A Room with a View
How we cite our quotes:
“[…] have you ever noticed that there are people who do things which are most indelicate, and yet at the same time—beautiful?"
"Beautiful?" said Miss Bartlett, puzzled at the word. "Are not beauty and delicacy the same?"
"So one would have thought," said [Lucy] helplessly. "But things are so difficult, I sometimes think" (1.99-101).
Here, Lucy shows us how different she is from the rest of the contented, conventional characters in the novel early on. Her subtle sense that there’s a difference between what’s polite (or “delicate”) and what’s actually right and good (or “beautiful”) is not one that jives with the social values and expectations of the day.
“[…] let yourself go. You are inclined to get muddled, if I may judge from last night. Let yourself go. Pull out from the depths those thoughts that you do not understand, and spread them out in the sunlight and know the meaning of them” (2.43).
Though Mr. Emerson doesn’t know Lucy well at all, he’s able to see right through her. He understands that she’s constantly struggling to put aside the thoughts and feelings she doesn’t understand, in order to maintain the image of a proper and polite young lady, even if that’s not who she really is.
It so happened that Lucy, who found daily life rather chaotic, entered a more solid world when she opened the piano. She was then no longer either deferential or patronizing; no longer either a rebel or a slave. The kingdom of music is not the kingdom of this world; it will accept those whom breeding and intellect and culture have alike rejected. The commonplace person begins to play, and shoots into the empyrean without effort, whilst we look up, marvelling how he has escaped us, and thinking how we could worship him and love him, would he but translate his visions into human words, and his experiences into human actions. Perhaps he cannot; certainly he does not, or does so very seldom. Lucy had done so never (3.1).
Music is seen as an outlet for Lucy’s feelings and perhaps for her true identity, which, up to this point, she hasn’t been able to express through action or words. As Mr. Beebe notes, Lucy’s playing is certainly more exciting than her life is – we wonder, as he does, if they’ll ever catch up to each other.