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[69] A Room with a View – E. M. Forster

forster.jpgThe novel, which unmasks the illusions, repressions, snobberies, and hypocrisies of the British social life, offers a bright human observation at the Pension Bertolini in Florence. Description of social contrasts–class, values, dealings of life, cultural perspectives–sinks in at the very beginning as slices of social nuances converge at the dining room, where the two missies under the guise of unselfishness wrangle over whoever would take the room with a view. Making the most of her office as a chaperon and poor relation to her younger cousin Lucy Honeychurch, the elderly, selfish, and mean Charlotte Bartlett manages to exploit her sex, her class, her snobbery and her gentility to manipulate, and to take advantage of the lower-class Emersons in order to gain possessions of two rooms with a view (and not to mention, secures the better one for herself).

From this on all the trivial objects: the views, the sights, sightseeing, pictures, guides, maps, the lack of maps, seeing itself, perception, veil, the seen and the unseen–all become essential themes, which accompany our young heroine who, with an undeveloped heart, seeks to find a freer life, with a more open experience and a new passionate intensity. Lucy was presented the complete picture of a cheerless, dreary world in which the young rush to destruction until they learn better. Expectations of the world, which consist of family and church, force her to succumb to pretense, even in to whom she will marry. Living a life at the mercy of others’ expectations and decisions has atrophied her own will, for she is accustomed to have her thoughts confirmed by others, or at all events, contradicted. She is uncertain in many an enterprise as love, since she is raised in a shamefaced world of precautions and barriers that may avery evil but that doesn’t seem to bring good and happiness. That is why she is afraid to reveal her soul and panick at the thought of self-knowledge. She refuses the room with a view–and that is more than just a room with the view–but rather a view of her soul, her own desire to be happy, her own perception to happiness.

A rebel at heart, Lucy refuses to be limited, besides to be at equality with the person she loves. She wants no protection and hates the fact that she couldn’t be trusted with her thoughts. Although she longs for independence and her selfhood, but ironically, as one might call it the ingenunity of fate, the answer to her longing is in marriage and romantic love, with George Emerson being its most unspeaking symbol. The novel celebrates the triumph of love and truth, though she doesn’t not believe first of all in personal relations, which in fact she figts so hard to stifle any passions and emotions.

A Room with a View is more than a love story–it’s a social comedy that satirizes the hypocrisy, and a personal odessey to self-revelations and truth of the body, which enables her to see the bottom of her soul and see the whole of everything at once.

6 Responses

  1. Thank you for your excellent review of one of my favorite books by an author I admire very much. R. W. A. V. must be the most accessible of all E. M. Forster’s novels, and I certainly felt a great empathy with the character of movement, Lucy Honeychurch (and what a wonderful name for a character of movement). The novel certainly deserves the popularity it has found. I wish I had read this novel in my youth instead of my forties, though in many ways it’s theme of self discovery with the struggle to overcome the stifling influences of my earlier life was still very pertinent. I look forward to other reviews you might happen to offer of E. M. Forster’s work.

  2. It’s amazing how E. M. Forster could have packed so many themes and subtlties into a thin volume. It’s quite an entertainment to read this. As you see, it’s not necessarily easier to comprehend a small book, not when you want to discern the author’s intentions and meanings. Great review.

  3. I’ve read this one twice and loved it both times. I also enjoyed Forster’s ‘Where Angels Fear to Tread,’ which has some of the same themes and is, as I recall, more humorous. The film is pretty decent, too.

    Very nice review!

  4. What a wonderful review! I’ve never read this and I don’t remember seeing the movie either. I think I’ll add this one to the Mountain.

  5. […] Arthur Hailey Hotel de Dream, Edmund White Hotel Honolulu, Paul Theroux A Room with a View, E.M. […]

  6. […] enjoy E.M Forster’s A Room With a View. Matt over at A Guy’s Moleskine Notebook calls the book “more than a love story–it’s a social comedy that satirizes the hypocrisy, and a personal […]

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