A Room with a View | Study Guide

E.M. Forster

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A Room with a View | Part 1, Chapter 5 : Possibilities of a Pleasant Outing | Summary



As Part 1, Chapter 5 opens, Lucy Honeychurch finds herself back at the pension without a confidante to discuss her adventure. Her emotions are in a whirl: "She was accustomed to have her thoughts confirmed by others or, at all events, contradicted; it was too dreadful not to know whether she was thinking right or wrong." Lucy decides to play it safe by sticking with Charlotte Bartlett the next day, rather than joining Mr. Beebe and the Emersons on an outing.

Unfortunately, Charlotte leads her back to the murder scene, Piazza Signoria. Miss Eleanor Lavish appears and immediately begins to grill Lucy about the murder, which she intends to write into her novel. Lucy demurs. Miss Lavish apologizes, excusing herself by saying, "We literary hacks are shameless creatures. I believe there's no secret of the human heart into which we wouldn't pry." She also announces her intention to skewer the stereotypical British tourist in her novel, a class of people she despises. As Lucy and Charlotte part ways with Miss Lavish, Lucy reflects that "at present her great aim was not to get put into" the novel. She fears that Miss Lavish may exploit her for a character.

The ladies then encounter Mr. Cuthbert Eager, who invites them to take a country drive with himself and Mr. Beebe later that week. They accept with pleasure. Talk turns to the previous day's murder, with Mr. Eager fishing for gruesome details from Lucy. When they are interrupted by a vendor, however, Eager carelessly rips the man's photographs while waving him away. Mr. Eager next begins a character assassination of Mr. Emerson. He speaks with distaste of Mr. Emerson's background as mechanic, and disdains him for having married well. Mr. Eager brags of having snubbed Mr. Emerson in Santa Croce, and implies that there is some dark secret surrounding Mr. Emerson. Lucy is piqued, and provokes Mr. Eager into revealing the secret. He angrily accuses Mr. Emerson of having murdered his wife, then hastens away without further explanation. The morning leaves a bad taste in Lucy's mouth; she has lost all respect for both Miss Lavish and Mr. Eager.


As events unfold, each character reveals their true nature more clearly. Miss Eleanor Lavish swoops in like a vulture, preying on anyone who might make a sensational character for her novel. Lucy Honeychurch feels uneasy around her—like a piece of meat that Miss Lavish might offer up for her readers to dine on. Mr. Cuthbert Eager is a judgmental gossip and a snob, preferring not to associate with the lower classes. He is openly mean to the photograph vendor—not the kind of behavior one would expect from a clergyman. His accusations against Mr. Emerson are both harsh and serious, yet he offers no proof to back up his claims.

Lucy, on the other hand, is growing and changing in character. Her thoughts and emotions churn over the events of the previous day, when George Emerson came to her rescue after the murder. She doesn't know what to think, and must decide for herself what is right and wrong. Her discomfort with this internal turmoil is apparent in her actions. First, she avoids the outing with the Emersons, not wishing to be near George, who disturbs her in a way she can't quite put her finger on. She also declines to gossip with Miss Lavish about the murder, keeping the details (both gory and intimate) to herself. Lucy is not yet willing or able to express her thoughts or feelings on what are, to her, deeply personal matters.

Lucy's reluctance to speak her mind evaporates when Mr. Eager attacks Mr. Emerson's character. By challenging Mr. Eager, she steps out of the role of meek, obedient, socially correct girl for the first time in her life. She transforms into a woman of strength—a woman who is not afraid to stand up for what she believes. She no longer accepts the opinions of others without question, a complete turnabout from the beginning of the chapter, in which "she was accustomed to have her thoughts confirmed by others."

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