to
engage a poor and ungifted architect Phillip Bossiney. He arouses suspicions in
the Forsytes clan. They do not want June to marry a poor architect, who has no
property, no money and is not capable of joining the big business.
It points at the fact that they don’t care about people’s feeling and don’t
believe in true love. Another plotline is about relationships of Old and Young
Jollions. Old Jollion has problem with his son. He tries to
bring Young Jollion to reason, because he refused to take part in family
business – so such things as freedom of choice and discretion aren’t familiar
to the Forsyte’s tribe too. Soamas’s life is actually no honeymoon too. He’s
is practically obsessed by money and property. His wife, Irene,
ignores and dislikes him, because she doesn’t love him and married him under
The well-to-do and bigoted Forsytes live in their own little world, in
their pride and don’t want anything or anybody to invade it. But we
see that the inviolability of the clan is going to be shaken soon – younger
Forsytes show disposition, their own principle, free from these endless
business talks and life planned for years ahead. The clan is fracturing.