The Subtle Heroine in "A Room with a View" by E.M. Forster

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The Subtle Heroine
A Room with a View, by Edward Morgan Foster, presents the story of Lucy Honeychurch, a young woman belonging to English “high society.” Foster places this young maiden in a state of conflict between the snobbery of her class, the “suitable and traditional” views and advice offered by various family members and friends, and her true heart’s desire. This conflict “forces Lucy Honeychurch to choose between convention and passion (Bantam Intro-back cover),” and throws her into a state of internal struggle, as she must sift through the elements of her “social conditioning” and discern them from her true emotions and desires. Foster develops and utilizes Lucy’s internal struggle as a means of transforming her from a petty young woman to a subtle heroine. Lucy Honeychurch is introduced to the reader as a somewhat petty young woman, obviously ignorant to the “ways of the world,” who is being chaperoned by her cousin, Charlotte Barlett, while vacationing in Italy. Numerous conversations over matters of dress, the acceptability of various pieces of furniture, and other’s vacations, suggest the snobbish nature of both Lucy and Charlotte. In fact, matters of convention encompass Lucy’s life until George Emerson’s “caddish,” yet never the less passionate, display of affection in the bed of violets throws her into an internal struggle of transformation. George’s powerful advice, “Courage and love (p.66),” uttered just before he kisses Lucy, gives her the strength to begin her strength to overcome convention in favor of passion, and lights the fire of her transformation. Next, Foster brilliantly introduces the character of Cecil Vyse, a “medieval” and high standing Englishman who, while is an acceptable suitor, really only sees Lucy as another pretty possession by his side. Cecil’s most important function ironically...
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