A Room With a View

Major themes

The main themes of this novel include the empowerment of a young Edwardian girl, sensual awakening, the role of institutional religion, growing up and true love. It is written in the third person omniscient, though particular passages are often seen "through the eyes" of a specific character.

A Room with a View is Forster's most romantic and optimistic book. He utilises many of his trademark techniques, including contrasts between "dynamic" and "static" characters. "Dynamic" characters are those whose ideas and inner-self develop or change in the plot, whereas "static" characters remain constant.

Published in 1908, the novel touches upon many issues surrounding society and politics in early 20th century Edwardian culture. Forster differentiates between conservative and radical thinking, illustrated in part by his contrasts between Medieval (Mr. Beebe, Miss Bartlett, Cecil Vyse) and Renaissance characters (Lucy, the Emersons).

Lucy personifies the young and impressionable generation emerging during that era, during which women's suffrage would gain strong ground. Forster, manifesting his own hopes for society, ends the book with Lucy having chosen her own path—a free life with the man she loves. The novel could even be called a Bildungsroman, as it follows the development of the protagonist.

Binary opposites are played throughout the novel, and often there are mentions of "rooms" and "views". Characters and places associated with "rooms" are, more often than not, conservative and uncreative – Mrs Honeychurch is often pictured in a room, as is Cecil. Characters like Freddy and the Emersons, on the other hand, are often described as being "outside" — representing their open, forward-thinking and modern character types. There is also a constant theme of Light and Dark, where on many occasions, Cecil himself states how Lucy represents light, but Forster responds by stating how Cecil is the Dark as they bathe naked in the Honeychurches' pond, alluding to the fact that they can never be together, and that she really belongs with George. Interestingly, the name Lucy means "light", while the name Cecil means "blind", i.e. one who is "in the dark".

Forster also contrasts the symbolic differences between Italy and England. He idealised Italy as a place of freedom and sexual expression. Italy promised raw, natural passion that inspired many Britons at the time who wished to escape the constrictions of English society. While Lucy is in Italy her views of the world change dramatically, and scenes such as the murder in the piazza open her eyes to a world beyond her "protected life in Windy Corner".


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