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Literature / A Room with a View

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A Room with a View is a 1908 novel written by E. M. Forster.

The protagonist is Lucy Honeychurch, a young English woman travelling to Florence for the first time during The Edwardian Era. She befriends the eccentric Mr. Emerson and his handsome, philosophical son George, and begins to feel confused about her feelings for the latter, especially when he kisses her in a violet field. When she returns to England, she begins an engagement with the conventional Cecil Vyse, who is very unlike George. However, soon she receives word that the Emersons have moved into a nearby cottage…

The story was adapted by Merchant Ivory into an award-winning 1985 film starring Helena Bonham Carter, Julian Sands, Dame Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Denholm Elliott and Daniel Day-Lewis. It has also been made into a stage play, a BBC radio series, and a 2007 made-for-TV movie.

A Room with a View contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: The 2007 film substitutes its own epilogue for Forster's, having George die in the First World War.
  • Betty and Veronica Switch: A gender-flipped example. Progressive and unconventional George Emerson is initially the Veronica; he kisses Lucy passionately without any of the "proper" courtship that Cecil Vyse (the initial Betty) goes through. However, George turns out to be the suitor who is far more suited to Lucy and more considerate of what she wants.
  • Bookends: The 1985 film ends with Lucy and George returning to the same pensione in Florence, where a stranger is upset about not having a room with a view. George echoes his father's line from the beginning of the story: "We have a view..."
  • Brutal Honesty: A trait of Mr. Emerson, as described in the very first chapter. It plays a crucial role near the end of the story when Mr. Emerson delivers a long and impassioned speech to Lucy about how obvious it is that she loves his son George and is in denial of it; he is willing to shock and upset her to an extreme so that she will wake up to herself.
  • Contrived Coincidence: When the Emersons run into Cecil by chance, he suggests that they move into a cottage near to where Lucy Honeychurch lives, unaware that they know each other.
  • Cultural Rebel: Both Emerson men embrace forward-thinking ideals that are at odds with the Edwardian society around them, and have a disregard for the way things are done conventionally. Mr. Emerson senior is stated to be a socialist, as well as an atheist.
  • Death by Adaptation: The 2007 film kills off George Emerson in the epilogue.
  • Disposable Fiancé: Cecil Vyse is somewhere between the Minor Flaws and Bland Perfection subtypes. His obnoxious "minor" flaws are warning signs that he would see Lucy more as a possession than a person in her own right, as George points out.
  • First Girl Wins: Gender-flipped; Lucy met George first during her time in Italy, and ends up with him.
  • First Kiss: George kisses Lucy after being overcome by her beauty in a field of violets; she has been led to him after being inadvertently misdirected there.
  • Graceful Loser: When Lucy breaks off their engagement, Cecil acknowledges the truth of all she says. In fact, this trope makes the task harder for her than she first anticipated.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Cecil Vyse suggests that the Emersons move into the cottage nearby, as a way to stick it to the landlord. This action ends up bringing George and Lucy together, eventually leading Lucy to break off her engagement to Cecil.
  • Hypocrite: After remonstrating with Lucy about how nobody must ever know about the kiss George gave her, Charlotte goes and tells, of all people, a novelist who has already intimated that she intends to base her next work on the people she met in the pensione!
  • Love Epiphany: When Lucy is preparing to flee to Greece after breaking off her engagement with Cecil, she runs into Mr. Emerson, who helps her to realise that she has been in love with his son George the whole time, and that her proposed flight was a way to flee from her own feelings.
  • Matron Chaperone: Charlotte Bartlett is this to Lucy Honeychurch during their travels through Italy; she steps in to end the intimacy after George kisses Lucy in the violet field. Lucy finds out that Charlotte told the novelist Eleanor Lavish of the kiss, when Cecil reads aloud a suspiciously similar scene from a romance novel by Miss Lavish.
  • Outdoor Bath Peeping: An accidental example in which it is the men (George, Freddy and Mr. Beebe) bathing in a pond when Lucy, her mother and Cecil accidentally come upon them.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: Cecil Vyse. Lucy finds him to be stuffy and boring, as much as she tries to convince herself otherwise; she discovers that she has been in love with George Emerson the whole time.
  • Spirited Young Lady: Lucy Honeychurch. She has less inhibitions than her cousin Charlotte and enjoys the Emersons' flouting of convention. Although she is living in an era in which women could have slightly more freedom and independence, she is still chafing at the carryover from the Victorian times manifesting in some of those around her - particularly her stuffy fiance Cecil.
  • Title Drop: Lucy and Charlotte are upset at not having the promised view of the River Arno from their hotel room. In response, Mr. Emerson, who is staying there with his son George, offers to swap rooms with them.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Downplayed. When Mr. Emerson steps in to offer to swap hotel rooms with Charlotte and Lucy so that they will have a view of the river, Charlotte curtly refuses, and deems it impolite of him to offer, thinking that he only did it to make the ladies feel indebted to him and his son.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Forster himself wrote an appendix to the story 50 years later, detailing numerous adverse circumstances that befell Lucy and George after their wedding and through both world wars.

Alternative Title(s): A Room With A View