My Wood By: E.M. FOSTER

Analyzed by DK and Shelby


•An investigation of the effects of property ownership on the individual and society. E. M. Forster is trying to tell us that we have to be careful because humans are selfish and once we got something we want, we will want more and more until we have lost full control.


To get readers to understand that we need to be less selfish. The essay "My Wood," first published in 1926, encourages us to think about the nature of materialism and the seductive power of our possessions.



•To make an amusing point about property ownership. And the value of materialistic things we own.


•Foster uses references to appeal to the reader.

•Example: “Shakespeare said of lust, The expense of spirit in a waste of shame. It is before , a joy proposed; behind , a dream…


•British novelist, essayist, short story writer

•Honoree Fellow of King’s College

•Other essay’s: Howard’s end, Two Cheer’s for Democracy


•He uses emotion to appeal to his reader when he says: “Something seemed grossly amiss here, something that would not have occurred had the wood been larger. I could not afford to buy Mrs. Hennessey out, I dared not murder her; and limitations of this sort beset me on every side.”



•Example: “A restlessness comes over him, a vague sense that he has a personality to express—the same sense which, without any vagueness, leads the artist to an act of creation.”


•Example: ‘Creation, property, enjoyment form of a sinister trinity in the human mind. Creation and enjoyment are both very good, yet they are often unattainable without a material basis, and at such moments property pushes itself in a substitute saying, “Accept me instead– I’m good enough for all three.”


•The sentence structure is very hard to follow.

•He uses semi-colons, dashes, apostrophes, phrases, and clauses.

•Example of his structure: “Accept me instead—I’m good enough for all three.”

•He also uses Rhetorical questions:

•Example: If you own things, what’s their effect on you?

•Ex2: What’s the effect on me of my wood?

•Short sentences and long sentences are both used. Short sentences at the beginning of each paragraph provide a direct response which is then explored in detail in the following more complex sentences.


•He uses vivid and descriptive language to
add depth to his work.

•Examples: That furniture requires dusting

The other day I heard a twig snap…

Noises on the edge of it…

It makes me feel it ought to be larger…

Something seemed grossly amiss…

Figurative Language

•Forster uses figurative language to provide a little humor in his essay.

•Examples: My wood makes me feel heavy. –personification

Slim camel passing through the eye.- Simile

Symbolism -of bragging and trying to fit in.

• He uses humor to entertain the reader, to effect the satire, and to undercut any tendency towards heavy moral tone. He does not want to preach but convey an important point .The words "heavy" and "weight" have a double meaning. "feel heavy" can mean "oppressed, burdened, weighed down: in a spiritual sense, just as excess "feel heavy" in a physical sense. "men of weight" can mean "of substance, or of social sign." The sounds of the words are themselves ponderous.

•Biblical allusions provide a larger frame of reference and moral and religious authority. Anti-materialistic view is at the heart of Christian teaching. EX: KOH, Ahab and the vineyard, and Lazarus building the stone wall. Forster suggests that we construct our own personal hells through greed and selfishness.


•Forster uses satire or derogates a subject "by making it ridiculous and evoking toward it attitudes of amusement, contempt, scorn or indignation" Satire may be directed against individuals (personal satire), institutions (political or religious satire). It works thru exaggeration, over-simplification, understatement and humor.

Assumptions and warrants

•He assumes we have knowledge of owning property and how it effects out personality.

•He warns us not to become selfish or greedy.

--- Creation and enjoyment are both very good, yet they are often unattainable without a material basis, and at such moments property pushes itself in a substitute saying, “Accept me instead– I’m good enough for all three.”

Organizational Patterns

•Chronological Pattern - story based in each section

•Exemplification - each paragraph is a different idea based off his main topic

Personal Response


•Wants and needs are a major part of life, but they shouldn’t be dictators of our lives. We shouldn’t focus on using our property (such as clothes, shoes, cars, our furnishings in our home) to set our standards and self-confidence. I agree with Foster that people become to self-centered and focused on having the “best and finer things” in life way too much, and don’t focus on the important things in life that aren’t tangible.

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