A Room with a View | Study Guide

E.M. Forster

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A Room with a View | Part 2, Chapter 11 : In Mrs. Vyse's Well-Appointed Flat | Summary



As Part 2, Chapter 11 opens, Lucy Honeychurch is on an extended visit to Cecil's mother, Mrs. Vyse, in London. While Lucy is away, the Emersons move into Cissie Villa. Lucy soon receives a letter from Charlotte Bartlett. Relations have cooled between the cousins since the incident with George Emerson in Florence, and Charlotte's letter makes things even worse. Charlotte writes that Miss Eleanor Lavish has been traveling in Lucy's neighborhood, and that she has seen George there. Charlotte advises Lucy to tell her family and Cecil of George's behavior in Italy, so that they might forbid him from visiting. Lucy, quite annoyed, writes back to say that she has not told her family because of the promise she made Charlotte not to do so. Moreover, she has no intention of telling them now. Still, Charlotte's letter makes Lucy second-guess herself. She tries to tell Cecil the truth of what happened with George, but cannot.

Mrs. Vyse throws a dinner party attended by "the grandchildren of famous people," and Lucy, impressed, notes how different they are from her own people. "Lucy saw that her London career would estrange her a little from all that she had loved in the past." When asked to play the piano, Lucy chooses somber songs by Schumann rather than Beethoven, as Cecil suggests. Mrs. Vyse privately encourages Cecil to "Make Lucy one of us" and notes that she is "purging off the Honeychurch taint."


The meeting of Lucy Honeychurch and George Emerson begins to seem inevitable, with Lucy's past actions coming back to haunt her. She has lied to her family, calling Mr. Emerson by the name "Harris" in Chapter 9. She has broken faith with her mother and Cecil Vyse, neglecting to tell them of George because she promised Charlotte her silence. Soon, she will have to face the music—and George. The idea of seeing George again fills Lucy with dread, and Charlotte's letter rubs salt in the wound.

The dinner party offers more uncomfortable insights for Lucy. The Vyses socialize with only the highest class of people: world-weary, witty, and refined. In comparison, the people of Windy Corner and the Pension Bertolini seem like country bumpkins, indeed. Lucy realizes she will become more like Cecil's acquaintances and will have less in common with her own friends and family over time. The sad music she chooses to play for the guests gives a hint of what Lucy is feeling on this matter.

Mrs. Vyse serves as an example of exactly what Lucy might become as Cecil's wife. She is described as "a nice woman, but her personality, like many another's, had become swamped by London." The author implies that being too much amongst society, with its straitlaced manners and attitudes, has drowned Mrs. Vyse's individuality. She has become one of many, just like her bored and affected acquaintances. When Mrs. Vyse encourages Cecil to "make Lucy one of us," the reader almost feels a chill and wants to shout, "No!" Lucy's warmth and compassionate nature could very well be lost in the mindless sea of high society. She could become as dull and proper as Mrs. Vyse herself—which is precisely what Cecil wants. The "Honeychurch taint" of free laughter, honestly given opinions, and the occasional roll on the grassy lawn has no place in the Vyses' world.

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