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Testo

A Room With a View by E.M.Forster
Summary:

It opens in an English boarding house in Florence with a confrontation between Lucy Honeychurch's chaperone Miss Bartlett, the arrogant Mr Emerson and his son George; the two men generously, but in Miss Bartlett's view, indecorously, offer to exchange rooms, in order to give the ladies a room with a view, a favour which they reluctantly accept. The novel describes the guests of the Pensione Bertolini, among them the clergyman Mr Beebe and the “original” lady novelist Miss Lavish, and their different reactions to Italy.
Lucy, an impressionable and artistic but immature girl, is disturbed first by witnessing a street murder, and then by an impulsive kiss from George Emerson during an excursion to Fiesole. Miss Bartlett removes Lucy from these dangers going to Rome, where they meet Cecil Wyse. When they return to Summer Street, in Surrey, Lucy becomes engaged to Cecil Vyse, whom Mr Beebe, who has reappeared as the local vicar, describes as “an ideal bachelor”. The Bertolini cast continues to reassemble as the Emersons move in the neighbourhood. Lucy comes to realize that she loves George, not Cecil (helped, unexpectedly, by Miss Bartlett). The novels ends again in the Pensione Bertolini, with George and Lucy on their honeymoon.

Analysis

In the book A Room With a View, Foster analyses conflict between social convention and passion: the English, in fact, after the kingdom of queen Victoria thought that was necessary to repress passion and control young girls. Lucy's love story with George, by social standards, is completely unacceptable, so Lucy have to fight these principles, many of which she has internalized, and learn to appreciate her own desires.
An other important theme is the beauty of human beings. Foster gently mocks the Honeychurches for their bourgeois habits, but he also celebrates their strengths. He, in the contrary, criticizes Cecil because he is too critical of people. He cannot appreciate the good in the simple country gentry with whom Lucy has grown up.
Opposites are played throughout the novel, and often there are mentions of "rooms" and "views". Characters and places associated with "rooms" are often 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 forward-thinking and modern character types.
Also, Forster stresses the symbolic differences between Italy and England. He idealized Italy as a place of freedom and sexual expression. While Lucy is in Italy her views of the world change dramatically, and scenes such as the murder in the piazza open her eyes to a world beyond her "protected life in Windy Corner".

Characters

Lucy Honeychurch - A young woman from Surrey who doesn't know what she wants. Her piano skills show that she has potential for great passions and the ability to recognize truth even if it means breaking the social codes that are expected of her. During the course of the book, she becomes a woman, choosing to follow the true instincts of love (as represented by George) over the boring falsities perpetuated by pretentious upper class society (as represented in Cecil).

Charlotte Bartlett - Lucy's older, poorer cousin, Charlotte accompanies Lucy to Italy as a chaperone, and attempts to defend what is "proper." She has old-fashioned notions and does not approve of the Emersons. She seems to conspire against the happiness of everyone with her exasperating manner, but in the end, she mysteriously assists Lucy to marry with George Emerson.

George Emerson - A young man with a passionate desire for truth and love, and at the beginning of the book, a strange apathy. Though he is of a lower social class, he falls in love with Lucy in Italy, and she becomes a symbol of hope to him in his search for joy and meaning. He encourages her not to marry Cecil and helps her to follow the true ways of her heart.

Mr. Emerson - Mr. Emerson constantly offends proper societal conventions with his abrupt manner of speaking and his evident honestly. An avid reader, he shows liberal values, and also plays a role in helping Lucy to surrender herself to her true desires even if it means violating social taboos.

Cecil Vyse - The dislikeable man who becomes Lucy's boyfriend for a short period of time. Cecil is pretentious and despises all the country people of Lucy's town, finding them unsophisticated and rough in comparison to the London society he is used to. He sees Lucy not for herself but as an abstract vision that he has about her. He treats people without kindness or respect.

Mrs. Honeychurch - Lucy's cheerful, talkative, good-natured, and warm-hearted mother, who always says what's on her mind. Her husband is dead.

Mr. Beebe - The rector in Lucy's town, a tactful and pleasant man who uses his influence to help various characters. He takes a liking to those who are honest, but sees the good in almost everyone. He supports Lucy all through the book until she decides to marry George, when he oddly turns against the idea.

Freddy - Lucy's younger brother, who is energetic and loves tennis, swimming, and the study of anatomy. He dislikes Cecil and likes George.

The author

Edward Morgan Forster was born on January 1, 1879, in London, into an upper middle class family. His father, an architect, died two years later, so Forster grew with his mother and his great aunt. These women influenced Forster for much of his life, and prejudiced his preference for strong female characters in his novels.
Forster graduated from King's College, Cambridge, in 1901 and resolved to follow his writing. He travelled in Italy and Greece with his mother, and worked as a tutor in Germany in 1905. In the same year he published his first novels, Where Angels Fear to Tread. The Longest Journey (1907) and A Room with a View (1908). Forster wrote the first half of A Room with a View during a stay in Italy with his mother. The novel shows his support for the new, liberal social behaviors of the Edwardian age, in contrast to the more sober ideals prevalent during Queen Victoria's reign. His critical views of people and their interactions marked him as a master of character and societal analysis. In 1910, his novel Howard's End was published to great public acclaim. A Passage to India (1924) was published in 1924, and is known as his most complex and mature work.
Throughout his life, Forster stressed the importance of individuality and good will, emphasizing his belief in humanity's potential for self-improvement. Forster became an active member of a movement of writers and thinkers known as the Bloomsbury Group, a number of intellectuals defined in part by their radical opposition to Victorian traditions and manners.
Cambridge offered Forster a fellowship in 1946, and he remained there until his death on June 7, 1970. He accepted an Order of Merit in 1969. Along with his novels, Forster also published short stories, essays, and the famous critical work, Aspects of the Novel. He also collaborated with Eric Crozier on the libretto to the opera Billy Budd, Sailor, composed by Benjamin Britten. His novel Maurice, about a homosexual man, was published, according to his wishes, after his death, in 1971.

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