vonast asked: why do you think maurice's father was also gay? is it just a headcannon type thing or is there some form of textual evidence to support it?
Hello! Thanks for your question. (Hmm, that’s what happens when I shoot my mouth off by adding comments late at night!)
There’s a textual hint in Maurice the novel (not film) that Maurice’s father may have been gay. Forster doesn’t go into detail: in keeping with his wider approach, he slips in a little phrase that we could easily miss, and the phrase itself is ambiguous. So ‘Maurice’s gay Dad’ is more than headcanon, but a matter of textual interpretation rather than incontrovertible textual evidence.
The relevant passage comes in Chapter 30: just after Maurice’s crisis of ‘lust’ over Dickie Barry, just before Clive phones with the news of his engagement to Anne:
‘… As he [Maurice] sat in his office working, he could not see the vast curve of his life, still less the ghost of his father sitting opposite. Mr Hall senior had neither fought nor thought; there had never been any occasion; he had supported society and moved without a crisis from illicit to licit love. Now, looking across at his son, he is touched with envy … For he sees the flesh educating the spirit, as his has never been educated, and developing the sluggish heart and the slack mind against their will.’
Forster doesn’t specify the nature (or gender) of Mr Hall Senior’s ‘illicit love’ before his marriage. My interpretation that he means m/m love is rooted in a few other details.
(i) Although Maurice isn’t an autobiographical novel, in writing it EMF did draw significantly on his own experiences (e.g. being raised by a widowed mother, the Platonic m/m relationship forged at Cambridge that ultimately disappoints…) EMF’s biographers (especially Wendy Moffat, 2010) state that EMF’s father Eddie (who died when EMF was a baby) was in a very close relationship with a male Cambridge friend, Ted Streatfeild, at the date of his marriage – so much so that Ted accompanied EMF’s parents on their honeymoon(!)
(ii) As a gay man himself, it seems to me more likely that EMF is alluding to m/m, rather than heterosexual, ‘illicit’ love. The word ‘illicit’ might even intentionally operate as a code for ‘m/m’ which EMF’s gay readers (and close friends) would understand but other readers would miss.
(iii) EMF repeatedly stresses Maurice’s likeness to his father. But the more we’re told that Maurice is ‘just like’ his father – and being raised to duplicate his father’s life path (the same schools, then into the City) – the more that raises the question of whether the ‘like’ includes a homosexual background.
e.g. In being sent to his father’s old public school (Sunnington, not featured in the film), Maurice is sent to a school that’s had ‘a terrific scandal’ (i.e. sexual activity between boys) just before he arrives, so that during Maurice’s time there the boys are ‘drilled hard all day and policed at night’ (Ch 3). As Maurice is born in the late 1880s, the school clampdown will have been sparked by the Wilde trials and the tightening of British laws against m/m sex (the Labouchère Amendment): EMF himself, b. 1879, experienced a similar atmosphere. Or, to put this another way, the policing of sex between boys was probably slacker in Maurice’s father’s time. :D EMF’s line about ‘moving without a crisis from illicit [m/m] to licit [straight married] love’ would certainly fit that public-school and Cambridge background…