A Room with a View

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Themes and Colors
Society, Manners, and Changing Social Norms Theme Icon
Sexism and Women’s Roles Theme Icon
Honesty Theme Icon
Education and Independence Theme Icon
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LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in A Room with a View, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Love Theme Icon

A Room with a View can be seen as a romance novel, revolving around the romantic plot of Lucy and her decision between George and Cecil. Through Lucy’s relationships with these two men, we see two different kinds of love. With Cecil, Lucy has a rational relationship with gradually growing affection, of which her family approves. He is from a respectable social background, and her mother is pleased at the match between Lucy and him. By contrast, Lucy’s relationship with George is confusing to her and irrational. It grows out of sudden moments of immediate attraction in ways that traditional society finds inappropriate. Whereas Cecil politely asks for Lucy’s hand in marriage three times, and asks her permission to kiss her once they are engaged, George impulsively embraces and kisses Lucy twice—once when she is already engaged to Cecil.

Lucy herself is unaware of her own feelings for George for most of the novel. She gradually convinces herself that she loves Cecil and denies any affection for George until the very end of the novel. At last, though, her true feelings come to the surface, and she realizes how she feels. Forster thus shows that one cannot force or engineer love, as Cecil and Lucy try to do. True love is more of an unintentional, irrational experience that often surprises those who feel it. Through Lucy’s experiences, the novel seems to suggest that one can try to stifle or suppress love, but never entirely get rid of it. Lucy can only ignore her true feelings for George for so long.

But, even once Lucy realizes that she does not love Cecil and starts to acknowledge her feelings for George, she doesn’t immediately pursue her love, and only ends up with George because she coincidentally (or perhaps with Charlotte’s help) runs into Mr. Emerson, who then convinces her to follow her heart. As George opines at the end of the novel, many people and things help Lucy and him end up together (including, for example, Mr. Emerson and Mr. Beebe). While Forster may be accused of sentimentality in his championing the inevitable victory of true love, he is at least realistic insofar as he shows that such love—while it may seem fated or destined to be—doesn’t simply come about by itself. George has to take the initiative to kiss Lucy, while Lucy has to take the bold step of breaking off her engagement to Cecil. It is only when George, Lucy, and other characters take deliberate action that love can triumph.

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Love ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Love appears in each chapter of A Room with a View. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Love Quotes in A Room with a View

Below you will find the important quotes in A Room with a View related to the theme of Love.
Chapter 3 Quotes

All his life he had loved to study maiden ladies; they were his specialty, and his profession had provided him with ample opportunities for the work. Girls like Lucy were charming to look at, but Mr. Beebe was, from rather profound reasons, somewhat chilly in his attitude towards the other sex, and preferred to be interested rather than enthralled.

Related Characters: Lucy Honeychurch, Mr. Beebe
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

Mr. Beebe is a shy, religious man, who takes a great liking to Lucy and her friends. Beebe seems to be very proper in his manners, and yet here, it's suggested that he has no real desire for the opposite sex: he can take an interest in their souls, and he can form friendships with them, but he can't love them. One could argue that Beebe's relative disinterest in women is a manifestation of his condescending priestly attitude, or of a virtuous adherence to his priestly vows. But it's also been suggested that Mr. Beebe, at least in this passage, is something of a self-portrait by Forster himself (who was homosexual).


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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.

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.

She did not answer. From her feet the ground sloped sharply into view, and violets ran down in rivulets and streams and cataracts, irrigating the hillside with blue, eddying round the tree stems collecting into pools in the hollows, covering the grass with spots of azure foam. But never again were they in such profusion; this terrace was the well-head, the primal source whence beauty gushed out to water the earth.
Standing at its brink, like a swimmer who prepares, was the good man. But he was not the good man that she had expected, and he was alone.
George had turned at the sound of her arrival. For a moment he contemplated her, as one who had fallen out of heaven. He saw radiant joy in her face, he saw the flowers beat against her dress in blue waves. The bushes above them closed. He stepped quickly forward and kissed her.

Related Characters: Lucy Honeychurch, George Emerson
Related Symbols: Indoors, Outdoors and Views
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, we're reminded of the link between spiritual, personal spring and literal, natural spring--it's natural beauty and vitality that inspires George in his "scandalous" action here. George suddenly shows his feelings for Lucy by kissing her, and she seems to kiss him back. Notice that it's George who kisses Lucy, not the other way around: not only is George the man (and therefore, in a late 19th century novel, the one who'd make the move), he's also the lower-class lover, suggesting that he's less restricted by the rigid manners and social norms of the aristocracy. Lucy has been shown to be equally energetic and imaginative, and yet her energy has been repressed for most of her life--and even here, she is shocked and scandalized by George's kiss, refusing to admit her own feelings.

Chapter 9 Quotes

"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

"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.

Chapter 20 Quotes

Youth enwrapped them; the song of Phaethon announced passion requited, love attained. But they were conscious of a love more mysterious than this. The song died away; they heard the river, bearing down the snows of winter into the Mediterranean.

Related Characters: Lucy Honeychurch, George Emerson
Related Symbols: Indoors, Outdoors and Views
Page Number: 196
Explanation and Analysis:

In this happy, lyrical ending, Lucy and George end up together, having journeyed through Italy once again and reunited. George and Lucy are thrilled to be with each other again: they confess their love for one another, and embrace tenderly. It would seem that they've finally escaped from repression and the control of English proper manners.

And yet, what will George and Lucy's "happy ever after" look like? Forster doesn't tell us what's going to happen, should Lucy and George get married. He leaves the possibilities open, characterizing George and Lucy's love as mysterious and foreign--and also intimately associated with freedom and nature. If Cecil was like an enclosed room, then George is a "room with a view"--one connected to the wildness, freedom, and unpredictability of nature, but still enclosed and sheltering (Lucy doesn't end up totally free, after all).