A Room with a View

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Cecil Vyse Character Analysis

A family friend of the Honeychurches, with whom Lucy and Charlotte stay in Rome. Cecil proposes to Lucy twice unsuccessfully in Italy, and then proposes a third time at Windy Corner, where Lucy finally accepts. Lucy gradually convinces herself that she loves Cecil, despite his snobbery and rude attitude toward Lucy’s family and the country society around her home. Cecil is intelligent but doesn’t have the same sensibility for beauty that George and Lucy share. He is somewhat of a chauvinist and takes a patronizing attitude toward Lucy and other women, as George complains to Lucy and as Lucy herself tells Cecil when she leaves him. When Lucy leaves Cecil and explains the reasons why, he seems at first astonished and then accepting, and seems at least slightly changed.

Cecil Vyse Quotes in A Room with a View

The A Room with a View quotes below are all either spoken by Cecil Vyse or refer to Cecil Vyse. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Society, Manners, and Changing Social Norms Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of A Room with a View published in 2000.
Chapter 9 Quotes

No, Lucy, he stands for all that is bad in country life. In London he would keep his place. He would belong to a brainless club, and his wife would give brainless dinner parties. But down here he acts the little god with his gentility, and his patronage, and his sham aesthetics, and every one—even your mother—is taken in.

Related Characters: Cecil Vyse (speaker), Lucy Honeychurch, Sir Harry Otway
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Cecil tells Lucy that he finds Sir Harry Otway to be insufferable. Harry, Cecil argues, has horrible taste: he's loud and aggressive, and doesn't know how to tell beauty from ugliness. Cecil also seems to resent that everybody else like Harry, even Lucy's mother, Miss Honeychurch.

The passage is significant because it shows Cecil to be a pretentious and rather hypocritical person. Cecil is an upper-class character, too--he just doesn't have as much land or property as Sir Harry. Cecil is a snobbish aesthete, who looks down on people because they don't have any taste. Cecil's mistake, of course, is to ignore the fact that taste is largely a product of one's class, as well. Cecil would probably look down on most of the working-class families of England, as well as Sir Harry--he'd continue sneering at their bad taste.

On a subtler level, Forster here also critiques the very idea of "taste." As elsewhere in the novel, he contrasts having good taste--that is, knowing what is "supposed" to be beautiful--versus really engaging with beauty on an emotional or spiritual level. Cecil knows how to appreciate art and beauty in theory, but he never really connects with or is moved by it.

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"I had got an idea—I dare say wrongly—that you feel more at home with me in a room."
"A room?" she echoed, hopelessly bewildered.
"Yes. Or, at the most, in a garden, or on a road. Never in the real country like this."
"Oh, Cecil, whatever do you mean? I have never felt anything of the sort. You talk as if I was a kind of poetess sort of person."
"I don't know that you aren't. I connect you with a view—a certain type of view. Why shouldn't you connect me with a room?"
She reflected a moment, and then said, laughing:
"Do you know that you're right? I do. I must be a poetess after all. When I think of you it's always as in a room. How funny!"
To her surprise, he seemed annoyed.
"A drawing-room, pray? With no view?"
"Yes, with no view, I fancy. Why not?"
"I'd rather," he said reproachfully, "that connected me with the open air."

Related Characters: Lucy Honeychurch (speaker), Cecil Vyse (speaker)
Related Symbols: Indoors, Outdoors and Views
Page Number: 99
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Cecil shows that he's a good observer, if not necessarily a good man. He correctly recognizes that Lucy, whom he loves, thinks of him as existing in a closed room without a view. Cecil further deduces that Lucy thinks of him as being in a closed room because they considers him stuffy, unimaginative, and generally repressive.

Cecil's existence stands apart from that of the Emerson family. Cecil is an aesthete, and his arrogant emphasis on style and taste are purely self-referential: he's more interested in his own tastes and styles than he is in the world itself. Other characters in the novel, such as the Emersons, are more open and free in their thinking, reflecting their genuine love and fascination with the world (and thus suggesting they have a "connection with the open air"). Lucy strives to be free and unrepressed, and so she's less attracted to Cecil than Cecil would like.

