Study Guide

A Room with a View Women and Femininity

By E.M. Forster

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Women and Femininity

A Room with a View is all about women. There’s a strong sense of what a woman should be like in the society Forster describes – that is, what they’re expected to be like. However, the author gives us an earnest and refreshingly frank portrait of the interior life of the female protagonist, as she discovers that following the rules of “proper” femininity can rub her the wrong way at times. The choice she is faced with is whether or not she can bring herself to break some of these rules to attain personal happiness as one free-thinking woman, or if she’ll stick to the expectations society has for the Ideal (read: obedient) Woman.

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. If Lucy represents the New Woman, does her mother represent the idealized “medieval lady” of the Victorian period? Why or why not?
  2. Miss Lavish is the only woman we meet who publicly declares her unconventionality – what role does she play in the social system Forster lays out? Does she fit anywhere in this scheme?
  3. The feminine body makes no appearance in this novel. In your opinion, are the women here comfortable with their bodies? Are they even allowed to think about them?
  4. Forster depicts many “maiden ladies” – what role do these unmarried women play in this society?

Chew on This

Age is seen as the greatest threat to women in this novel.

Female desire is an unacceptable concept to most of the characters in the novel, even the women.

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