What are the main contrasts and similarities between Lucy Honeychurch and Charlotte Bartlett in A Room With a View?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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These two characters share some similarities, primarily being their position in society and their class. It is clear that they are considered gentlewomen, and they are deemed to be acceptable by the other guests in their pension. However, beyond this, there appear to be more differences in their character than similarities. Charlotte is the chaperone of Lucy, an older woman who is accompanying her on her travels in Italy, and she is well aware that she is a dependent and that she has duties to look out for Lucy and to negotiate delicate social situations, such as the room swap with the Emersons. It is clear that Charlotte is a creature of her age, dominated by doing everything correctly and by the book of their culture. How one is viewed and how one conducts oneself in social situations are of tremendous importance to her. Lucy, by contrast, is less fully formed, and clearly a passionate individual, as her piano playing suggests. Note how Lucy repsonds to the room swap when it is enacted:

And yet--there was a rebellious spirit in her which wondered whether the acceptance might not have been less delicate and more beautiful. At all events, she entered her own room without any feeling of joy.

Note the difference between the two adjectives "delicate" and "beautiful." To Lucy's mind, the adjective "delicate" perfectly sums up the world of her cousin, with its emphasis on doing and saying everything "correctly." Her desire to make the acceptance "more beautiful" speaks of her longing to express her emotions more openly and honestly than feeling they must be constrained by social convention.

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