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16/30 Day Book Meme: Female Lead

In which I reflect upon a memorable character from a timeless classic.

Day 16: A Favorite Female Character

Lucy Honeychurch from E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View makes an impression that outshines any of the Jane Austen heroines. Lucy shines because she is undergoing a self-transformation and breaking away from the conventions in which she was raised. She is an ordinary, extraordinary girl. On the outside, she’s a pretty, dark-haired, unremarkable and proper young English lady. Sure, she may express some unusual opinions at times, but everyone just puts that down to her youth and inexperience. The truth is: she doesn’t know what she wants. For almost half of the novel, she keeps her emotions in check. Her most exciting moments are reserved for her piano playing; readers might wonder, as the pastor does, what will happen if that excitement ever breaks free from her music and invades her everyday life. Lucy is raised in a way that she neither trusts her emotions nor encourages her own thoughts. She cannot see her intentions and her emotions don’t match; her conscious and subconscious are in dispute. In breaking off the engagement with Cecil she has done the right thing; but it takes a fair amount of lying (in the sense of denying her emotion for George Emerson) and an accident or two to put her in the right. After just a few days in the permissive atmosphere of Italy, Lucy’s formerly sedate, conventional view of the world begins to rapidly crumble; she starts to feel discontented and uncertain about her lifestyle for the first time. Knowing that she will come out of a nutshell after a series of self-struggle, lying, and denials just thrills me. It’s almost like watching an ugly duckling’s slow, gradual metamorphosis to a swan.

12 Responses

  1. I am intrigued enough with your description of Lucy to want to read this book. It has been on my TBR list for a very long time.

  2. Great description of Lucy! She is a character that I find very easy to relate to and I do love her for her conventional views that crumble under pressure. The identity process that she goes through makes for great reading.

    • What makes it so interesting is E.M. Foster implants in her all the conventional values and completely subvert them as she becomes self-enlightened.

  3. Wish I could come up with my favourite female character. May be I need to think deep to come up with this.

    • This is by far the most difficult question to answer because fiction revolves more around women than men. Think how many of your favorite novels concern heroines.

  4. Harriet Vane, of Dorothy Sayes’ Peter Wimsey detective series. Sayers said she was a bit in love with Wimsey, her character. When she wrote his counterpart, she made her quirky and independent and brilliant. Harriet Vane is a very educated woman in the 1920’s, when Peter proposes (after rescuing her from the dock) she flatly refuses.(Strong Poison) Through the course of the next two novels (Have His Carcass and Gaudy Night), Sayers examines the minute recalibrations as their relationship changes. I think what I love most about those books is that Sayers articulates the negatives of a relationship–even a good relationship–Harriet is aware of what marriage might/will do to her writing career, she’s afraid the essential she that she is will be changed, she’s uncomfortable with Peter’s wealth and rank. Love those books.

    (And have been enjoying your blog for a while. Thanks!)

    • Ah Harriet Vane, now I remember from the poison book. I need to dig out Dorothy Sayers’ series. I read Strong Poison all in one sitting and couldn’t find her other works.

  5. I’ve always wanted to read this and see the movie. You have definitely moved it up my list. I love a complex female character.

  6. […] 16/30 Day Book Meme: Female Lead […]

  7. […] 16: A favorite female characer Lucy Honeychurch from A Room with a View by E.M. […]

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