Chapter 14 Quotes

It is obvious enough for the reader to conclude, "She loves young Emerson." A reader in Lucy's place would not find it obvious. Life is easy to chronicle, but bewildering to practice, and we welcome "nerves" or any other shibboleth that will cloak our personal desire. She loved Cecil; George made her nervous; will the reader explain to her that the phrases should have been reversed?

Related Characters: Lucy Honeychurch, George Emerson, Cecil Vyse
Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the narrator addresses a "wrinkle" in the text: why doesn't Lucy accept the obvious truth that she's in love with George Emerson? Can it be possible that Lucy is so divorced from her own feelings that she deludes herself into thinking that she's in love with Cecil, an arrogant, thoroughly unlikable man?

According to the narrator, this is exactly the case. The strange thing about repression, we've been told, is that it encourages people to lie to themselves. Lucy doesn't know how unhappy she is until she meets George Emerson: she's been so conditioned to think in class terms and mirror the politeness of her peers and elders that rebelling against her society's rules is almost impossible. Lucy prepares for a life with Cecil, not entirely aware of what a huge mistake she's making. The narrator further suggests that the function of novels like this one is to enlighten readers--to alert them to their own blindness and repression by telling them stories.

Chapter 16 Quotes

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.

Related Characters: Lucy Honeychurch, Cecil Vyse
Page Number: 157
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Lucy has just had a long conversation with George. George tells Lucy the plain truth: Cecil isn't a particularly good man, despite the fact that he and Lucy and engaged to be married. He lists all the examples of Cecil's condescending behavior towards women--if he were to marry Lucy, George argues, he'd treat Lucy like a child, never letting her make up her own mind about anything. While Lucy isn't convinced of George's argument at the time, she begins to see that George was right all along; Cecil really is a condescending, sexist fool.

To emphasize the suddenness of Lucy's epiphany, Forster makes a Biblical allusion: in the Bible, when Saul (later the Apostle Paul) embraced Christianity, his temporary blindness was instantly healed, and the "scales" fell from his eyes. In other words, Lucy feels as if she's been blind her entire life, and can only now see Cecil for what he is. The fact that it's George's speech that prompts her epiphany suggests that, deep down, Lucy may have always found Cecil a little irritating, but she put up with him because her family and her culture demanded that she do so (in other words, her culture demanded that she play the part of submissive fiancee).

Of course, the irony of this is that Lucy only escapes one man (Cecil) telling her what to do by listening to another man (George) tell her what to do. In this way, Forster perhaps subtly critiques himself, and acknowledges that although he has created an empowered female character in Lucy, he is still a man speaking through her voice.

Chapter 19 Quotes

But I cannot see why you didn't tell your friends about Cecil and be done with it. There all the time we had to sit fencing, and almost telling lies, and be seen through, too, I dare say, which is most unpleasant.

Related Characters: Mrs. Honeychurch (speaker), Lucy Honeychurch, Cecil Vyse
Page Number: 179
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Miss Honeychurch talks to her daughter about her broken engagement to Cecil. Honeychurch doesn't really understand why Lucy has broken off the engagement, but she wants she news of the broken engagement to get out anyway. Mrs. Honeychurch is, as one might expect, a master of public relations: she knows that the best way to avoid a scandal is to be open and honest about the engagement; otherwise people will assume that Mrs. Honeychurch and her family are hiding something.

Mrs. Honeychurch's stated reasons for breaking the news of the broken engagement are fascinating: she suggests the danger of "being seen" as frauds. Respectability is the basic currency of the English upper-classes, and to be deceptive or devious in anything is the easiest way to lose respectability.

