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A Room with a View | Discussion Questions 21 - 30

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What clues does E.M. Forster give that Charlotte Bartlett may have had her own brush with love in A Room with a View?

Several passages in the text make readers wonder about Charlotte Bartlett's past, and whether she had been burned by love. Examples include: In Part 1, Chapter 1, Charlotte will not allow Lucy Honeychurch to stay in the room that was George Emerson's. She comments that "I am a woman of the world, in my small way, and I know where things lead to." In Part 1, Chapter 7, Charlotte cannot give George the benefit of the doubt over whether he will keep silent about the kiss during the country drive. She says, "unfortunately, I have met the type before. They seldom keep their exploits to themselves." She goes on to state that Lucy "cannot realize what men can be—how they can take a brutal pleasure in insulting a woman." In Part 2, Chapter 17, after Lucy has broken up with Cecil Vyse and determined never to marry, the narrator states that "[t]he night received her, as it had received Miss Bartlett thirty years before." In Part 2, Chapter 20, George wonders whether Charlotte had helped him and Lucy come together at last. He mentions that "the sight of us haunted her—or she couldn't have described us as she did to her friend. There are details—it burnt."

What is the significance of the title A Room with a View, and how does it relate to symbolism in the novel?

The title, A Room with a View, refers directly to the Pension Bertolini, where the Emersons are given rooms with a view, while Lucy Honeychurch and Charlotte Bartlett are not. Having a view, or lacking a view, symbolizes the worldviews of the characters. In Part 1, Chapter 1, Mr. Emerson states, "I have a view," and says that his son has one, too. The Emersons have an open outlook on life, and value freedom of thought and action. Lucy and Charlotte, who have no view, have a closed outlook on life, and value following tradition and maintaining the status quo. When the characters change rooms, it is symbolic of Lucy taking the first step toward broadening her own view, or outlook on life.

How does A Room with a View reflect the historical and cultural context of the time in which it was written?

A Room with a View was written at the juncture of two major eras in British history: the Victorian Era and the Edwardian Era. During the Victorian Era, social boundaries were quite rigid, and people mainly socialized with those of their own class. The Edwardian Era brought many changes, both economically and socially. England was enjoying a period of increased prosperity due to the Industrial Revolution, and a rising middle class was seeking more personal freedom and greater social mobility. Women, in particular, began to step into roles traditionally reserved for men, including working outside the home. They also began to demand greater rights, wanting their voices to be heard in society. The characters in the novel grapple with many of these ideas, especially through the themes of social class and women's roles.

How does E.M. Forster use satire to reveal his ideas in A Room with a View?

Authors use satire to ridicule or expose people, places, or ideas. In A Room with a View, E.M. Forster satirizes both the upper class and religion through situations and characters that represent those institutions. A perfect case is the Pension Bertolini. It is full of well-to-do British tourists who, presumably, want to see and experience the world, yet they separate themselves into insulated groups of people who are just like themselves. Lucy Honeychurch remarks, "It might be London" as she looks over the table of British tourists, the portrait of Queen Victoria, and the notices posted in English. Forster satirizes religion through the characters of Mr. Beebe and Mr. Cuthbert Eager. Mr. Beebe, who should care for all his parishioners equally, loses interest in Lucy once she decides to marry George Emerson. Mr. Eager is a clearer case of the shortcomings of religion. As a figure of religious authority, Mr. Eager should demonstrate traits such as mercy and tolerance. Instead, he is a pompous gossip, a narrow-minded snob, and sometimes quite mean.

How are A Room with a View and E.M. Forster's novel A Passage to India similar in terms of theme?

A Room with a View deals with themes of social class, women's roles, and truth. Other important topics in the novel include love, independence, and the interaction between people of different cultures. A Passage to India includes some themes that are similar. Women's roles are one. The English women are viewed through a traditional, conservative lens as the "weaker sex" who need to be protected by men. The Indian women live daily life segregated from the men. Social class is also an important theme, as the Indian nationals are seen as second-class citizens to the colonial British residents. In addition, Indians segregated themselves by class with the caste system. The interaction and clashes between these two cultures form the backbone of the novel, which also features the Indian independence movement.

