Study Guide

A Room with a View Society and Class

By E.M. Forster

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Society and Class

In this book, the divisive boundaries of social class dominate practically all of the characters. The metaphor of the room with a view, which represents a life unrestrained by the strict laws of “good” society, appears constantly through the book in contrast to the highly structured, stuffy world in which our characters live. The question facing the protagonist (and all of us readers) is whether or not one should succumb to a perfectly pleasant, but perhaps ultimately unsatisfying, life dictated by society’s rules in a dull, view-less room. The other option, to break free from the boundaries of social norms and class and find that esoteric room with an exciting view of the world around us, is incredibly difficult, but perhaps more appealing in the end.

Questions About Society and Class

  1. Does the novel offer any solutions for the divisive social system it depicts?
  2. Do we see any examples of either the extreme upper class or lower class of this society?
  3. Is class, as seen by Forster, a specifically English problem?

Chew on This

The pairing of characters that are alike yet opposite (Mr. Beebe and Mr. Eager, Lucy and Charlotte, Cecil and George) helps readers understand both the concrete nature of the class system that Forster depicts and its alternatives.

Lucy and George’s necessary escape to Italy at the end of the book is inevitable because English society is not ready for the crossing of class lines represented by their marriage yet.

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