A Room with a View

How the contrasts In character relationships contribute to the important theme In this novel of social conventions versus the truth to one’s nature. The maln contrast In the novel, A room with a view by E. M. Forster, is the contrast between the settings in England and Italy. The main character, Lucy Honeychurch, is a total different person in Italy than in England. In England she is quiet, listens to her mother and niece; in other words she commits to social convention. She acts as the public expects of her to act.

For example in chapter XIII: “Go and dress dear; you’ll be latel All right mother-. Don’t say all right and stop, now go! ” (Forster, 1903:126). Another example is at the beginning of the book where Lucy and Charlotte are arguing over who gets the room with a view, If they could get a room arranged. Charlotte says that Lucys mother would never forgive her If she took the room with the view, because her mother wants Lucy to have a view (Forster, 1908:3). This is a typical example of the social conventions Lucys family wants her to live by.

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Her mother, wanting the best for Lucy, Is actually smothering her daughter. Her cousin, Charlotte, and later on, Cecil, wants Lucy to act In a certain way. Lucy develops throughout the novel, from living up to the social conventions set by her family and Cecil to the girl at the end that is true to herself; and doesn’t care for social conventions, but for her own happiness. In the beginning of the book where George and Mr. Emerson is introduced in to the story: “This Is my son, said the old man, his name Is George.

He has a view too” (Forster, 1 903: 4). George doesnt only have a literal view, but also a figurative view. In other ords he has a view on life; George Emerson is a perfect example of a character that is true to his self. Lucy and George met in Italy. Italy is a symbol for freedom of expression, and being true to oneself. In Italy, everybody acts the way they truly are. Lucy plays life, like she plays her piano, Just as Mr. Beebe said she should (Forster, 1 903: 78). Even Miss Bartlett is acting somewhat strange, gossiping and befriending Miss Lavish.

In Italy, Lucy felt free and was herself when she was surrounded by nature: “She was rejoicing in her escape from the dullness” (Forster, 1903: 62). Nature plays a big role in the novel, Lucy always felt herself In nature, something that can be seen when she tells Cecil about her adventures in “The Sacred Lake”, when she used to bathe with her brother, Freddie, until she was found out by Charlotte (Forster, 1903: 100). Yet again, Charlotte is telling Lucy how to act. Cecil, on the other hand has only one view of life and Is therefore a perfect example of a character who conforms to social convention.

He is traditional, arrogant and he objectifies people. An example is when Cecil is described in Chapter VIII, “… d a head tilted a little higher than the usual level of vision” (Forster, 1903: 81). This tells us quite direct that he is snobbish. He also states In chapter IX that he hates the Idea of an engagement, which also shows the reader Cecil’s view on life: “It is so disgusting, the way an engagement is regarded as public property – a kind of waste place where every outsider may shoot his vulgar sentiment” (Forster, 1903:90-91).

Cecil sees Lucy as one of his possessions, not as his future wife which he should respect and let her make her own decisions. He sees her as a work of art or a magnificent view, something beautiful that belongs to him, and only he can decide what the piece of 1 view’ (Forster, 1903:99). Cecil can also be seen as a slave of social convention because he doesn’t formulate his own thoughts; he only quotes authors or poets. For example when Lucy and George is playing tennis and discussing a book, they both give their own meanings and thoughts on the book; but Cecil tells them what Dante thought of the topic.

He doesn’t have his own opinion, but sees Dante’s opinion as is opinion, and that is the correct one (Forster, 1903: 139). Another good example of a character that conforms to social convention is Miss Charlotte Bartlett. For example when she and Lucy is squabbling about who should get the room with a view, she insists that Lucy should have it: “l insist on it. Your mother would never forgive me, Lucy’ (Forster, 1903:3).

Another example is where Charlotte tells Lucy that she took the larger room because it belonged to the young man, and that her mother would not approve of it if she took the room (Forster, 1903: 12). This statement is also another example of the way Lucy’s mother and Charlotte forces Lucy to commit to social convention. At the end of the novel Lucy finally realizes that she loved George all along. “Standing at its brink, like a swimmer who prepares, was the good man. But he was not the good man that she had expected, and he was alone” (Forster, 1903,: 63).