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‘A Room with a View’
‘A Room with a View’

‘A Room with a View’

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E.M.Forster wrote 'A Room with a View' and it was published in 1908. Critically this novel has been treated as a fine example of travel literature, character development and comedy. Forster's novel was immediately popular with early readers, as he wanted to offer his reader a significantly different perspective of females poised on the edge of a new century.

Forster's infatuation with Tuscany and the Italian culture is shown throughout the novel,"Italians are born knowing the way." (Chapter 6)This is brought to life through the changing way of England's history of that time. Whereby Queen Victoria's death, brought her son King Edward VII to the throne, and it was he who worked hard to improve foreign relations and his love of foreign culture and travel ensured that people noticed this attitude and British society grew more tolerant.'A Room with a View' is in many ways a conventional romantic novel, with any main character we see Lucy Honeychurch develop throughout the novel towards a state of self-awareness and understanding of her own character. The other character is Charlotte Bartlett, both characters hold very different values, which are apparent in their mannerisms and outlook on life. Cousin Charlotte is not as rich as Lucy and travels with monetary help from Lucy's mother.

In return for this help, Charlotte tries to impart her wisdom to Lucy by acting as chaperone. Instead, she comes off as a self-serving spinster who loves to play the role of 'prematurely aged martyr'During their trip to Italy Charlotte's obvious Victorian values are shown as

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soon as they arrive at the hotel when they discover that there is not a view from their rooms. With the intervention of the Emerson's who swapped rooms with them Charlotte takes the larger of the two and declares to Lucy,'..

.but I happen to know that it belongs to the young man, and I was sure your mother would not like it'These Victorian values become more apparent as her character develops more. As Lucy leans out of the window in Chapter 2 in order to watch the soldiers in a procession, Charlotte scolds her! Holding her Victorian values it is shocking to her that men may be able to see Lucy. This continues when Charlotte tells her not to leave her door unlocked, indicating a distinct lack of trust and a cynical view of life.

This stirs a feeling of rebellion within Lucy about the whole affair,'She entered the room without any feeling of joy.'Charlotte also appears quite manipulative to the na�ve Lucy, she constantly criticises herself, in order that Lucy feels in some way responsible. Charlotte is terribly lonely, clingy, and loves to play the emotional martyr."I am too uninteresting and old-fashioned - only fit to pack and unpack your things"Lucy is from a middle class family; she unsuccessfully attempts to mould herself into a proper woman to please her mother and her teacher Charlotte. As much as E.

M Forster seemingly mocks the Victorian manners and mannerisms, which depended solely on fashion, conversation and behaviour, Charlotte lives and breathes these principles. Leaving Lucy annoyed at the restrictions placed on her by this society

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and enforced by Charlotte, but she has no system of rebellion. This brings Lucy to feel intolerant of her surroundings, and her freedom restricted by Miss Bartlett'It isn't true. It can't all be true.

I want not to be muddled. I want to grow older quickly'Lucy's use of music shows a different side to her character, and she seems to feel a kind of freedom that usually she has to suppress within her society'It so happened that Lucy, who found daily life rather chaotic, entered a more solid world when she opened the piano'To Lucy her music is a means of escape from the narrowness of society. This is shown in the beginning of Chapter 3 whereby she plays on the Bertolini piano and she finds the world a simpler place,'...

it will accept those whom breeding and intellect and culture here alike have rejected'Lucy's feelings for George Emerson are introduced during the scene in the square whereby a man is fatally stabbed in front of her, after she awoke from fainting she found she was on the steps of the Uffizi Arcade in the arms of George who had carried her there. On awaking and having stepped into a different scenario of male and female relationships all she wanted to do was run away as it was something that Charlotte had always forbid her to do. This was the first time that Lucy's passions had been aroused. This meeting is after Lucy had ventured out alone and bought some postcards only for them to be stained with blood and for George to throw them into the Arno. This shows Lucy's attempt at 'bravery'.

Brave enough to go out alone but not brave enough to handle the situation without George to protect her.Lucy during this trip had been introduced to a different landscape and with it different feelings. For the first time she breaks with tradition and embraces the passion of Italy by expressing her own opinion in Santa Croce'I like Giotto,' she replied 'It is so wonderful what they say about his tactile values...

'She continues with this newfound sense of worth'For the first time Lucy's rebellious thoughts swept out in words - for the first time in her life'This is after Mr Emerson responds bluntly to Lucy and why he believes that Lucy is a muddled girl,'I think you are repeating what you have heard older people say'Lucy then has no answer'Loosing her courage, and relapsing into the old chaotic methods'The world where Lucy lives is changing and women are finding their voices and expressing their views, the suffragette movement had started even though women still could not vote. Lucy feels as though she is trapped between two societiesMiss Bartlett feels responsible for Lucy being left alone long enough for George Emerson to kiss her in the middle of the violets on the hillside. This is an intolerable situation for Charlotte who apart from her Victorian values is also a prude and views George as 'a cad' and"as thoroughly unrefined. Let us put it down to his deplorable antecedents and education, if you wish""How are you going to stop him

talking about it?"It is Charlotte's worst fear that somebody would have seen the kiss and for him or her to tell Lucy's mother. When Lucy says she proposes to speak to George about the situation,"Miss Bartlett uttered a cry of genuine alarm"Lucy has been very protected by her family and friends but her feelings for George"The impulse had come before today, but never so strongly"E.

M.Forster seems to take his characters abroad as a means of showing their lack of freedom at home. Italy provides the impetus for Lucy to take her life forward as she so wants. In 'A Room with a View' Italy is the place where there is no definition of convention or class within society, this is a place where Lucy is comfortable and uses the time to find herself.

It is from this point where Mr Emerson correctly states that Lucy Honeychurch is a 'Poor muddled girl' she is on a journey of self-discovery and in the first part of the novel in Italy then I would have to agree that Lucy is seen as 'muddled'. She is torn between conventional Victorian society within her family and a rapidly changing society that is becoming more tolerant. As different feelings come to the surface Lucy begins to find her direction still under the watchful eye of her cousin Charlotte Bartlett.Charlotte's view and mannerisms are completely Victorian and she has no intention of changing. She is happy being the way she is but cannot understand Lucy's wants or needs to explore her inner-self further.

Within Victorian society women know their place and they are not expected to add their opinion. Lucy in contrast wants to learn and experience 'new' things without the need for Charlotte's constant interruptions and prudish mannerisms.