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A Room with a View | Quotes


Have you ever noticed that there are people who do things which are most indelicate, and yet at the same time—beautiful?

Miss Catherine Alan, Part 1, Chapter 1

Miss Catherine Alan comments on Mr. Emerson's offer to change rooms with Lucy and Charlotte. While it is "indelicate," or improper according to society, the offer is also kindly meant, and thus beautiful. Lucy must decide what is beautiful and right to her, rather than to society, and the Emersons often represent this conflict.


It is so difficult—at least, I find it difficult—to understand people who speak the truth.

Mr. Beebe, Part 1, Chapter 1

In polite society of the day, it was usual for people to hide their true thoughts and feelings in order to act in an "appropriate" manner. Mr. Beebe points out that, in such a society, anyone who says what is really on his mind is incomprehensible to the average person.


You will never repent of a little civility to your inferiors. That is the true democracy.

Miss Eleanor Lavish, Part 1, Chapter 2

Forster takes a satirical jab at the snobbish English tourist abroad, represented by Miss Eleanor Lavish. If Miss Lavish were truly democratic, she would not consider others to be her inferiors, but rather her equals.


If Miss Honeychurch ever takes to live as she plays, it will be very exciting both for us and for her.

Mr. Beebe, Part 1, Chapter 3

Mr. Beebe notices how, when Lucy Honeychurch plays the piano, she transforms into a different person, expressing the passion that is buried beneath her polite facade. He believes she has the potential to live a truly great life if she can tap into that passion and put it to work in the rest of her life.


She was accustomed to have her thoughts confirmed by others ... it was too dreadful not to know whether she was thinking right or wrong.

Narrator, Part 1, Chapter 5

The narrator's commentary on Lucy Honeychurch here shows plainly that she does not know her mind, but rather follows the dictates of society in everything she does. Lucy's struggle to define and act on her true beliefs is one of the key themes of the novel.


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.

Mr. Emerson, Part 1, Chapter 6

Here, Mr. Emerson objects to the separation of the driver and his girlfriend during the country drive. Mr. Emerson believes that humans are a part of nature. To him, it doesn't make sense to deny the natural passions that arise, just as it wouldn't make sense to blame the trees for growing leaves.


Mistrust all enterprises that require new clothes.

Narrator, Part 2, Chapter 12

These words are an inscription that Mr. Emerson has painted on his wardrobe. The quotation is adapted from Henry David Thoreau's Walden, which recommends simplicity as a way of life. The implication is that a person should take part in activities that are as natural and comfortable as the old clothes he wears when he isn't trying to impress anyone else.


Choose a place where you won't do very much harm, and stand in it for all you are worth, facing the sunshine.

George Emerson, Part 2, Chapter 15

George Emerson suggests that whatever a person does, he cannot completely avoid harming others. His metaphor is one of shadow and sun, with the shadow being life's troubles, and the sun, life's joys. It is George's philosophy to gather as much joy as he can while doing as little harm to others as possible.


My father says that there is only one perfect view—the view of the sky straight over our heads.

George Emerson, Part 2, Chapter 15

George Emerson's thinking has been greatly influenced by his father. In this quote, the view of the sky above represents heavenly perfection, contrasted with the "imperfect" views presented by everyday life. Creation is perfect and eternal, man is flawed and mortal. By continually looking to the sky, or one's higher self, a person can strive to attain that eternal perfection.


He looked at her, instead of through her, for the first time since they were engaged. From a Leonardo she had become a living woman.

Narrator, Part 2, Chapter 17

Cecil Vyse has just lost Lucy Honeychurch, and in doing so, comes to an important understanding. He realizes that he has not viewed Lucy as a complete person in her own right: he has stereotyped her because she is a woman. This quote reflects the book's theme of women's roles in society.


Taste not when the wine cup glistens/Speak not when the people listens/Stop thine ear against the singer/From the red gold keep thy finger.

Lucy Honeychurch, Part 2, Chapter 18

Lucy Honeychurch sings this mournful tune from Sir Walter Scott's "Lucy Ashton's Song" after deciding that she will never marry. She imagines she will become a paragon of female virtue, untouched and morally impeccable. The unspoken context is that Lucy cannot admit she is in love with George Emerson; society considers their love improper, and thus, so does she.


She disliked confidences, for they might lead to self-knowledge and to that king of terrors—Light.

Narrator, Part 2, Chapter 19

Lucy Honeychurch cannot admit to her mother that she wants to go to Greece to avoid George Emerson. She fears that saying so will bring up another truth she has been unwilling to recognize: that she loves George. She is not ready expose her dark secrets to the light for all to see. She is not ready to be judged for who she really is.


Yes, for we fight for more than Love or Pleasure, there is Truth. Truth counts, Truth does count.

Mr. Emerson, Part 2, Chapter 19

Lucy Honeychurch can deny herself love and pleasure when she believes she is doing so for a higher purpose—to uphold societal values. Mr. Emerson, though, strikes on an argument that she can't deny: truth, too, is noble and worth upholding.

This argument dovetails with the true wish of Lucy's heart—to love George Emerson—and she seizes on it as the salvation that will pull her out of her own web of lies and confusion. She is ready to face the consequences of telling her truth and acting on that truth.

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