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Cecil Vyse Character Timeline in A Room with a View

The timeline below shows where the character Cecil Vyse appears in A Room with a View. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8
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...writing a letter in the drawing room. They are discussing Lucy and a man named Cecil Vyse, who is about to propose to Lucy for the third time. Mrs. Honeychurch is... (full context)
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Mrs. Honeychurch is writing to Cecil’s mother—Mrs. Vyse, of the same family that Lucy visited in Rome—and comments on how she... (full context)
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Freddy tells his mother that when Cecil asked his permission for the proposal, he also asked Freddy if he thought the marriage... (full context)
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Freddy tries to discern what it is about Cecil that he dislikes, as Mrs. Honeychurch looks over her letter, in which she tells Mrs.... (full context)
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Cecil informs Mrs. Honeychurch (first in Italian, then in English) that Lucy has accepted his marriage... (full context)
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In Rome, Cecil hinted to Lucy that they should marry, and she declined. He proposed again “among the... (full context)
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Mr. Beebe arrives and tells Cecil that he has come “for tea and for gossip.” He shares the news that a... (full context)
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Mr. Beebe and Cecil talk about Lucy. Mr. Beebe says that he made a drawing in Florence, with Lucy... (full context)
Chapter 9
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A few days after the engagement, Mrs. Honeychurch takes Lucy and Cecil to a garden party, to show off the “presentable man” her daughter is marrying. At... (full context)
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Cecil tells Lucy that he thinks of an engagement as a private matter, and hates how... (full context)
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Cecil criticizes Mr. Beebe to Lucy, who then says that she dislikes a different clergyman, Mr.... (full context)
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...old lady, so very vulgar” in one of the villas, who will not move out. Cecil suggests that he “turn her out,” and rent the place, but Sir Harry says that... (full context)
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Realizing that Cecil is playing with Sir Harry, Lucy suggests that he rent the place to some gentlewomen... (full context)
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After they leave Sir Harry behind, Cecil tells Lucy that he dislikes him. He says that Sir Harry “stands for all that... (full context)
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Lucy and Cecil walk through a wooded area, and Cecil says that he thinks Lucy only imagines him... (full context)
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Cecil tells Lucy that he wants to ask her something he has never asked her before,... (full context)
Chapter 10
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The narrator describes “the society out of which Cecil proposed to rescue Lucy.” Lucy’s father had been “a prosperous local solicitor,” who built Windy... (full context)
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...“social barriers,” and that this could be a pleasant thing. Time in Italy had changed Cecil, as well, who now sees “local society” as narrow and insignificant. He seeks a better... (full context)
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...that he has heard someone else is moving into Sir Harry’s place. Freddy says that Cecil just recently told him that he has gotten someone by the name of Emerson to... (full context)
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...it’s affectation to pretend there isn’t.” Freddy says that the new tenants are friends of Cecil, and Lucy is annoyed that her own fiancé would ruin her plans to have the... (full context)
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Lucy goes inside to see Cecil, and chides him for ruining her plan about the Miss Alans. Cecil describes the Emersons... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Cecil’s plans for the Emersons to move into Sir Harry’s villa are successful. The Alans are... (full context)
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...unsure whether the secret of George kissing her is “a great thing which would destroy Cecil’s life if he discovered it,” or a “little thing which he would laugh at.” She... (full context)
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...different from the atmosphere at Windy Corner. She plays some music on the piano, and Cecil requests to hear Beethoven, but she declines and plays only Schumann. After the party, Lucy... (full context)
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Mrs. Vyse tells Cecil, “Make Lucy one of us,” and enthusiastically says that Lucy is “purging off the Honeychurch... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...enjoyed her stay in London, and Freddy says that Lucy is closer than ever to Cecil. (full context)
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Freddy tells Mr. Beebe that Cecil “is teaching Lucy Italian,” and that he is worried Lucy will become smarter than he... (full context)
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Suddenly, Mr. Beebe alerts George and Freddy that people are coming by. Mrs. Honeychurch, Cecil, and Lucy happen to be walking through the woods. They see the three men, who... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...on such on occasion, where he greeted her “with the shout of the morning star.” Cecil is bored with talking to Mrs. Butterworth, and behaves difficultly. Back at home, Mrs. Honeychurch... (full context)
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Lucy tries to defend Cecil’s haughtiness, but can’t find the right words. She feels that “two civilizations had clashed,” Cecil’s... (full context)
