Study Guide

Cecil Vyse in A Room with a View

By E.M. Forster

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Cecil Vyse

We have to wonder what Lucy ever saw in Cecil. Yes, he’s perfectly “right” on the outside – well-off, well-connected, and apparently intelligent. However, once we get to know him a little better, it’s obvious that he’s wrong, wrong, wrong for Lucy. Everyone else is able to see this – Freddy, Mr. Beebe, George, and even Mrs. Honeychurch lose their patience with Cecil’s unbearably pompous attitude. Even Cecil himself seems to realize his obnoxiousness at times; for example, when he announces his engagement to Lucy to Mr. Beebe, he can see that he’s being “hopelessly contrary.”

Part of what makes Cecil so very Cecil is his proprietary attitude towards Lucy, which George picks up on immediately. Rather than approaching love as a give and take between two equals, he sees himself as a “protector” of women (even though he doesn’t always know what to do with them – in fact, most of the time he doesn’t). What Cecil doesn’t understand is that Love, as the Pat Benatar song rightly declares, Is A Battlefield. Lucy needs someone who will both challenge her and respect her for her intelligence. Unfortunately for him, he realizes this too late, when he’s being dumped. We hope that he learns from this experience, and either treats his next girlfriend like a person or, as Mr. Beebe suggests, remains single forever. We don’t really bear him any ill will – after all, he’s not really a bad guy, he’s just too dominated by social convention to be able to handle real human relationships.

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