Joshua's Reviews > A Room with a View

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
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Apr 17, 12

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Read from November 26 to December 03, 2010, read count: 1

I like the story he's crafted and the characters he's populated it with, but his writing leaves something to be desired at times. Some brilliance does shine through though. Through dialogue mostly. A wonderful example of this is this quote by George Emerson: "It is Fate that I am here. But you can call it Italy if it makes you less unhappy." I love that quote. Another highlight is the conversation between Cecil and Lucy wherein Cecil explains that when he thinks of her he thinks of a view, and when she thinks of him, she thinks of a room--a room without a view. It's also said later that there are two types of men in the world: those who remember views and those who don't.

This room and view comparison is, in my opinion, a metaphor for two types of people. The first being people who are closed off within society, with no access to the aesthetic life. The view is that aesthetic life, but it is also the future--a wide open expanse with limitless possibilities. You'll find none of that back in the room. And so, it is a conflict between the past and the future. Which is interesting, considering the title: A Room with a View. Obviously, this is a combination of both the past and the future. The societal safety of an enclosed room with the aesthetic freedom of a view.

There is another aspect of the room and view comparison. It is stated at a certain point that Lucy says to Cecil, "I won't be stifled, not by the most glorious music, for people are more glorious, and you hide them from me." This is easily a call-back to the notion that Cecil is a room without a view, and he would bring Lucy into the room if she would let him. He would surround her with beautiful things--books, art, music--but he would keep her from people. People are the one thing Cecil cannot stand. He grows tired of every person he meets in the book. Forster isn't saying we shouldn't surround ourselves with these beautiful things, but we should never remove people--the view--because people are the most beautiful things. (As a misanthrope, I'm a little inclined to disagree, but I'm just stating what I think Forster was saying in the book.)

George Emerson seems to embody this notion. His father is obviously a radical and a very strange man. George takes after him somewhat, though he is different in many aspects. He's described as "ill-bred" and that he "didn't do," but he is easily the most likable character and obviously has better morals and understanding than the well-bred Cecil, who finds amusement in putting everyone down, so long as they hold nothing for him to gain. George seems like what one would get from a cross between a country squire and a liberal-minded aristocrat: he is philosophical and gentlemanly, but he'll kiss the girl he loves regardless of her fiance being present not a minute earlier, because he "loves passionately."

I think this is what Forster was hoping for the future gentleman to be like. Free of many Victorian restrains, replacing them with true morals and true philosophy rather than hypocrisy and regurgitated knowledge. (I must point out that I do not hold the Victorian lifestyle to be nearly as bad as many of Edwardians and Modernists did, but that's neither here nor there.) If Forster had understood the Medieval mind better, he would've called George medieval rather than that cold and cynical Cecil.

Or maybe I'm over-analyzing the whole damned thing, and it's just about a girl growing up and falling in love.
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Quotes Joshua Liked

E.M. Forster
“When I think of what life is, and how seldom love is answered by love; it is one of the moments for which the world was made.”
E.M. Forster, A Room with a View


Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Robert I think it's about a girl growing up and falling in love as well.


Capsguy I think it`s about a girl growing up and falling in love as well, and everything else is secondary.


Joshua Of course, it's impossible to say which came first, the story or the message. Forster is a bit heavy handed in his message in this, and the story is a bit--well, rather than disparage it, let's say "tried and true," so that kind of makes me think Forster had a message in mind and wrote a story to convey that. Again, though, it's impossible to say with any certainty.


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