Lucy Honeychurch: Motifs, Themes, Biography, Plot

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Last Updated: 20 Apr 2022
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“A Room with a View”, by Edward Morgan Forster, presents the story of Lucy Honeychurch, a young woman belonging to English high society. Forster places this young maiden in a state of conflict between the snobbery of her class: the “suitable and traditional” views and advice offered by various family members and friends, and her true heart’s desire. This conflict “forces” Lucy Honeychurch to choose between convention and passion and throws her into a state of internal struggle, as she must sift through the elements of her social conditioning and discern them from her true emotions and desires [Ford].

Forster develops and utilizes Lucy’s internal struggle as a means of transforming her from a pretty young woman, to a subtle heroine. Lucy Honeychurch is introduced to the reader as a somewhat pretty young woman, obviously ignorant to the ways of the world, who is being chaperoned by her cousin, Charlotte Bartlett, while vacationing in Italy. Numerous conversations over matters of dress, the acceptability of various pieces of furniture, and other vacations, suggest the snobbish nature of both Lucy and Charlotte.

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In fact, matters of convention encompass Lucy’s life until George Emerson’s “caddish,’ yet passionate, display of affection takes over. Lucy and Charlotte are both very alike because they hold true the values of upper class English society. Lucy constantly struggles with how she is supposed to act, think, or even associate herself with: most conflictingly George Emerson, a railroad worker of the lower class (Ford). Their union is forbidden by Miss Bartlett by telling Lucy that he is a socialist, that she shouldn’t associate herself with him and just overall patronizing George excessively.

Charlotte and Lucy also share the same renouncement of words when they are talking to people to seem more polite. At the beginning of the novel, Lucy is feebly trying to fit in with the members of the upper class by living by certain class values and rules of propriety but they all don’t form her with any opinion or route of action. By the end of the novel, she has formed her own thoughts, opinions, and actions and takes full control of her fate and breaks it off with Cecil to marry George, her true love.

Lucy also encounters muddles, as pointed out by Mr. Emerson, which she realizes and fixes by the end of the novel. She wasn’t following her own heart and thoughts, but making decisions based on the wants of her social class, not her own. Lucy Honeychurch makes a dramatic transformation throughout the novel form a sweet, naive heroine to a strong, independent woman (Schwarz). In the novel the best representation of class snobbery is Miss Charlotte Bartlett, Lucy’s chaperon in her travels to Italy and Greece.

Not only is Miss Bartlett unimaginative and patronizing to the Emerson’s but she is the hindrance to Lucy’s true happiness; being with George Emerson. Lucy is at first naive and dependent on others views for her own at the beginning of the novel. In the opening scene, Lucy and Miss Bartlett meet the Emerson’s who offer them a room with a view. In the text; Forster gives us insight into Miss Bartlett: “Miss Bartlett, though skilled in the delicacies of conversation, was powerless in the presence of brutality. It was impossible to snub any one so gross.

Her face reddened with displeasure. She looked around as not to say, "Are you all like this? "(Forster 11). And two little old ladies, who were sitting further up the table, with shawls hanging over the backs of the chairs, looked back, clearly indicating "We are not; we are genteel"(11). "Eat your dinner, dear, she said to Lucy, and began to” toy again with the meat that she had once censured. ”(6). Lucy replies in this manner to the apparent indifference between Miss Charlotte and the Emersons: “Lucy mumbled that those seemed very odd people opposite” (6).

Furthermore, during the dinner conversation at the pension Miss Bartlett Commands Lucy To: "Lucy, dearest, let Mr. Beebe eats his dinner. "(7). This is the first instance of Miss Bartlett’s overbearing dominance of Lucy’s actions, Thoughts, and decisions. Finally, Mrs. Bartlett realizes her obtrusive manner toward Lucy at the end of their trip to Italy and confesses to Lucy, “I shall never forgive myself. ”(89). Lucy then starts to truly find herself when Miss Bartlett starts letting Lucy become independent and pursue her own interests; letting her do what she wants; and think what she wants to think.

But class snobbery is apparent all the way throughout the novel particularly by the provincial patronizing of the lower class repeatedly in a multitude of situations. Forster was born into an Anglo-Irish and Welsh middle-class family at 6 Melcombe Place, Dorset Square, London NW1, in a building that no longer exists. He was the only child of Edward Morgan Llewellyn Forster and Alice Clara "Lily". His father, an architect, died of tuberculosis on 30 October, 1880. Among Forster's ancestors were members of the Clapham Sect. He inherited a lot of money from his paternal great-aunt

Marianne Thornton (daughter of the abolitionist Henry Thornton), who died on 5 November, 1887”(Mcdowell). The money was enough to live on and enabled him to become a writer. Young Edward was raised by his mother, aunts, and governesses. He started writing stories at the young age of six at the Turnbridge high school in Kent County. Then later he started to study philosophy, and literature at Kings College in Cambridge. Then he joined a group called the Cambridge Apostles, devoted to protecting homosexuality and theology of the age.

Forster began to become enthralled by the surrounding WWI and the beautiful, aspiring landscape of Europe (McDowell). He drew inspiration for his novel A Room with a View. When he traveled to Italy, Greece, And Rome. Forester would develop a deep love of Mediterranean culture he would grow to love and write about. Forster then traveled to Alexandria, Egypt where he met his first true love, Mohammed el Adia. He became well acquainted with the conflict between the British Taj and the Indian Independence Movement; from which stemmed an award winning book, A Passage to India (Britannica).

The author’s tone throughout the novel, A Room with a View is: satirical, humanistic, and very particular in the conflict between the upper class and the lower class. Forster based his book around the passion of Lucy Honeychurch, the main character, and the internal conflict between Lucy and her decisions; in relation to the morals and values of her social class. It reflects snobbish British upper class during this time period and their effrontery to delegate mainstream tourists and Italians below themselves.