What key scenes in A Room with a View demonstrate Lucy Honeychurch and George Emerson's developing intimacy?

Several important scenes show the growing rapport between Lucy Honeychurch and George Emerson, including: Part 1, Chapter 4: Lucy and George witness a murder in the streets of Florence, and he catches her when she faints. As he walks her home, the shock of the incident causes George to reveal his emotional sensitivity. Lucy is drawn in. Part 1, Chapter 6: George kisses Lucy amidst the beauty of the hillside field covered in violets. He sees her "as one who had fallen out of heaven," while Lucy later compared him in the moment to a hero from a book or a god. Part 2, Chapter 12: At the Sacred Lake, Lucy witnesses a radiantly happy George, who greets her with friendly enthusiasm. It is not at all what she expected from their first meeting, and her mind continues to replay the beautiful scene. Part 2, Chapter 15: George kisses Lucy in the garden after Cecil Vyse reads aloud the lovers' passage from Miss Eleanor Lavish's novel. Part 2, Chapter 16: George bares his soul to Lucy, declaring his love, and does everything in his power to dissuade her from marrying Cecil. Lucy turns a deaf ear to his arguments, but later restates those very ideas when she ends her engagement with Cecil.

What problem does Lucy Honeychurch still face at the end of A Room with a View, and what causes this problem?

Readers discover in Part 2, Chapter 20 that Lucy Honeychurch has alienated her family and friends at Windy Corner. They are upset with her, not necessarily because she married George Emerson, whom they generally like, but because of her extensive lies preceding the marriage. The family had no clue when Lucy broke up with Cecil Vyse that George was also vying for her affections. It must have come as quite a shock to them when Lucy wed so soon after the broken engagement. Moreover, the quick marriage would have been viewed as improper by society, something her mother would be conscious of. Mrs. Honeychurch had refused to give her blessing to the marriage, a fact that clearly shows her disapproval.

How does Cecil Vyse inadvertently bring Lucy Honeychurch and George Emerson together in A Room with a View?

Cecil Vyse's actions bring Lucy Honeychurch and George Emerson into closer proximity or intimacy more than once, thus giving George the chance to win Lucy's heart. The most important act happens in Part 2, Chapter 10, when Cecil recruits the Emersons to live in Summer Street in order to spite Sir Harry Otway. He does not realize that George is his rival for Lucy's affections, and that he has brought the fox into the henhouse, so to speak. A second notable event occurs in Part 2, Chapter 15 at Windy Corner. Cecil reads aloud the passage from the romance novel, not realizing it is modeled after the kiss Lucy and George shared in Italy. George seizes the moment by kissing Lucy once again.

What is the symbolism of the storm during the country drive in Part 1, Chapter 6 of A Room with a View?

In Part 1, Chapter 6, the storm comes up suddenly during the outing to the countryside near Florence, and forces the party to return to the city in a hurry. The storm mirrors Lucy Honeychurch and Charlotte Bartlett's turbulent emotions over the events that have just happened. Lucy is in a confused state after her magical, forbidden kiss with George Emerson, while Charlotte is wracked with guilt at having left Lucy unsupervised. She has failed in her duty as chaperone, and fears that Mrs. Honeychurch will be angry with her. The thunder, lighting, and rain also symbolize the emotional storm that has begun to brew within Lucy. She will continue to deny her growing feelings for George, as they have the potential to upset her neatly planned future. George, however, remains out in the elements, choosing to find his own way back to the pension. He is neither afraid of the storm, nor of his passionate emotions.

Why does Lucy Honeychurch keep her broken engagement to Cecil Vyse a secret in A Room with a View?

Immediately prior to the break-up in Part 2, Chapter 16, George Emerson declares his love for Lucy Honeychurch and tries to persuade her to marry him instead of Cecil Vyse. Lucy, now fully knowing George's feelings, does not want him to hear of the broken engagement. She fears his pursuit of her, as well as her own out-of-control feelings for him. She is afraid that if George continues to pursue her, he may catch her. Then she would be forced to face her family with the truth she does not want to admit, even to herself: that she loves George, not Cecil. Such an admission would change her whole future, and would disappoint her family, too. Lucy needs more time to work up the courage to be truthful.

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