Inside vs. Outside, or Rooms +/- Views
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Forster’s particularly fond of playing off the title of this work throughout the novel. The metaphor of the room with a view applies to life in general (see “What’s Up With the Title?” for more on that), and also to individual characters. The “view” that he’s talking about is emblematic of a certain kind of ambition or lust for life. Characters associated with a view, or with the outdoors in general, are more vibrant, exciting, and connected with their own thoughts and desires. These include those who are actually young – Lucy, George, and Freddy – as well as those who are “young at heart,” like Mr. Beebe.
In direct contrast to these “view” characters, we have characters associated with rooms or indoor activities. Cecil is the prime example here – in fact, he’s the one who openly states the association of Lucy as a view and himself as a room (specifically, a drawing room without a view… how dull! It’s hard to be Cecil sometimes). Charlotte is also an indoor force; we learn that she’s actually the one who stopped Lucy from bathing in the Sacred Lake.
Real life views, such as the one that the tourists go to see with Reverend Eager on that dramatic drive in the hills, inspire View characters to action – for example, this particular view inspires George to take the plunge and kiss Lucy for the first time. Notably, their second kiss is also outside (in the garden of Windy Corner), while George’s thwarted declaration of love, which Lucy rejects, is indoors – perhaps things would have gone differently if he’d approached her outside somewhere! When we finally see them reunited, it’s in the original Room With A View in the Pension Bertolini.