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A Room with a View | Symbols



The piano is a symbol of Lucy Honeychurch's individuality and of personal freedom. It offers her a way to express her individuality freely, something she is often denied in life. The piano helps her express her mood when she isn't free to speak. She, and she alone, decides what to play and how to play it, and is confident in those choices. Even Cecil Vyse notices in Part 2, Chapter 11: "The style of her! How she kept to Schumann when, like an idiot, I wanted Beethoven." In this one small thing, Lucy is able to stay true to her own desires and feelings against Cecil's overbearing manner. Music also serves as an escape from day-to-day life for Lucy. "I myself have worries, but I can generally forget them at the piano," she says in Part 1, Chapter 2.

Lucy taps into a deep well of passion at the piano. Mr. Beebe notes this in Part 1, Chapter 3, when he remarks that her reckless mood is due to "too much Beethoven." Lucy, though, doesn't view it as "too much" at all. In Part 1, Chapter 4, the narrator writes that "Lucy never knew her desires so clearly as after music." It is after a stormy session at the piano that Lucy defies convention and goes out for an adventure in Florence. The piano symbolizes many of the things Lucy wants most in life: passion, self-expression, and personal freedom.

A View

Having a view from a room symbolizes being at ease both in nature and with one's own nature and passions. Mr. Emerson's cheerful claim that "I have a view" in Part 1, Chapter 1, refers to far more than the scene from his window. He has a broad view on the world and cherishes that world immensely.

Lucy's desire for a room with a view represents her wish to expand her horizons, to know her own nature and the world more intimately. Nearly all of Lucy's encounters with George Emerson happen outdoors, surrounded by beautiful views, from the violet fields of Florence to the lush greenery of the bathing pond. Each view shows nature wild and free, just as Lucy herself wishes to be.

Lack of a View

On the flip side, the lack of a view from a room symbolizes the uptight, stuffy society of the day, with its endless rules and restrictions. In Part 1, Chapter 7, Charlotte Bartlett chides Lucy to "come away from the window, dear, you will be seen from the road." Charlotte constantly tries to keep Lucy contained within that safe, viewless box of proper manners and behavior. Lucy longs for more freedom, and to break away from unwanted restrictions.

Along the same lines, Lucy realizes she always pictures Cecil Vyse in a room in Part 2, Chapter 9, rather than outdoors. Cecil is the epitome of the old ways of society: prim, proper, and perfectly put together. Just as the restrictions of society wear on Lucy, so does Cecil as she comes to understand him better.

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