A Room with a View | Study Guide

E.M. Forster

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A Room with a View | Part 1, Chapter 6 : The Reverend Arthur Beebe [and Others] ... See a View; Italians Drive Them | Summary

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Summary

The day of the outing to the country arrives. Mr. Beebe has invited the Emersons and Miss Eleanor Lavish along—much to Mr. Cuthbert Eager's displeasure. Their driver brings his girlfriend, too, pretending she is his sister. Lucy Honeychurch reflects on how fate has thrown her and George Emersons together again, despite her attempts to avoid him. Meanwhile, Mr. Eager and Miss Lavish chatter about tourists, expatriates living in the area, literature, and art. The carriage lurches, and Mr. Eager turns to find the driver kissing his "sister." Mr. Eager angrily orders the girl out of the carriage over the protests of most of the party. Mr. Emerson, in particular, objects. He points to the beautiful trees surrounding them, saying, "Fifty miles of Spring, and we've come up to admire them. Do you suppose there's any difference between Spring in nature and Spring in man? But there we go, praising the one and condemning the other as improper." The party ignores his uncomfortable line of reasoning.

At last they arrive, and the party breaks into groups to explore the hillside and admire the views. Lucy tries to tag along with Charlotte Bartlett and Miss Lavish, but they send her away so they can gossip privately. She then searches for Mr. Eager and Mr. Beebe, guided by the friendly carriage driver. They traipse through intoxicating violets, and "for the first time she felt the influence of Spring." The driver leads her directly to George Emerson, who kisses her amidst the dazzling beauty of the blooming flowers. At that moment, Charlotte appears.

Analysis

E.M. Forster's arch precision in naming the different English characters in the title for Part 1, Chapter 6 is in sharp contrast to his dismissal of the other characters as "Italians." The double standard by which the characters view their own behavior and that of the locals is seen as the English characters misbehave with gossip, snobbery, and kisses, but turn the driver's girlfriend out of the carriage after the two kiss.

Characters continue to reveal their true natures as they speak and act. Mr. Cuthbert Eager and Miss Eleanor Lavish again show their snobbery and dislike of the lower classes, passing judgment on anyone and everyone. Charlotte Bartlett is completely enamored of Miss Lavish and can't resist her titillating gossip and scandalous wit. In her foolish fascination with this "clever lady," Charlotte neglects her duty as chaperone to Lucy Honeychurch, which leaves Lucy open to the encounter with George Emerson.

The metaphor of spring in bloom has many parallels in this chapter. The driver and his girlfriend are blooming in love, as Mr. Emerson points out in comparing them to the verdant trees. No one wants to hear his theories, however. Polite society compels them to deny one of the most basic aspects of human nature: sexual attraction. Mr. Emerson believes that love and attraction are natural and nothing to be ashamed of. And while there are some in the party who might agree with him, none have the courage to say so. It simply wouldn't do.

Violets carpet the landscape, and in the preceding Victorian Era, violets symbolized love and faithfulness. The flowers are a sign that readers of the time would recognize: a sign that Lucy and George are meant to fall in love. When the author writes, "for the first time she felt the influence of Spring," the reader realizes that Lucy is beginning to feel the tug of irresistible love at her heart strings, despite her own misgivings.

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