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...invite Charlotte, saying there is no room for her. She admits that both she and Cecil don’t like Charlotte, and calls her “tiresome.” Mrs. Honeychurch chides them both for not taking... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...to such a conclusion from an external perspective. As far as Lucy knows, she loves Cecil and is only made nervous by George. (full context)
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...plans to keep her promise. Charlotte says that it would be even more dreadful if Cecil should find out about the incident from someone else. Lucy says that there is no... (full context)
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...look after herself. Charlotte calls George a cad (a bad man), and Lucy says that Cecil told her there are two kinds of cads—conscious and subconscious. She says that George “lost... (full context)
Chapter 15
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...Honeychurch, Charlotte, and Minnie Beebe are all preparing to go to church. George, Freddy, and Cecil are not going. Lucy sees a book that Cecil has been reading, called “Under a... (full context)
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After lunch, Lucy plays the piano. Cecil requests a particular song, but she stops playing instead. Then, George walks over, and she... (full context)
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After tennis, Cecil reads aloud to George and Lucy from the novel he is reading, which he finds... (full context)
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...straight over heads.” Lucy finds this fascinating and pays more attention to George than to Cecil, who becomes frustrated. Lucy tries to make it up to him by asking him to... (full context)
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Cecil flips to a passage from the novel, in which the heroine is sitting on a... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Upset, Lucy now realizes why Charlotte encouraged her to tell Cecil about the kiss earlier and warned of Cecil finding out from someone else. Charlotte wonders... (full context)
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...George to leave Windy Corner immediately. George asks if she is really going to marry Cecil, and says that Cecil is fine with books, but doesn’t know how to handle people.... (full context)
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George goes on to say that Cecil doesn’t treat women well. For example, when they encountered George near the Sacred Lake, George... (full context)
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Lucy retorts that George is criticizing Cecil for telling her what to think, when he is essentially doing the same thing now.... (full context)
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...another set of tennis. She says that George has had to leave, so Freddy asks Cecil to play. Cecil again declines, saying that he is not an athlete and is “no... (full context)
Chapter 17
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When Lucy ends the engagement, Cecil is stunned. Lucy says they are simply too different, and Cecil says she is probably... (full context)
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Cecil is shocked and confused. For the first time in their relationship, he sees Lucy as... (full context)
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...and right.” She angrily says that she doesn’t care about “a woman’s place,” and that Cecil tries to “wrap up” her like an art object. She says resolutely, “I won’t be... (full context)
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Lucy thinks that Cecil is suggesting that she is leaving him for someone else, which upsets her. She says... (full context)
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Cecil says that the engagement couldn’t have worked, because he is “bound up in the old... (full context)
Chapter 18
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...Windy Corner “with a piece of gossip,” unaware of what has happened with Lucy and Cecil. Mr. Beebe’s gossip is that the Alans are planning a trip to Greece, and he... (full context)
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When Mr. Beebe arrives at Windy Corner, he runs into Cecil, who is just leaving. He notices that Cecil seems kinder than usual. They discuss the... (full context)
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Mr. Beebe talks with Charlotte, who is worried about gossip spreading regarding Lucy and Cecil. She says that Freddy shouldn’t even have told him about the matter, and begs Mr.... (full context)
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...the Alans. Mr. Beebe then sees Lucy playing the piano and singing a song that Cecil taught her. (full context)
Chapter 19
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...visit the Alans in London, in preparation for the Greece trip. The Alans think that Cecil and Lucy are still together, and Lucy doesn’t correct them. Afterwards, Mrs. Honeychurch says that... (full context)
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...trust in love.” He is still under the impression that Lucy is going to marry Cecil, and Lucy does not correct him. (full context)
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...says that he must go to London to take care of George. He again mentions Cecil, and speaks as if Cecil and Lucy are still engaged. Lucy evades the topic, and... (full context)
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Lucy tries to explain to Mr. Emerson that she left Cecil for her own reasons, but he tells her that she is “in a muddle,” and... (full context)
Chapter 20
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...who had not meant to help,” but nevertheless did, like Miss Lavish, Charlotte, and even Cecil. (full context)
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...Freddy and Mr. Beebe would forgive Lucy and him. He also comments that he wishes “Cecil had not turned so cynical about women.” He asks, “why will men have theories about... (full context)