“I read this book as part of a class studying the novels of E. M. Forster. Popularized by the film from 1985, the novel is about a young woman in the repressed culture of Edwardian era England. Set in Italy and England, the story is both a romance and a critique of English society at the beginning of the 20th century.
A Room with a View is Forster's most romantic and optimistic book. He develops the story through contrasts between "dynamic" and "static" characters. "Dynamic" characters are those whose ideas and inner-self develop or change in the plot, whereas "static" characters remain constant. The novel touches upon many issues surrounding society and politics in early 20th century Edwardian culture. Forster differentiates between conservative and radical thinking, illustrated in part by his contrasts between Medieval (Mr. Beebe, Miss Bartlett, Cecil Vyse) and Renaissance characters (Lucy, the Emersons).
Lucy personifies the young and impressionable generation emerging during that era, during which women's suffrage would gain strong ground. The novel could even be called a Bildungsroman, as it follows the development of the protagonist. Binary opposites are played throughout the novel, and often there are mentions of "rooms" and "views". Characters and places associated with "rooms" are, more often than not, conservative and uncreative — Mrs Honeychurch is often pictured in a room, as is Cecil. Characters like Freddy and the Emersons, on the other hand, are often described as being "outside" — representing their open, forward-thinking and modern character types. There is also a constant theme of Light and Dark, where on many occasions, Cecil himself states how Lucy represents light, but Forster responds by stating how Cecil is the Dark as they bathe naked in the Honeychurches' pond, alluding to the fact that they can never be together, and that she really belongs with George.
Forster also contrasts the symbolic differences between Italy and England. He idealized Italy as a place of freedom and sexual expression. Italy promised raw, natural passion that inspired many Britons at the time who wished to escape the constrictions of English society.
All of these themes are brought together through the beauty of Forster's prose in his novel that portends greater things to come.”