Study Guide

A Room with a View Transformation

By E.M. Forster

Transformation

Part 1, Chapter 3
Lucy Honeychurch

"If Miss Honeychurch ever takes to live as she plays, it will be very exciting both for us and for her" (3.5).

Indeed it would, Mr. Beebe! The clergyman, wittily observant as always, poses a certain challenge to Lucy here; we see the results emerge in the rest of the book, as Lucy struggles to bring the intensity of feeling that show up in her music to the forefront of her real life.

Part 1, Chapter 4

In the distance she saw creatures with black hoods, such as appear in dreams. The palace tower had lost the reflection of the declining day, and joined itself to earth. How should she talk to Mr. Emerson when he returned from the shadowy square? Again the thought occurred to her, "Oh, what have I done?" – the thought that she, as well as the dying man, had crossed some spiritual boundary (4.20).

Immediately after Lucy and George witness the murder in the Piazza Signoria, she has the feeling that she has changed in some indefinable way – the experience has changed her, and sent her into a new questioning and uncertain mode.

Part 1, Chapter 5

[…] the joys of life were grouping themselves anew. A drive in the hills with Mr. Eager and Miss Bartlett – even if culminating in a residential tea-party – was no longer the greatest of them (5.20).

Lucy’s transformation after the murder is evident here. Now that she has a different perspective on life and death, something as trivial as a drive in the hills suddenly doesn’t seem that important anymore – but what is?

Part 2, Chapter 8

But Italy worked some marvel in her. It gave her light, and – which he held more precious – it gave her shadow. Soon he detected in her a wonderful reticence. She was like a woman of Leonardo da Vinci's, whom we love not so much for herself as for the things that she will not tell us. The things are assuredly not of this life; no woman of Leonardo's could have anything so vulgar as a "story." She did develop most wonderfully day by day (8.22).

Cecil sees a change in Lucy, but can’t identify it. Being Cecil, he attributes it to Italy itself. However, we know that Lucy has changed because of her experiences, and her budding understanding of herself. After seeing a murder and being kissed passionately, how could a girl possibly stay the same?

“There was simply the sense that she had found wings, and meant to use them. I can show you a beautiful picture in my Italian diary: Miss Honeychurch as a kite, Miss Bartlett holding the string. Picture number two: the string breaks" (8.36).

Mr. Beebe, whose observations are again right on the money, also sees that Lucy has changed in Italy, though he, unlike Cecil, understands that it’s her personal development that makes her seem different, not just her travels on the Continent. He wonders what will happen if Lucy is allowed to transcend the limitations of social do’s and don’ts – to what heights could she soar if nobody held her back?

Part 2, Chapter 10

Nor did he realize a more important point—that if she was too great for this society, she was too great for all society, and had reached the stage where personal intercourse would alone satisfy her. A rebel she was, but not of the kind he understood—a rebel who desired, not a wider dwelling-room, but equality beside the man she loved (10.3).

Cecil’s limited understanding rears its annoying head once again. He sees that Lucy no longer fits in the society she grew up in, but can’t see that this doesn’t just mean she’s ready to move up in the world. Lucy, in fact, has escaped the normal boundaries of polite society and has become her own person; she needs to find someone who will appreciate her and respect this new independent woman.

Part 2, Chapter 11

“Make Lucy one of us,” she said, looking round intelligently at the end of each sentence, and straining her lips apart until she spoke again. “Lucy is becoming wonderful—wonderful.”

“Her music always was wonderful.”

“Yes, but she is purging off the Honeychurch taint, most excellent Honeychurches, but you know what I mean. She is not always quoting servants, or asking one how the pudding is made” (11.17-9).

This obnoxious and somewhat creepy conversation between Cecil and Mrs. Vyse demonstrates exactly how snobby and class-conscious they are. Lucy is only “becoming wonderful” now because her identity as a Honeychurch is fading away, and they hope to complete the transformation from Honeychurch to Vyse fully.

Part 2, Chapter 13

The ghosts were returning; they filled Italy, they were even usurping the places she had known as a child. The Sacred Lake would never be the same again, and, on Sunday week, something would even happen to Windy Corner. How would she fight against ghosts? For a moment the visible world faded away, and memories and emotions alone seemed real (13.20).

The new and confusing feelings that plague Lucy transform even the most familiar of places, and make her old life seem foreign and almost dangerous to her. The “ghosts” that take over her life gradually are the feelings that she can’t come to terms with – her passion for George and her discontent with life as she knows it.

Part 2, Chapter 17
Cecil Vyse

“I have never known you till this evening. I have just used you as a peg for my silly notions of what a woman should be. But this evening you are a different person: new thoughts—even a new voice—"

“What do you mean by a new voice?” she asked, seized with incontrollable anger.

“I mean that a new person seems speaking through you,” said he (17.35-7).

Though Lucy doesn’t want to admit it, Cecil is actually right for once. Lucy has found a new voice – and it sounds just like George. This makes us wonder how much she has truly come into her own at this point.

Part 2, Chapter 19
Mr. Emerson

“Man has to pick up the use of his functions as he goes along—especially the function of Love” (19.41).

Mr. Emerson rightly comments that we have to learn about life as we go; we’ve seen Lucy learn how to live throughout the novel, and here Forster suggests that the last thing she really has to figure out is Love.

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