A Room with a View | Study Guide

E.M. Forster

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A Room with a View | Part 1, Chapter 7 : They Return | Summary



In Part 1, Chapter 7, the party hastily departs as a storm gathers. George Emerson decides to walk home. Darkness, rain, and lightning descend upon the carriages as they drive. Charlotte Bartlett bribes the driver for his silence; he has witnessed the kiss between Lucy Honeychurch and George, and Charlotte fears he will spread the tale. Lucy, in a fit of emotion, pours her heart out to Charlotte about George. Lucy thinks aloud, admitting that the kiss was not all George's fault: "I want to be really truthful. I am a little to blame, I had silly thoughts." Her excuse for allowing the kiss is that she had, for a moment, seen George as larger than life, like a hero in a book, or a god. Lucy thoughts and emotions are beyond her understanding. She and Charlotte agree to discuss the matter fully in private later that evening. "At last," Lucy thinks, "I shall understand myself."

The talk, however, does not go as Lucy hopes. Charlotte talks only of silencing George. Lucy proposes to speak to him directly to resolve the matter, but Charlotte insists that she is too naive to do so. Lucy agrees to leave for Rome first thing in the morning. As they pack, Charlotte laments that she has failed in her duties as a chaperone. Lucy promises that she will not speak of the incident to her mother or anyone else. Lying in bed later, though, Lucy realizes Charlotte has taken advantage of her; she has used Lucy's sympathetic nature to extract a promise Lucy should never have given.

George at last arrives at the pension. Lucy listens helplessly through the door while Charlotte marches him off to the drawing room for a word in private.


The wild ride home through the stormy countryside mirrors Lucy Honeychurch's stormy emotions. The fearsome thunder and lightning cause her quiet reserve to crack. She has no one to turn to but Charlotte Bartlett, and unleashes a torrent of emotions she can no longer hold back. Charlotte comforts Lucy, but uses this moment of intimacy against her later that evening when she persuades the girl to keep silent about George Emerson.

The differences between Lucy and Charlotte stand out starkly in this chapter. Lucy wants to know her own mind on love, and wishes to be truthful to herself and others. Charlotte, on the other hand, thinks mainly of propriety and of hiding information from others. She wishes to safeguard their reputations, while Lucy wishes to examine her feelings in order to understand them. Charlotte gives little consideration to Lucy's feelings and is more concerned with damage control. To Charlotte, any relationship between Lucy and George would be unsuitable, and therefore, her first duty is to prevent anything further from happening. Charlotte assumes that she knows what is best for Lucy, and Lucy accepts her views without putting up much of a fight. Lucy is still vulnerable to being emotionally manipulated, and continues to accept the opinions of others to guide her actions. Lucy second-guesses herself, becoming meek and obedient to Charlotte. She is cowed by the older woman's certainty in action. Had Lucy followed her first impulse to speak with George herself, the course of their story might have changed drastically.

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