The Reader's Den: "A Room with a View" (Week 3) Discussion Questions
A Room with a View begins its second part at the Honeychurch home in Surrey, a county in the south of England. Much has happened since we last saw Lucy: after she and Charlotte left Florence in a mad haste, they traveled to Rome, where they met fellow countrymen Cecil Vyse and his mother. As this section opens, Cecil is proposing to Lucy (for the third time) in the garden, as her mother peeks anxiously out the drawing room window. Once Lucy has accepted his proposal, we begin to see that Cecil is at best pretentious, and at worst positively insufferable.
When the Emersons coincidentally turn up in Lucy's very own town of Summer Street, things promise to get a little bit awkward. Of course, Lucy and George do arrive at a happy ending, though not necessarily in the way you might expect.
- Do you think Lucy ever really intended to marry Cecil? If not, what was her motivation for accepting his proposal?
- Lucy and George fall in love without seeming to have much interaction at all. (The 1985 film version gives them a lot more face time, seemingly to make the love story come together.) Does this ring false for you, or do you buy in to the idea of a deep connection that doesn't necessarily require much interaction?
- Why does Mr. Beebe react the way he does when he hears that Lucy loves George? Hasn't he been hoping for her to "live as she plays" throughout the book?
- How does Forster use music to communicate things about Lucy's state of mind? For example:
- What does it say about Lucy that she plays piano so passionately, but lives so meekly, in the words of Mr. Beebe?
- Why does Lucy refuse to play Beethoven, but stick to Schubert when in Mrs. Vyse's "well appointed flat"?
- Why, after she breaks up with Cecil, does Lucy sing the poem "Lucy Ashton's Song" by Sir Walter Scott?
- Why does Charlotte have a change of heart, deciding to help Lucy and George? Is this a complete surprise, or can you see moments of foreshadowing earlier in the book?
Please come back next week for closing thoughts, recommended reading, further speculations, and a discussion of "A View without a Room: Old friends fifty years later," a postscript which Forster published in 1958 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the novel. There is a bound copy in the Rare Book Division of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (make sure to register in advance). This short essay is also available at all NYPL locations though the library's searchable New York Times database.