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Dr. Aziz is modeled on Syed Ross Masood, and Forster dedicates A Passage to India to him and the seventeen years of their Friendship. Masood represented everything good about Muslim tradition to Forster. He was handsome, highly religious, sentimental about ancient poetry and Moghul history, and staunchly opposed to British rule in India. In a like manner, Dr. Aziz represents the finest Muslim traditions, is sentimental, and decides to take to writing poetry after giving up his job in the Government Hospital in Chandrapore. It is only in his most difficult moment, while on trial for unfair attack, that he loses his innocence and becomes a man with inflexible principles.
Aziz is portrayed as a combination of sensitivity and strength -- "a little man daintily put together, but really very strong." He is a good surgeon, envied by other doctors, especially McBryde. He is a lonesome widow, dedicated to the memory of his wife who died at a young age, early in the marriage. Aziz is shown to be courteous, well-mannered, sympathetic, highly cultured, eager to please, hospitable, and helpful. He is also very receptive to people, both Indian and British, who understand and appreciate him and his traditions. When Mrs. Moore enters the Mosque humble and barefooted, Aziz forgets that he is talking to someone from the ruling class; he speaks his heart to her, while she steals his. He remains faithful to her image until the end of the novel, forgiving Adela because she has been associated with Mrs. Moore.
Although Aziz is not an orthodox Muslim, he is proud of his Muslim tradition and is happy to speak of the glorious Moghul emperors to his British friends. At the end of the novel, he has sought the great tradition of Islamic and Persian poetry to express his feelings and his pride in his country. Islam to him is a way to life, an attitude about the oneness of things, a great cultural tradition rather than a religion.
Although Dr. Aziz is the protagonist and central character of the novel, he is not a hero. He is, however, an honorable Indian man who is wronged by the British and feels he must avenge himself in an appropriate manner. His answer is to seek to know the true India and write about it in poetry.
Ronny Heaslop, the local magistrate of Chandrapore, is a typical product of an English public school upbringing. He knows very little about contemporary India and even less about her ancient cultural heritage. He hides his ignorance of the country he has come to rule by his rudeness, insolence, and arrogance. His strong dislike of India and Indians is obvious from the very beginning. He believes that the British must not be pleasant to Indians and that the only way to hold India under the Union Jack is by force. He is very typical of the kind of English Civil Servants who, at the time, governed India with no respect. Forster had little sympathy for people like Ronny.
Ronny has no originality and is not burdened with any great intelligence. He is naturally suspicious of every one, including his mother. It is difficult to believe that he has not inherited any noble qualities from Mrs. Moore, who is naturally trusting and friendly and who believes that people were born to love each other. Ronny plans to marry Adela, because his mother has brought her to Chandrapore, and it will be a marriage of convenience. It is obvious that he never loves her. When she disappoints him during the trial by exonerating Aziz, he realizes she will not be a fit wife for him. They later break off their engagement. At the end of the novel, Ronny is exactly the same as in the beginning, a totally flat character.