A Room with a View

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Mr. Emerson Character Analysis

George’s father, Mr. Emerson is an intelligent, thoughtful man who comes from a somewhat lower-class background. He has little regard for social niceties and perhaps lacks tact, but he means well and is a kind person. He encourages George to trust in love and follow his heart, not realizing that George is in love with Lucy. When he learns that George has kissed Lucy twice, he apologizes to her, but once he realizes that Lucy also has feelings for George he is a major force in urging and persuading Lucy to follow her own heart and be with George.

Mr. Emerson Quotes in A Room with a View

The A Room with a View quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Emerson or refer to Mr. Emerson. 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 1 Quotes

I think he would not take advantage of your acceptance, nor expect you to show gratitude. He has the merit—if it is one—of saying exactly what he means. He has rooms he does not value, and he thinks you would value them. He no more thought of putting you under an obligation than he thought of being polite. It is so difficult—at least, I find it difficult—to understand people who speak the truth.

Related Characters: Mr. Beebe (speaker), Lucy Honeychurch, Charlotte Bartlett, Mr. Emerson
Related Symbols: Indoors, Outdoors and Views
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the Emerson family--George and Mr. Emerson--has offered to do a favor for the far wealthier and more well-to-do group of Lucy and Charlotte. The Emersons overhear Lucy and Charlotte moaning about how their rooms don't have a nice view; they offer to exchange rooms with the two women, an offer that's appalling to both Lucy and Charlotte. Neither woman wants to be in a lower-class man's debt. But as Mr. Beebe, a friendly reverend, explains, the Emersons aren't trying to gain a favor for themselves--they're just trying to be nice.

Lucy and Charlotte are so sheltered and "well-mannered" that they look a gift-horse in the mouth--they wonder why on earth two strangers are offering them anything, and conclude that the strangers must have poor intentions. Beebe has to explain what, from a 21st reader's perspective, seems perfectly clear: the Emersons are just trying to be friendly. Manners and customs act like a veil between Lucy and the Emersons, obscuring the natural goodness of all the characters.

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About old Mr. Emerson—I hardly know. No, he is not tactful; yet, have you ever noticed that there are people who do things which are most indelicate, and yet at the same time—beautiful?

Related Characters: Lucy Honeychurch (speaker), Mr. Emerson
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Lucy thinks about the offer she's received from the Emerson family. Lucy is too reserved to accept the offer upfront, and yet she's strangely charmed by the fact that the Emersons made it in the first place: she's so used to people who refuse to speak their minds (out of supposed politeness) that she can scarcely believe that the Emersons would voice their intentions so clearly.

The passage could be considered a satire of the severity and strictness of late-Victorian / Edwardian manners, but it's also meant to signal that Lucy stands somewhat apart from her culture. Where others would be irritated by the Emersons' frankness, Lucy now starts to like the Emersons, and recognizes that they're just good people, even if they're not speaking the same "language."

Chapter 2 Quotes

I think that you are repeating what you have heard older people say. You are pretending to be touchy; but you are not really. Stop being so tiresome, and tell me instead what part of the church you want to see. To take you to it will be a real pleasure.

Related Characters: Mr. Emerson (speaker), Lucy Honeychurch
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Lucy runs into her old "benefactors," the Emersons. The Emersons are looking around the same church that Lucy's exploring, and when a reverend makes a misstatement about Giotto, Mr. Emerson, the elder of the two, calls the reverend out for his error. Lucy, shocked that Emerson could have been so tactless, tells Emerson that he should have been more polite. Emerson fires back that politeness itself is overrated--why not say what's on one's mind?

Emerson's monologue in the passage is a great example of how tact can be overrated. Emerson is clearly a kind, likable person, even if his manners are sometimes lacking (he offers to show Lucy around the church, which is certainly very helpful). Emerson's behavior could be said to stand for Forster's sometimes romanticized view of the lower classes: they lack specific social training, but their overall "spirit" is good.

Chapter 3 Quotes

"Mr. Beebe—old Mr. Emerson, is he nice or not nice? I do so want to know."

Mr. Beebe laughed and suggested that she should settle the question for herself.

Related Characters: Lucy Honeychurch (speaker), Mr. Emerson, Mr. Beebe
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Lucy asks Mr. Beebe for his opinion of the Emerson family. Lucy is interested in the Emersons, especially after spending time with them in the churches of Italy. And yet she's not really confident enough in her own opinion to conclude that the Emersons are either "nice or not nice" (additionally, the fact that she divides all of humanity into two vacuous categories, nice and not nice, suggests her emotional immaturity).