Forester’s satirical views is portrayed in the title of his chapters where 16-19 are entitled “Lucy Lies” to” blank” and his chapter titles actually tell the big events of each chapter, in sharp contrast to novels of other eras which used titles to just foreshadow the possible. The title, A Room with a View is portrayed throughout the novel by the relationship between Cecil and Lucy Honeychurch. Lucy views Cecil as a room with no view and in retrospect; Cecil views Lucy as a view without a room (Mcdowell). Devote Love and compassion along with the belief of Georges belief in fate is what drives the plot of the story.

Lucy can’t help feel compassion in love with George who sweeps her off her feet time and time again. While, George believes strongly in fate proving arduously stubborn throughout the whole novel, ultimately uniting Lucy and George in the end. An example of both the two main Components of the novel, A Room With A View: class snobbery and the independent transformation of Lucy Honeychurch is when Lucy experiences thinking for her own self and keeping her own secrets making her feel lonely (Literature Notebook). “After Mr. Eager leaves, Lucy expresses exasperation at the thought of the drive.

They discuss the problems of the drive; for one, Miss Lavish has been invited by Mr. Beebe, and Mr. Eager does not like Miss Lavish. So Charlotte resolves that the two men will go with Lucy in the first carriage while Miss Lavish and Charlotte follow in the second carriage (Forster 120). They pick up their mail at the bureau; Lucy has letters from home. Mrs. Vyse, a friend of the family, is in Rome with her son. Lucy suggests going to Rome the next day, but Charlotte reminds Lucy of the country drive, and the two women laugh at Lucy's suggestions. At this point in the novel is the apex where Lucy thus changed by the secret of the murder of the Italian man, feels a new perspective on life, that of her own opinions and thoughts.

The concealment of the murder thus drives Lucy toward the transformation of a more independent character. When Mr. Eager rolls onto more class anxiety or class snobbery of passing a rumor about Mr. Emerson murdering his wife, then Lucy takes a stand and defends the Emersons saying that they are nice people who would never do anything of that sort. This is a monumental change in the novel of Lucy forming her own opinions and developing into a strong woman.

Forester outlines and enhances the concussive idea of fate, and the background elements that enhance the drama. Before the carriage ride it’s sunny and hot outside; but after when the story reaches the pinnacle and Lucy begins to display her independence and becomes stronger as the thunder storm develops. Forester is using the mood and background of the book to perpetuate the transformation of Lucy Honeychurch. The main characters transformation form delightful to strong and bold matches the presentiment of the mood while riding toward Windy Corner.

George Emerson strikes up an argument with Mr. Beebe about what life is based on: fate or coincidence? George takes a standpoint that fate is the controlling influence in life which is portrayed by Forester in the way that George and Lucy seem to magically run into each other after Lucy is told by Miss Bartlett to not associate with the Emerson’s because they are “Evil. ” This first instance is when Lucy comes across two Italians fighting when she is returning from touring the gift shops and is horrified to see an Italian man stabbed in the back over a debt of five schillings (Literature Notebook).

She faints and when she wakes up she sees George who caught her when she fainted. Lucy immediately is startled at George being so close to her and makes a frantic escape for home. The second instance of fate bringing Lucy and George together is when Lucy encounters the Emerson’s at the Church. The Emerson’s give Lucy a nice lesson on medieval art and give her some interesting views on life to think about. “The thing about the universe is that it doesn’t fit,” remarks George which portrays his deep thought, sensitivity, and intelligence (Forster 25).

A third instance is when the Italian clergyman leads Lucy to George when they are on the carriage ride to see the beautiful homes and landscape of the countryside. Instead of leading Lucy to Miss Bartlett, like she requested in Italian, He leads her to George Emerson in the field of violet terraces. George turns and sees her and immediately kisses her, caught up in the beauty of the moment. The final instance is when Cecil, Lucy’s supposed suitor, invites the Emerson’s over to the garden party to absolve Lucy’s snobbishness by introducing perspectives of the lower class.

Really, Cecil ends up ruining his own planned marriage with Lucy and foils his own happiness (Schwartz). What Forster wants to portray in this novel, is the personalities and opinions of his characters and how your social background can both influence you positively and negatively. He incorporates so many different elements and personas into the story that it leaves the reader to be saturated the feelings and emotions of the characters very strongly. You get a strong feeling of the class snobbery, transformation of Lucy Honeychurch, influence of fate, and a real insight into the opinions of Lucy Honeychurch.

Forester brings all of these elements and ties it together with the ongoing transformation of Lucy Honey church form a weak, naive woman to a sophisticated, strong woman. The intense influence of Miss Bartlett finally is broken when Lucy begins to go and explore Italy for herself and starts to have her own thoughts and secrets. Lucy Honeychurch, at first, finds herself constrained by the claustrophic influence of her Guardians, especially Miss Bartlett. However, Lucy takes control of her own fate and finds love with George Emerson, who views her as a “Room with A View.

In Contrast, Cecil views Lucy as a View without a room, or just something to have and look at; like a piece of art (Ford). He tried to manipulate herself and work into a masterpiece, trying to contort her imperfections while George respected her thoughts and opinions and loved her for who she was. Not to mention Cecil’s struggle with any intimacy whatsoever toward Lucy, even a kiss. So, in conclusion Forster incorporates the oblivion of class control over Lucy Honeychurch and the prevalence of Lucy transforming into an independent woman to control her own fate and end up with George Emerson, despite her class opinion of him.

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Lucy Honeychurch: Motifs, Themes, Biography, Plot. (2017, Mar 24). Retrieved from

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