Not Ginny's View Research Paper
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Room With a View
There are several different themes that the author of A Room with a View, E.M. Forster, addresses. In this work he illustrates the class system that was found in England and throughout most of Europe, in which money and social graces were the chief distinguishing points between those who have and those who have not. He also discusses the need for independence -- specifically the independence of women, a concept that is identified by the fate of the novel's protagonist Lucy Honeychurch. Love is another major theme found throughout the duration of this work, in all of its manifestations, the physical, the spiritual, and the mental. Perhaps the author's true talent lies in the fact that he is able to combine all of these themes with Lucy's lot at the end of the tale. A careful analysis of this work reveals that Lucy's marriage George Emerson symbolizes a true awakening of her soul because she is able to consummate love, transcend social boundaries, and assert her own independence in this "rare literary document" (Fillion 266).
Although Lucy eventually marries in her native England, she becomes duly aware of the repression that has characterized her life on all three of these fronts (love, independence, and social boundaries) via her trip to Italy. Through various experiences in Italy, Lucy is able to act on the latent stirrings in her soul and truly free it so that she can live a life full of passion and one not constructed by social norms. The fact that a character needs to get away from his or her native England and its restrictions to find love is a recurring motif in Forster's work, as the fate of Lilia in Where Angles Fear to Tread indicates (Forster). Experiences such as meeting Mr. Emerson, watching a man get murdered, and watching a pair of lovers passionately kiss all produce a profound impact on Lucy that leads her to believe that her life heretofore had been just a relatively meaningless series of encounters with the same "circle of rich, pleasant people, with identical interests and identical foes" (Forster). However, by interacting with those who were outside of that circle in Italy, Lucy was able to realize that the social limitations which had shaped her all of her life were mere restrictions that, once passed, could lead to a more fulfilling life. These sort of social limitations are part of a general conflict between citizenship and capitalism (Marshall and Bottomore 38). Furthermore, by meeting people outside of her tourist, upper class English social set while in Italy, Lucy recognizes that "social barriers were irremoveable, doubtless, but not particularly high. You jump over them…Italy was offering her the most priceless of all possessions -- her own soul" (Forster). This passage is critical. It demonstrates the fact that once Lucy was able to transcend the conventional social boundaries that she had encountered all her life by going to Italy, she is able to gain a degree of autonomy in her soul, in the sort of vivacity which enables people to feel the extremity of life, and to revel in its glory. Pushing past social barriers helps Lucy to free her soul.
Another pivotal means by which Lucy is actually able to gain control over her own soul and live the sort of life that is full and rich is by falling in love. Forster was a known homosexual (Furbank 3); perhaps some of the sensitivity in which he portrays this aspect of Lucy's life is attributed to this fact. As the preceding paragraph indicates, Lucy's ability to love, transgress social distinctions, and assert her freedom are far from mutually exclusive. On the contrary, there is an innate connection between these three facets of her trip to Italy and their ramifications upon the realizing of her very soul. Lucy comes to know the emotions which are associated with love through her many experiences with George Emerson. Emerson is the one who first teaches to feel the joy of passion in a romantic sense -- which operates as one of the "emotional centers" (Sullivan 217) of the novel -- when he kissers her. The subsequent quotation readily indicates this fact.
He saw radiant joy in her face, he saw the flowers beat against her dress in blue waves. The bushes above them closed. He stepped quickly forward and kissed her. Before she could speak, almost before she could feel,
a voice called, "Lucy!...The silence of life had been broken by Miss Bartlett, who stood brown against the view (Forster).
This passage is demonstrative of the sort of awakening that Lucy experiences while in Italy, which helps to stimulate her soul. The connotations of love in the preceding quotation are apparent -- the "joy" in Lucy's face, the impetuousness of the young man's kiss all suggest a headstrong passion that Lucy had never previously felt for a man. Still, it is interesting to note the other simultaneous nature in which Lucy encounters the limitations of social distinctions and independence in this passage as well. While she and George are immersed in a radiant blue, she is not allowed to enjoy the kiss for long because her cousin, Charlotte, has witnessed it and is calling Lucy away from her desire. This fact is not only a transgression on Lucy's personal liberty, but also alludes to the restrictions of social conventions in which young women rarely kissed men, and certainly not those who were considered commoners. Nonetheless, this passage illustrates the type of love that Lucy will experience that will help to stir her soul awake, which is demonstrated by the novel's ending in which Lucy and George are on their knees, "in an attitude of worship" (Regis 99).
Perhaps the ultimate way in which Lucy is able to highlight the newfound sense of independence that she fostered while in Italy is in the termination of her marriage proposal with Mr. Vyse. This sort of independence is similar to that which Stella asserts when she finally returns to Pip in Great Expectations (Dickens). In several ways (including the spelling of his name, which is a variation on word vice which connotes both a bad habit as well as the stubborn restrictions of the device that grips hard) Mr. Vyse represents the sort of reserved, upper class social conventions that have continually repressed Lucy's freedom. Additionally, now that she is engaged to marry him after returning from Italy, Vyse will be able to literally repress Lucy by legally having control over her. The fact that Lucy is able to break her engagement to such a man attests to the sort of independence that is necessary for one who is able to fully and deeply live. Additionally, the way she does so, in a manner that is both abrupt and convincing, indicates how she is now relishing in her new independence. In a brief moment, "The scales fell from Lucy's eyes. How had she stood Cecil for a moment? He was absolutely intolerable, and the same evening she broke off her engagement" (Forster). One of the most important things about the way Lucy breaks off her engagement is the fact that her decision to do so stems from Cecil's refusal to play a game of tennis with some of her friends. This fact alludes to the spontaneity and the immediate assertion of Lucy's will -- which is perhaps proof that she is now enjoying a sense of liberty. However, the author's diction in this passage is important as well. She not only wants to liberate herself from the controlling influence of Mr. Vyse, but actually dislikes him for restricting her in the first place, which is why she suddenly thinks him "intolerable." Part of her ability to exercise her independence is attributed to her experience in Italy. Doing so enables her to liberate her soul and to do things as she likes to do them, not as others do, which is a powerful way in which she fully forms her own identity and comes to live life on her own terms with the "passionate awakenings" (Wagner 275) she eventually shares with George.
Although much of what Lucy learned about love and its intoxicating effect on her was gained from her interactions with George, there are other ways in which she learns about it as well. Part of the desire that she feels for George spawns from witnessing lovers expressing their feelings for one another while she is in Italy. For instance, there is an occasion in which Lucy is accompanied by Mr. Eager and Mr. Emerson on a drive. The driver is accompanied by his lover, and makes quite a display of kissing and physically expressing affection to her in the process of driving. It is extremely significant, then, that Mr. Emerson defends the young couple while others (specifically Mr. Eager) disparages them for their display of public affection. After the latter finally succeeds in separating the pair and claims victory, Mr. Emerson…
Sources Used in Documents:
Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. 3 vols. Chapman & Hall, 1861. Web. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1400/1400-h/1400-h.htm
Fillion, Michelle. Edwardian Perspectives on Nineteenth Century Music in E.M. Forster's A Room With A View. 19th Century Music. 25(2-3), 266-295. 2001.
Forster, E.M. Where Angels Fear to Tread. William Blackwood and Sons, 1905. Web. http://www.fullbooks.com/Where-Angels-Fear-to-Tread1.html
Forster, E.M. A Room With A View. Cutchogue: Buccaneet Books, 1976. Web. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2641/2641-h/2641-h.htm
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