A Room with A View Chpt 4: Symbolism and narrative Sequence of events • Structurally, the novel consists of a series of encounters where Lucy confronts different people like the Emersons or Mr Beebe severally or individually. • Each encounter forces Lucy to reassess herself, her values and ideas. • The novel follows a pattern of education by having her come to terms with the experience and ideas of those she meets. This pattern is repeated throughout the novel. CHPT 4 • One of the most significant encounters is: • When Lucy leaves the pension agst the advice of Beebe and Miss Alan and enters the Piazza Signoria and faints after witnessing a murder – crime of passion => unpremeditated act. MUSIC • The chpt begins and ends with music. ‘River Arno …whose roar..unexpected melody to her ears’ P42. • From previous chpt 3, Beethoven has rendered her restless and she is discontented. • Music is a means of releasing the unconscious and of knowing one's desires. • Lucy has been led to live by convention and not trust her instincts. • She is full of energy, vitality and natural charm but this is repressed by excessive middle-class cautio • Her only outlet is her music. Lucy’s music • Opus 111(from sonata 32) – played at Tunbridge Wells – described by music critics as a piece where “variations explode as if Beethoven were some jazzman of the future, breaking the walls of time” • Technically challenging piece • Lucy’s taste is distinct yet ‘troubles’ her – it creates a “muddle” in her consciousness • The fact that Lucy chooses complexity over simple conformity suggests a ‘hidden’ passion – “Passion was there, but it could not be easily labelled; it slipped between love and hatred and jealousy…” (p28) Symbolism • This slight incident is resonant with symbolism around which the rest of the book is built. • The major symbol is the Piazza itself, and this is extended by the symbols of water, blood, Neptune and Venus, light and music. • Lucy steps into the Piazza prepared, without knowing it, for the shattering, at least temporarily, of the shell of repression she has built up around herself. • Inspired by Beethoven's music, • she does not feel like a passive medieval lady but rather like a questing knight: • “She too is enamoured of heavy winds, and vast panoramas, and green expanses of the sea. She has marked the kingdom of this world, how full it is of wealth, and beauty… (p. 37) • Yet this is ‘the ideal to which she is bidden to lift her eyes when feeling serious’ p38 • She is not presented very attractively here. Much of the narrative perspective is from her point of view but the narrator also uses detached irony to gently mock her naivety. • Eg ‘though she had spent 7lire, the gates of liberty seemed still unopened’ p38 • Desirous of beauty and liberty she has purchase some photographs of famous paintings. But they fail to lift up her spirits. Conscious of the grandeur and promise of Art, she has yet to appreciate their meaning and power. • She continues to seek ‘second hand experiences through reproductions of art’ • Forster values direct experience - often profoundly human experience on a grand scale - over limited and edited accounts of it. • She complains self-pityingly that there is no drama in her life. • Irony is there are ‘marvels’ before her eyes. BUT The contents have grown fairly familiar and hence engendered a measure of contempt.p38 • Lucy is too locked up in herself to see it. Narrator implies a more experienced person might be impressed but not Lucy she desired more. • Lucy – young and impressionable is selfabsorbed => all around her are some of the greatest works of Art – hands, minds - but they are not enough for her. • Foster’s description => emphasizes the ‘wonder’ of the place but Lucy fails to see or feel it’s splendour. The shadows cast are as much by her low spiritis as they are by the low sun • The initial description of the Piazza suggests its dream-like character as a place of release and the surfacing of the irrational and the sensual: The great square was in shadow; the sunshine had come too late to strike it. Neptune was already unsubstantial in the twilight, half god, half ghost, and his fountain plashed dreamily to the men and satyrs who idled together in its marge. • The Loggia showed as the triple entrance of a cave, wherein dwelt many a deity, shadowy, but im- mortal, looking forth upon the arrivals and departures of mankind. It was the hour of unreality-the hour, that is, when unfamiliar things are real. (p. 48) • Lucy’s desire for something more is not slaked but heightened by what she sees. • Narrator’s description verges on the romantic poetic. – fountain ‘plashed’ dreamily and Neptune is unsubstantial ; ‘half God, half-ghost ’=> atmosphere is threatening , majestic and mystery. • Foster sums up the mood as ‘the hour of unreality’ stressing the heightening of the poetic language in the description. • The environment begins to speak to Lucy at a deeper level. ‘pernicious charm’ c/r Chpt 2 • The sexual connotations of the square are almost explicit in its character as a "cave" and with the tower of the palace, "which rose out of the lower darkness like a pillar of roughened gold. • It seemed no longer a tower, no longer supported by earth but some unattainable treasure throbbing in the tranquil sky". (p. 38) • More than an inanimate object, it represents a throbbing and dancing life-force. • There is a play on the obvious sexual symbolism of the pillar as a phallic symbol.. • Lucy senses without understanding the forces that might take hold of her and translate her into a new plane of being. • The tower thus expresses Lucy’s anticipation of a world of emotional and sexual intensity to which she is still a stranger. Water and Blood • The presiding deity of this locale is Neptune, in the midst of a fountain. Lucy's excursion has been prompted by a rainy afternoon which has driven her to the piano and which has left her restless and dissatisfied. Venus, too, in the photograph Lucy buys, is depicted rising from the waves. • Water and blood, Neptune and Venus, are linked in the stream of red blood that emerges from the dying man's lips and mysteriously lands on Lucy's photographs of the naked Venus. • Venus spattered with blood is an appropriate symbolic extension of the violation of Lucy's naked but imprisoned self momentarily liberated: "She thought that she, as well as the dying man, had crossed some spiritual boundary" (p. 50). • When Lucy moves into "the lower darkness" as she enters the Piazza, she moves into the darkness, as if to be immersed in water => suggests dissolving boundaries and freeing the sensual and irrational self. • [Lucy's very name means "light" (lucia); The murder • The Narrative perspective is mainly that of Lucy’s. • The man bends towards he with ‘a look of interest’ as she perceives it –failing to understand the reason and she feels he has a message for her, then the trickle of blood streaming from his mouth reveals the truth of the situation. • It leads us to feel with vividness Lucy’s incomprehension, horror and sense of dislocation. • The casual spectacle, the trivial argument –her failure to understand the meaning of the murdered man’s looks. The repeated word: ‘what have I done’ to express her experience of fainting. • Here finally is the experience of Italy she has been waiting for – a true ‘adventure’ but it is more brutal and infinitely less amusing than she could have thought. • The reality and the mundanity of it is suggested in the detail ‘unshaven chin’ over which the blood flows. • There is a strange combination of the commonplace and the exceptional. Lucy’s exp and its inconsequentiality is expressed in the words ; ‘that was all.’ • YET the simple event is transformed when a ‘crowd rose from the dusk’ like an army of elemental souls rising from the depths to claim one of their own. – suggesting that Lucy’s exp has been with the fundamental of human existence. • In an odd and vivid slide of perception, the murdered Italian is replaced by George. Clearly there is a confrontation with death and love implied. • She retreats quickly when confronted by George – from ‘nothing ever happens to me’ to ‘what have I done’ – • Lucy is beginning to recognize an involvement and responsibility for her world. • She is no longer just a tourist but more of an ‘participant’ • The intrusion of reality into her world finds symbolic representation in the spattering of blood over her photographs. • Characteristic of Foster’s style – the theatrical effectiveness of combining the casual with the sensational and a careful rendering of multiple perceptions. Attempted Rejection of experience • After Lucy faints in the square, she absently pretends not to see the hand George holds out "to pull her up": her feigned indifference makes "the whole world [seem] pale and void of its original meaning," a ghostly and insubstantial parody of itself that is devoid of value (39). • It is a denial of reality and experience. • She also insists on him keeping silent – trying to appeal to his ‘chivalry’ Attempted Rejection of experience • Her willingness to set aside her experience can be seen in her acceptance of the photographs being washed away. • Yet the ‘music’ of the Arno – continues to play in her ear! Final thoughts: • The encounter=> is an initiation into the wonders and perils of passionate sexuality as well as cruelty and death. Lucy begins to feel this. • Lucy's choice after this scene is either to allow herself to be absorbed and transformed by the experience or to reject it, and for the greater part of the novel she chooses the latter option because of her fear of the messiness of blood, sexuality, and impractical passion. • In this encounter, in juxtapositioning architechure, statuary and murder, Foster put Lucy in the context that sets the works of civilization and art against the claims of passion and nature. This raises the Qn of art in the human E+ and the relationship betw art and life.