A Room with a View | Study Guide

E.M. Forster

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A Room with a View | Part 2, Chapter 18 : Lying to Mr. Beebe, Mrs. Honeychurch, Freddy, and the Servants | Summary



At the beginning of Part 2, Chapter 18, Mr. Beebe arrives at Windy Corner just in time to see Cecil Vyse and Freddy Honeychurch departing, Cecil's baggage in tow. They stop to chat briefly. Freddy quietly relays the news that Lucy Honeychurch has dumped Cecil, who is leaving for good. It is a move that Mr. Beebe wholeheartedly approves, as he believes the celibate life to be superior, and hopes that Lucy will choose to remain in that holy state. Mr. Beebe continues on to the house, where he finds the very tense residents in the garden. Mrs. Honeychurch is trying vainly to stake flowers that are being pummeled by the wind. Mrs. Honeychurch is agitated with everything, so Mr. Beebe invites Minnie Beebe and Charlotte Bartlett out to tea to get them out of her hair.

Before they go, Mr. Beebe stops inside to talk with Lucy. He tells her that he knows of the broken engagement. Lucy is peeved that Freddy has shared the news. To change the subject, Mr. Beebe pulls out a letter from the Miss Alans, who have decided to travel to Greece. Lucy seizes on the idea and decides to invite herself along on the trip. "Don't you see that I have to go away?" she moans in desperation. Mr. Beebe later questions Charlotte on the matter during tea. "It is of the highest importance that there should be no gossip in Summer Street," she stresses, putting her full support behind the Greece plan. Mr. Beebe decides to support Lucy's cause, even though he doesn't really understand the need for it. He persuades her mother to allow the trip. As Mr. Beebe leaves the home, Lucy sings a solemn refrain at the piano: "Vacant heart and hand and eye/Easy live and quiet die."


Lucy Honeychurch continues her charade to everyone around her, as noted by the chapter title, "Lying to Mr. Beebe, Mrs. Honeychurch, Freddy, and the Servants." Her pretense for going to Greece is to avoid the gossip that will follow the news of her broken engagement. Her true motive is to avoid George Emerson. She fears that if he hears the news, he will continue to pursue her. Charlotte Bartlett supports the plan because she wants Lucy safely out of George's reach.

Despite her actions, Lucy's true feelings come out in the mournful song she sings. Subconsciously, she is resigning herself to live with "vacant heart and hand and eye"—a heart without love, a hand unheld, and an eye blinded to the beauty of both. Her resolve to "easy live and quiet die" falls in line with her decision never to marry. She will be one of those "admirable" women who follow the rules of polite society, even if it smothers her soul in the process. George's love is not enough to help her overcome her fear of breaking those rules and disappointing her family.

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