A Room with a View


E. M. Forster

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A Room with a View: Genre 1 key example

Explanation and Analysis:

A Room with a View is a novel that falls within several subgenres, including romance, travel literature, coming-of-age literature, and satire. The romantic genre is a result of the mood that surrounds the brewing feelings between George and Lucy. In each of the novel's halves, they share gripping kiss scenes surrounded by lush nature. Additionally, while the narrator occasionally leaves the reader wondering whether Lucy will get married at all, the novel ultimately reveals itself to be a marriage plot. The final chapter brings Lucy and George back to Florence, as they return to Italy for their honeymoon. 

It goes without saying that it is mainly a result of the setting that A Room with a View feels like a tourist novel. With half of the book taking place in Florence, the Florentine architecture and Tuscan nature play a dynamic role in the development of the plot and characters. Forster exaggerates their helplessness in their foreign environment, creating several comical conversations and situations that are a direct result of linguistic and cultural barriers. In line with this, he uses the tourist novel genre to probe into the myths and paradoxes that underlie the desire to witness a foreign culture. This act of witnessing frames the novel, as the novel begins with the pursuit of a room with a view and ends with gazing out from it. The second half is not a tourist novel, as Lucy returns to the familiar settings of England and Windy Corner.

When the reader meets them, both Lucy and George come across as hampered by their youth. Whereas Lucy is restricted by her innocence and deference, George is restricted by his naive pessimism. Throughout the novel, both characters actively grapple with the contradictions and demands of the adult world, which they are both on the cusp of entering. By the end of the novel, Lucy has taken charge over her life and George has put some of his pessimism to the side. This parallel development in the young heroine and hero makes the novel a coming-of-age story.

The wittiness of Forster's style and the narrator's tone also make the novel a social satire. While Forster pokes fun at all of the characters, he especially ridicules members of the outdated upper class—he makes fun of presumptuous and unaware tourists through the character of Miss Lavish, moralizing and mean clergyman through the character of Mr. Eager, and pompous snobs through the character of Cecil.