Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
A Room with a View may be considered in two parts, with part 1 taking place in Italy and representing the Greek world and its Dionysian element and part 2 taking place in England and representing the medieval or ascetic. A synthesis of the views or divisions will provide a balanced perspective.
Miss Lucy Honeychurch, a young Englishwoman, and Miss Charlotte Bartlett, her cousin and chaperon, arrive at the Pension Bertolini and are disappointed to find that they have been misled about their rooms. They are not south, but north, and neither has a view. During dinner, Mr. Emerson and his son, George, generously offer to exchange their rooms, which do have a view. Emerson believes that women like looking at a view; men do not. He does not care what he sees outside; his view is within. Charlotte and Lucy are startled by the so-called tactlessness and indelicateness of their offer. They see Reverend Arthur Beebe, who assures the ladies that some niceties go against the grain. He agrees to act as an intermediary and makes arrangements with the Emersons to switch rooms. Charlotte is careful not to give Lucy the room formerly occupied by George. She believes that, in a small way, she is a woman of the world and knows where some things can lead.
Later, Beebe hears Lucy playing the piano and asks if he can say something daring. He tells her that if she could live in the way that she plays Beethoven, it would be very exciting for everyone. Music...
(The entire section is 1183 words.)
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Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Lucy Honeychurch and Charlotte Bartlett are disappointed by the Pension Bertolini, where they are staying in Florence, and by the fact that their rooms have no view. They are embarrassed at dinner at the pension when Mr. Emerson offers for himself and his son to exchange rooms with the two women, as their rooms have a view. Lucy and Charlotte’s unhappiness decreases when the Reverend Arthur Beebe, whom they had known previously, and who has been appointed rector of Lucy’s home parish, joins them at dinner. After dinner, he manages to convince Charlotte that the exchange of rooms will not put the women under any obligation to the Emersons. The change, although effected, merely confirms Charlotte’s opinion that the Emersons are ill-bred.
At Santa Croce Church, Lucy meets the Emersons, who guide her to the Giotto frescoes that she has come to see. She finds that she is more at ease with Mr. Emerson than she had expected to be, although she is confused by his rejection of artistic and religious cant and his concern about his son.
Late one afternoon, Lucy declares that she is going for a walk alone. She buys some photographs of paintings that she has seen and then walks through the Piazza Signoria. As she does so, she passes two men who are arguing over a debt. One stabs the other, and the stricken man, bleeding from the mouth, dies at her feet. At that moment, she sees George Emerson watching from across the square. As he reaches her side,...
(The entire section is 1252 words.)
When Lucy Honeychurch and Charlotte Bartlett arrive at the Bertolini Pension, the women are upset that their rooms view a courtyard instead of the promised view of Florence. An uncouth man, Mr. Emerson, offers to swap rooms but Charlotte refuses. Clergyman Beebe, however, rescues the situation and the swap takes place. Lucy, a young woman in Italy for the first time, wants to take in all the sights but is slowed down by Charlotte, her spinsterly chaperone. Fortunately, another English tourist, Miss Lavish, offers to take her to Santa Croce. After an exciting walk, Miss Lavish abandons Lucy who enters the church alone.
Since Miss Lavish kept the guidebook, Lucy finds herself “in Santa Croce with No Baedeker.” She has no choice but to tour the church in remembrance of what she has read. By accident, Lucy meets the Emersons, who show her how to enjoy the church with their own unfiltered senses. Lucy insists on points the book had highlighted but “the pernicious charm of Italy worked on her, and, instead of acquiring information, she began to be happy.” While his son, George, is at a distance, Mr. Emerson proposes that Lucy take an interest in him. Despite this insult, Mr. Emerson helps her to not have the proper aesthetic experience. Rather, she is “inflated spiritually,” “thoroughly happy, and having a splendid time.”
Invigorated by a rainy afternoon spent playing the piano, Lucy avoids being ensnared by...
(The entire section is 1284 words.)