A Room With a View: Victorian v. Edwardian Essay

A Room With a View: Victorian v. Edwardian Essay

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A Room With a View is a novel written by E.M. Forster in 1908. In the novel, the protagonist, Lucy, must choose between her limited but safe Victorian lifestyle and the opportunity of an exciting but scary Edwardian future. This choice is reflected in the attitudes of the two men she considers marrying, Victorian Cecil Vyse or the Edwardian George Emerson. The characters in A Room With a View have extremely contrasting attitudes and behaviors because some are Victorian and others are Edwardian.
E.M. Forster wrote many novels with themes about social justice. A central theme in the novel is the lower status of females in Victorian society compared to the women of Edwardian society. The author's interest in equality was fueled by the difficult situations he faced in his life. Edward Morgan Forster was born on January 1, 1879 in London, England (Gardner 398). When Forster was still a baby, his father died, leaving Edward to be raised exclusively by women (Gardner 398). Forster was also a homosexual, which commentators believe, "fueled his anger at social and political injustice" (Summers 5).
The problems Lucy faces in A Room With a View mirror those of E.M. Forster. Forster, being raised by the women in his life, saw the difficult choices they had to make. Lucy's biggest decision is whether to live a fulfilling, happy life or follow along with her families values. Forster watched the Victorian women in his life give up their freedom for societal acceptance. For example, Forster's maternal grandmother on whom he based the character of Mrs. Honey church (Gardner 398) Forster also recognized the parallels between the societal treatment of women and its treatment of homosexuals. Forster also enjoyed adding "muddle" ...


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... Victorian values. She is supposed to be submissive and delicate, and she does attempt to do what her cousin asks and remain ladylike. Towards the middle of the story Lucy has obviously been thinking a lot about her future and she begins to speak her mind but is usually shut down by Cecil or other Victorian characters. By the end of the novel, Lucy has realized Cecil will never treat her as an equal and she leaves him.
A Room With a View shows the dramatic difference between a traditional Victorian character and a modern Edwardian. The overall message of the book is that some people have conventional attitudes and behaviors and others have contemporary attitudes and behaviors but each individual must choose for themselves what will make them happy. Pretending to be a person who you're not to obtain family or societal acceptance will not make you happy.

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