A Room with a View by E.M. Forster: Summary, Analysis & Themes

Instructor: Michelle Herrin

Michelle has taught high school and college English and has master's degrees in eduation and liberal studies.

We'll talk about English author E.M. Forster's Edwardian novel 'A Room with a View.' This lesson will discuss the historical time period of the novel, summarize its plot, and discuss its major themes.

About the Author

E.M. Forster

E.M. Forster was born on January 1, 1879, in London. Forster is best known as a novelist. Most of his work looks at and criticizes differences between the social classes. His most famous novels are A Room with a View, which was published in 1908; Howard's End, which was published in 1910; and A Passage to India, which was published in 1924.

About the Novel

A Room with a View was published in 1908 and is a story about a young woman coming of age in the Edwardian era, which was the period when King Edward VII ruled England (from 1901-1910). During this time in England, the social rules were very strict, and, although there were changes coming, many people felt this time period was restrictive, especially for women. A Room with a View illustrates some of these social issues, and its heroine has to choose between the old and new ways. Let's see what she decides to do!

A Room with a View Summary

The main character of the novel is a young English woman, Lucy Honeychurch. Lucy is traveling through Italy with much older cousin, Charlotte Bartlett. At their hotel, the Pension Bertolini, a mix up with their rooms leads them to meet fellow English travelers Mr. Emerson, his son George, and a clergyman, Mr. Beebe.

While staying at the hotel, Lucy and George witness a murder in a plaza one day, which greatly affects her. The Emersons are different than anyone else Lucy knows, and she is drawn to George, even though she doesn't understand him (and Charlotte doesn't approve of him).

At one point, Lucy, Charlotte, Mr. Beebe, the Emersons, and another traveler, Miss Lavish, take a day trip to Fiesole, which is in the country. The group has a picnic, and, at one point, Lucy goes looking for Mr. Beebe. Instead, she finds George standing in a field, and he kisses her. Charlotte sees them and is very upset. Charlotte and Lucy promise each other that no one will know about what happened. Lucy and Charlotte leave Florence before Lucy can see George again.

Lucy returns to her home, Windy Corner, in Surrey, England. There, she accepts a proposal of marriage from Cecil Vyse, who is often stuck up and doesn't like Lucy's country home and also doesn't get along very well with her family.

Mr. Beebe, who is the new vicar, or minister, in the town, tells Lucy that the Emersons have rented a house in the area. Lucy's brother, Freddy, becomes friends with George and invites George to Windy Corner (while Charlotte is also visiting). While George is at Windy Corner, Cecil reads from a novel written by Miss Lavish that depicts a scene in Italy with a young man kissing a young woman in a field. This is very much like what happened to George and Lucy in Italy, and Lucy realizes that Charlotte told Miss Lavish about it. George kisses Lucy again while they are alone, but she pushes him away again.

Lucy is upset with Charlotte for obviously telling Miss Lavish about the kiss after they had both promised not to. Because she is angry, Lucy makes Charlotte stay with her when she tells George to leave Windy Corner and never return. George tries to convince her that he is different than Cecil and loves her for who she is. Lucy refuses him, but, later that night, ends up breaking up with Cecil, realizing George is right.

Having rejected George and broken up with Cecil, Lucy plans a trip to Greece to get away from the whole situation. However, Lucy runs into Mr. Emerson, and he prods her to admit that she loved George the whole time.

In the end, George and Lucy elope to Florence and appear to be happy.

Analysis & Themes

The main theme in this novel is the contrast between freedom and oppression, and it is expressed in many ways.

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