A Sense of Character and Society in Forster's Room With a View

A Sense of Character and Society in Forster's Room With a View

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A Sense of Character and Society in Forster's Room With a View

Forster wastes no time in setting the scene and setting the class boundaries of his characters. We know even from the first statement that Miss Bartlett is towards the upper classes and is potentially a very highly strung woman, which is later proven to be true. "The Signora had no business to do it" is so telling because we can imagine the word "Signora" being spat out in disgust and the forcefulness of the "no" truly imprints Charlottes histeria as major trait of her disposition.
The elitist attitude of Miss Lucy Honeychurch shortly follows. The way her opinion of the Signora is put, "And a Cockney, besides! ", is very derogatory and so we can make the assumption that because she is looking down upon the lower class Londoners, that she herself will in fact be from the upper class.
In the time that the book was set, just after the turn of the century, it was common for the upper classes of Britain to take "A Grand Tour" which would involve visiting all the major cities in mainland Europe. From the word "Signora" we may infer that Miss Bartlett and Lucy are abroad (which was a comparatively rare thing to do) and that they have enough money to do so and therefore are upper class. (Although we do then discover that charlotte is actually penniless and is merely chaperoning Lucy).
In the fourth paragraph, that fact that the Signora had "promised" them both rooms with views is repeated from the first paragraph. This shows that Lucy is obviously used to getting her own way and can afford to make a fuss and this is a reflection on the society from which she comes giving us a closer insight into her character and the standards she expects.
Charlotte is very conscious of how other people see her and it seems the person that she is and the impression of herself that she would like to impose onto other people are two different things. She would like to seem self-sacrificing as seen in the phrase "any nook does for me" and when she consequently offers her room to Lucy. When the offer of the room escalates into bickering the reader can see that the manners enforced by their society prevent them from "full-blown" arguing and yet the education of their society prevents either of them from either thinking logically or practically.

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This is where we meet Mr. Emerson. There are no false pretences; he is described in the narrative as ill-bred and his intrusion into their argument is executed without thought and without trepidation all signs that he has few manners or inhibitions and therefore, despite have the decency of trying to settle the women's dispute, he must be of a lower class. The evaluation of Mr. Emerson carried out by Miss Bartlett that follows attracts the reader to the differences in the classes in society of that day. For example, Miss Bartlett disapproves of his sense of dress, a factor although shallow was of high importance if she was going to consider to be seen acquainted with them.
A method that Forster uses exceedingly well throughout, is the use of one monosyllabic noise by an upper class character to describe their opinion on the situation. Whether it be a melodramatic "Oh!" or and uninterested "Ah" this technique heightens the superiority of the character hence highlighting the difference in class and the structure of the past society.
Also, Forster differentiates between characters by referring to them as "The better class of tourist" or "one of the ill-bred people" which also adds hyperbole to importance of class. As a result, this makes gestures that bridge the gap even more momentous because not only do they break the barrier but they prove a certain humanity. However, an alternative interpretation of this could be that it shows naivety on the intricacies of the workings of the gentry system. A joyfully subtle example of such an expression is shown in the phrase: "It gave her (Lucy) no extra pleasure that anyone should be left in the cold...she gave the two outsiders a nervous little bow." She would have been nervous of her actions because it might have been as to how they may have been received but then her bow shows no hard feelings from her despite her cousin's hard-nosed attitude.
In the case of Mr. Beebe, to an extent Forster uses stereotype. He is described as "a clergyman, stout but attractive". We automatically assume that (in the case of a novel) a man of cloth is of good repute and gently natured. He would be likely to have a very positive attitude and a very comfortable air about him and the adverbs later used to describe his actions certainly affirm this for example "cheerfully apologizing" and "he came forward pleasantly".
Lucy's reaction to the entrance of Mr. Beebe portrays her youth and inexperience of adult society by displaying far more emotion and enthusiasm that would have been considered necessary. Also, only having met Mr. Beebe once and then looking at the emphasis on her excitement by the use of the anaphora of "Oh!" it could possibly be that she is merely incredibly thankful to have some new company. The differences between her and Charlotte are already apparent and so a new face to dilute Charlotte's company would evidently be very welcome.
Mr. Emerson appears to be a practical and straight to the point sort of man which accounts for his frustration when Miss Bartlett refuses to swap rooms only to maintain her social status. George Emerson seems very much like his father only with a drier sense of humour, which subtly insults Miss Bartlett. This is shown in the phrase " "It's so obvious that they should take the rooms", said the son. "There's nothing else to say" ". This ridicules Miss Bartlett because if something is obvious it should be done and by not doing it Miss Bartlett is made to seem unintelligent when because she is higher in class she should be more so.
When asked it Lucy has been to Florence she replies, "she had never been there before" which again shows her innocence at the wider world. This shortly leads to the entrance of Miss Lavish who makes her first impression of being a very intelligent woman by being opinionated and vocal. Her first word is "No!" and showing objection can often lead to an interesting discussion. Her sureness of self comes across very appealing to Charlotte who, in contrast, is very self-conscious.
By using the phrase "a perfect torrent of information" Forster uses imagery to create a climax of activity within the pension which could represent the current disruption of Lucy's character because having had a very similar lifestyle for many years being thrown into mixed class situations, she would be feeling very unsettled and this chaos mirrors it perfectly because it is a not a fatal situation just new and unfamiliar.
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