Mr. Beebe has already claimed that he doesn't like the Emersons because of their socialist views: Beebe is a more traditional English figure, a friendly reverend who has duties to his congregation--as a result, he distrusts political radicals. But Beebe is also friendly and open-minded to encourage Lucy to figure things out for herself: he wants her to grow into a mature woman, rather than relying on authority figures.

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.

Fifty miles of Spring, and we've come up to admire them. Do you suppose there's any difference between Spring in nature and Spring in man? But there we go, praising the one and condemning the other as improper, ashamed that the same work eternally through both.

Related Characters: Mr. Emerson (speaker)
Related Symbols: Indoors, Outdoors and Views
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:

Mr. Emerson, upset with Mr. Eager's prudishness concerning the romantic carriage driver, mutters about the universality of human freedom. He notices the beautiful spring weather, and the natural beauty that spring creates. He wonders aloud why human beings try to censor the "spring" of the soul, even as they celebrate the literal spring of nature.

Mr. Emerson's analogy is interesting because it suggests that liberty--sexual, moral, etc.--in an inevitable, even cyclical, part of the human experience. There's no virtue in trying to repress what is natural and god-given--and yet that's exactly what the late Victorian society symbolized by Mr. Eager has done.

Chapter 19 Quotes

"I taught him," he quavered, "to trust in love. I said: 'When love comes, that is reality.' I said: 'Passion does not blind. No. Passion is sanity, and the woman you love, she is the only person you will ever really understand.'"

Related Characters: Mr. Emerson (speaker), George Emerson
Page Number: 183
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Mr. Emerson talks to Lucy Honeychurch about her upcoming engagement to Cecil, and Lucy doesn't bother to correct him. Mistakenly certain that Lucy is engaged to Cecil, and therefore will never end up with George, Emerson mourns that he told his son to trust in his love for other people. Emerson feels that by raising George to be open and honest about his feelings, he encouraged George to fall for people of all kinds--including Lucy, a woman far outside George's class.

The passage is a great reminder of the social and psychological differences between George's family and Lucy's. George--perhaps because of his lower class situation, it's suggested--has been raised to believe in the importance of honesty and sincerity. Lucy has been trained to be proper and reserved about her feelings--to the point where she can't even tell Mr. Emerson that she's no longer engaged to Cecil.

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Mr. Emerson Character Timeline in A Room with a View

