A Room with a View

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Miss Lavish Character Analysis

A British woman staying at the Pension Bertolini, who somewhat arrogantly thinks that she is finding the “real” Italy in contrast to naïve tourists. She is also a novelist, and writes a novel under a pen-name that Cecil later reads. In the novel is a romantic scene that is obviously based on George and Lucy’s kiss outside of Florence, and this causes some trouble when Cecil reads this scene aloud to Lucy and George.

Miss Lavish Quotes in A Room with a View

The A Room with a View quotes below are all either spoken by Miss Lavish or refer to Miss Lavish. 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 2 Quotes

Buon giorno! Take the word of an old woman, Miss Lucy: you will never repent of a little civility to your inferiors. That is the true democracy. Though I am a real Radical as well. There, now you're shocked.

Related Characters: Miss Lavish (speaker), Lucy Honeychurch
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

Tom Wolfe coined the term "radical chic" to define well-to-do people who like to "dabble" in progressive ideas (socialism, anti-colonialism, gender equality, etc.) without ever really committing to them, mostly because they want to distinguish themselves from their stuffier peers. Miss Lavish, based on this passage, could easily qualify as an exemplar of radical chic: she's a wealthy, successful woman, but she likes to brag about being radical to her other wealthy friends. Lavish makes a big show of greeting random people in the street, but we get the sense that she does so not because of her commitment to democracy or humanism, but because she wants to distinguish herself from people like Lucy, whom she's supposed to be guiding through the city. Lavish continues to blab to Lucy as she shows her Florence. (Notice the way that Lavish calls the people she greets "inferior" without so much as a second thought--which isn't exactly "progressive" of her.)


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Chapter 6 Quotes

At this point Mr. Emerson, whom the shock of stopping had awoke, declared that the lovers must on no account be separated, and patted them on the back to signify his approval. And Miss Lavish, though unwilling to ally him, felt bound to support the cause of Bohemianism.

Related Characters: Mr. Emerson, Miss Lavish
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the Emersons, Lucy, Charlotte, Mr. Eager, and Miss Lavish are in a carriage. The carriage driver has picked up a young woman, whom he tries to kiss as he drives the carriage (causing the horses to lurch from side to side). Mr. Eager, upset with such an open display of sexuality, asks the driver to dismiss the young woman, but Mr. Emerson insists that the driver should be able to show his love for his girlfriend. Miss Lavish, who's less committed to progressivism than Emerson, but loves to seem to be progressive (or "Bohemian"), agrees.

The humorous passage illustrates some of the political and cultural differences between the English characters. Despite coming from the same country, Mr. Emerson and Mr. Eager illustrate two opposing views of how people should behave--either with freedom or with "good manners." Miss Lavish doesn't really care either way, but because romantic freedom is "hip" these days, she goes along with Mr. Emerson. Miss Lavish, the tie-breaking vote, suggests that England is moving, however slowly, in the direction of sexual frankness.

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Miss Lavish Character Timeline in A Room with a View

The timeline below shows where the character Miss Lavish appears in A Room with a View. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 15
Society, Manners, and Changing Social Norms Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...The novel is set in Florence, and before long Lucy realizes that it is actually Miss Lavish’s novel, written under a pseudonym. Cecil says that all modern books are bad, and doesn’t... (full context)
Chapter 16
Honesty Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...Lucy’s aim is “to defeat herself.” She calls for Charlotte, and then tells Charlotte about Miss Lavish’s novel. She asks Charlotte if she told Miss Lavish about the kiss, and Charlotte confesses... (full context)