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George Emerson as a Symbol or a Human Being - Book Report/Review Example

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In the first version of the novel, George was an aesthetic prig; in the 'New Lucy' he was an ideal figure, a compound of noble peasant and Cambridge culture, killed off by his creator when he rode his bicycle into a tree in a storm; while in A Room with a View, he is a complex but negative figure, an imperfect product of his father's system of natural education, too passive to justify his final claim to Lucytoo weak to sustain his symbolic role as the embodiment of naturalism"
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George Emerson as a Symbol or a Human Being
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George Emerson as a Symbol or a Human Being

This paper would endeavor to show that the role played by George in the transformation of Lucy (which is the novel's central action) is rather passive and mostly have a symbolic bent; that the actual active agents of Lucy's transformation lie elsewhere and is distribute evenly among various other agencies; and that the symbolism that George is endowed with by the author stands in the way of his realization as a living breathing human being.
To begin with, throughout the novel, we find Mr. Emerson (George's father) functioning as the mouthpiece for his son. Thus the words and the initiatives that should have come from George for him to become a truly dynamic character and a justifiable symbol of the 'naturalism' that Forster upholds, comes not from him but from the mouth of Mr. Emerson. The original offer of 'a room with a view' that begins the novels dramatic as well as the symbolic action, for instance, is tendered towards Lucy Honeychurch and her elderly chaperone Miss Bartlett, not by George, but by Mr. Emerson. And interestingly with this begins Lucy's initiation into naturalness and spontaneity against conventions and genteel propriety as symbolized by the typical English residents and the cockney run pension in Italy. Lucy's second step towards enlightenment also happens at the behest of Mr. Emerson. At the Church, when Lucy shocked at Mr. Emerson's frank approach refuses his invitation of joining their tour, his repartee "underlines the thematic contrast between naturalness and convention" which happens to be the central premise of the novel:

'My dear,' said the old man gently, 'I think that you are repeating what you have heard older people say. You are pretending to be touchy; but you are not really. Stop being so tiresome, and tell me instead what part of the church you want to see.'

In fact Lucy's first introduction to the mysterious and melancholic George takes place through the agency of Mr. Emerson and it is through the old man's eyes that our heroine first sees George. He attempts to explain his son saying that George's trouble is that he is distressed that the "things of the universedon't fit". However, most important of all is perhaps, Mr. Emerson's direct appeal to Lucy to understand his son and not get confused by conventional viewpoints:

' "Let yourself go. Pull out from the depths those thoughts that you do not understand, and spread them out in the sunlight and know the meaning of them. By understanding George you may learn to understand yourself."

Here, in a few words, Mr. Emerson has summed up the entire action of the novel as well as the role George is to play in it. His part is essentially passive. He is to be understood, his symbolic significance is to be realized and only through this Lucy would find her release from the stunting conventions of Edwardian England. The novel is for all intents and purposes about Lucy and traces her journey and growth to become a better and fuller human being. George is merely a passive subject understanding whom this transformation is brought about.

The symbolic intent of the author in presenting George has been clear from the very outset when, affixed to the wall in George ... Read More
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