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Emerson appears in A Room with a View. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Society, Manners, and Changing Social Norms Theme Icon
...a view, and are interrupted by a man at another dinner table. The man, named Mr. Emerson , says that he and his son George are willing to exchange their rooms (which... (full context)
Society, Manners, and Changing Social Norms Theme Icon
Sexism and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Education and Independence Theme Icon
...Lucy leave dinner and talk with Mr. Beebe in another room. Charlotte asks about the Emersons, and says that she could not put Lucy and herself under any obligation to them... (full context)
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Charlotte worries that she was rude in rejecting the Emersons’ offer and asked Mr. Beebe if she should apologize, but he says she doesn’t need... (full context)
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Education and Independence Theme Icon
Beauty Theme Icon
Slightly defending Mr. Emerson ’s kind offer, Lucy agrees that he is not tactful but asks, “yet, have you... (full context)
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Sexism and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Lucy and Charlotte move into the Emersons’ rooms, and Charlotte explains to Lucy that she has taken the room George was in,... (full context)
Chapter 2
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...they finally find themselves at the church of Santa Croce. There, they happen to see Mr. Emerson and his son George. (full context)
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Education and Independence Theme Icon
Beauty Theme Icon
...trip over the feet of a statue of a bishop, and goes to help him. Mr. Emerson also goes to the boy and says, “a baby hurt, cold, and frightened! But what... (full context)
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Education and Independence Theme Icon
An Italian woman comes and helps the boy up. Mr. Emerson tries to talk to her, but she does not speak English. Lucy explains to Mr.... (full context)
Society, Manners, and Changing Social Norms Theme Icon
Honesty Theme Icon
...church, a reverend is showing a congregation the church, and lectures about the Giotto frescoes. Mr. Emerson disagrees with what the reverend is saying, and loudly corrects him. The reverend awkwardly says... (full context)
Society, Manners, and Changing Social Norms Theme Icon
Education and Independence Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...of grayness, of tragedy that might only find solution in the night.” Lucy and the Emersons walk around the church, and Mr. Emerson tells Lucy that George is very unhappy. He... (full context)
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Education and Independence Theme Icon
...spots Charlotte in a nave of the church. Lucy joins her cousin and thanks the Emersons for “a delightful morning.” (full context)
Chapter 3
Society, Manners, and Changing Social Norms Theme Icon
Sexism and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
...Miss Lavish, but admits that she finds her a bit “unwomanly,” and shares an anecdote: Mr. Emerson had once warned a woman in the Pension about drinking too much lemonade because of... (full context)
Society, Manners, and Changing Social Norms Theme Icon
Sexism and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Education and Independence Theme Icon
...to describe how Miss Lavish later invited her to go into the smoking-room with the Emersons, which she regarded as “an unsuitable invitation.” Miss Lavish then went and spent time alone... (full context)
Chapter 5
Society, Manners, and Changing Social Norms Theme Icon
Education and Independence Theme Icon
...Mr. Eager and Miss Lavish for some reason. Charlotte and Mr. Eager talk about the Emersons, and Mr. Eager says that Mr. Emerson has written for the “Socialistic Press.” Mr. Eager... (full context)
Society, Manners, and Changing Social Norms Theme Icon
...Mr. Emerson murdered his wife (though he supplies no proof). He asks Lucy if the Emersons had said bad things about him when they were with her in Santa Croce, and... (full context)
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Education and Independence Theme Icon
...of Florence. As Lucy thinks over the murder she saw and the murder accusation against Mr. Emerson , Charlotte continues to figure out seating arrangements for the upcoming drive. (full context)
Chapter 6
Society, Manners, and Changing Social Norms Theme Icon
...Italians to mythological figures. In the carriage are Mr. Beebe, Mr. Eager, Miss Lavish, the Emersons, Lucy, and Charlotte. Mr. Beebe had invited the Emersons along without asking Mr. Eager first,... (full context)
Society, Manners, and Changing Social Norms Theme Icon
...stops the carriage and tells the driver that his female friend will have to leave. Mr. Emerson , though, says that “the lovers must on no account be separated.” Mr. Eager speaks... (full context)
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Love Theme Icon
Beauty Theme Icon
Mr. Emerson talks with Miss Lavish and regrets the way that Mr. Eager treated the young driver,... (full context)
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Charlotte tells Miss Lavish that she asked Mr. Emerson what his profession was, and he answered “the railway,” which she found “such a dreadful... (full context)
Chapter 7
Honesty Theme Icon
Education and Independence Theme Icon
Worried, Mr. Emerson asks Mr. Eager to ask the driver where George is. Charlotte, meanwhile, slips some money... (full context)
Chapter 9
Society, Manners, and Changing Social Norms Theme Icon
Sexism and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Honesty Theme Icon
...Mr. Eager claimed someone at the Pension Bertolini had murdered his wife. She can’t remember Mr. Emerson ’s name, and thinks the accused was a Mr. Harris. She says that she absolutely... (full context)
Chapter 10
Society, Manners, and Changing Social Norms Theme Icon
Honesty Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Lucy says that these Emersons are probably not the same ones as were in Florence, and Mr. Beebe agrees. He... (full context)
Chapter 11
Honesty Theme Icon
Education and Independence Theme Icon
...mother about the kiss, and will keep that promise. She reiterates that she thinks the Emersons are “respectable people,” and says that she will not complain about them. Lucy is unsure... (full context)
Chapter 12
Society, Manners, and Changing Social Norms Theme Icon
Sexism and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Beauty Theme Icon
Mr. Emerson , just entering the room, says that men and women will be equal, and says... (full context)
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Freddy tells Mr. Emerson that he will call on him later (a long-standing social tradition of visiting someone and... (full context)
Chapter 15
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...church, and insists that Minnie come. After church, Mrs. Honeychurch and Lucy stop by the Emersons’ home. Mr. Emerson meets Mrs. Honeychurch and tells her that he likes his new home,... (full context)
Chapter 19
Honesty Theme Icon
Education and Independence Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...while Charlotte and Mrs. Honeychurch go into the church. There, Lucy is surprised to find Mr. Emerson , who immediately apologizes on behalf of George. (George has apparently told his father about... (full context)
Society, Manners, and Changing Social Norms Theme Icon
Honesty Theme Icon
...a sort of depression, just as his mother was when George was a baby. The Emersons had not baptized George, and then George got typhoid. Mr. Eager convinced Mrs. Emerson that... (full context)
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Lucy feels bad and tells Mr. Emerson that he doesn’t have to leave his home, since she is going to Greece. But... (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... (full context)
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Honesty Theme Icon
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Beauty Theme Icon
...Mr. Beebe tells Lucy to marry George, saying, “he will do admirably.” Lucy looks to Mr. Emerson and thinks that his face is “the face of a saint who understood.” Mr. Emerson... (full context)