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"A Call to the Blood": E.M. Forster's A Precursor to D.H. Lawrence'sLady

David McCracken Coker College

Room with a View as a Chatterley's Lover

There may not be any recorded evidence that D. H. Lawrence read E. M. Forster's 1908 novel, but the similarities between A

Room with a View and Lady Chatterley's Lover suggest that Lawrence must have been at least familiar with the works plot. Although the two writers address sexuality differently, the awaken-

ing of Lucy Honeychurch

is similar to that of Constance

Chatterley, and although Forster is not as explicit as his contempo-

rary, the theme of his novel relates closely to Lawrence's theory of "blood consciousness." Lawrence believed that the essence of each individual is located in the blood. In an essay entitled "Two Principles", he asserts that in the blood "we have our strongest self-knowledge, our most powerful conscience" (236). In "A Propos to Lady Chatterley's Lover," Lawrence adds that "the blood is the substance of the

soul, and of the deepest consciousness.

It is by blood that we are.

.J In the blood, knowing and being, or feeling, are one and

undivided" (349).

According to Lawrence, men and women are

charged with opposite nerve impulses which mystically attract and

repulse.

consciousness":

The connection between these impulses causes "blood

"There in the sexual passion the very blood

surges into communion, in the terrible sensual oneing. There all the darkness of the deeps, the primal flood, is perfected, as the two great waves of separated blood surge to consummation" ("Two Principles" 236). When two people have sexual intercourse, when

the bloods physically merge, the couple experiences overwhelming- ly strong spiritual sensations that Lawrence called "phallic con- sciousness." In a letter written in 1928, Lawrence describes Lady Chatterley's Lover as a "phallic" novel:

It is strictly a novel of the phallic consciousness as against the mental consciousness of today. For some things, you will probably dislike it: because you are still squeamish, and

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scared of the phallic reality. It is perfectly wholesome and normal, and [a] man and a woman. But I protest against its being labelled "sex." Sex is a mental reaction nowadays, and a hopelessly cerebral affair: and what I believe in is the true phallic consciousness. (qtd. in Huxley 721) Of course, readers considered Lawrence's novel pornographic, but the writer vehemently defended his work as a literary response against his culture's repression of normal human behavior. The rhetoric is not as obvious in A Room with a View, which

was published twenty years before Lady Chatterley's Lover, but Forster's message clearly anticipates Lawrence's radical ideology. Claude Summers argues that the eventual marriage of George and Lucy rebels against the established anarchy of the English upper- class: they create "a new chivalry, a new aristocracy of the spirit .Hthe kind] Forster hoped to find in all the nations and classes"

(90).

of this new social order:

Tony Brown believes that Lucy is the feminist representative

In its published version, A Room with a View ultimately cen ters, then, on Lucy's deciding between two versions of the relationship which should exist between a man and a woman in marriage, and, implicitly, between two versions of social organization. She ultimately rejects the hierarchical struc tures, both social and sexual, which are fundamental to the

"chivalric" code of her class, according to which the lady is

protected

Carpenterian

ship.

and treasured by the gentleman, in favour of a

vision of social equality and sexual comrade

(292)

Significantly, both Forster and Lawrence were deeply influenced by

Edward Carpenter's treatise Love Coming of Age.

Schneider (50-54) and Emile Delavenay (78-86) argue that Carpenter's theories provided the foundation on which Lawrence built his concept of blood consciousness. Brown points out that Forster and Carpenter both believed "men in their lust for material possessions have denied their emotional sensitivity and capacity for tenderness," the relations between the sexes cannot improve unless physical sexuality is seen as "pure and beautiful," and society can only heal itself when men and women can openly express their physical sexuality (282). Carpenter believed his culture refused to

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acknowledge sexuality as a basic need, and because of this, the population condemned sexual desire. Unfortunately, he claimed, this repression produced a sexual lust leading to prostitution and other unhealthy social practices. Carpenter's stance against sexual repression, particularly concerning women, is clearly illustrated in Lady Chatterley's Lover and A Room with a View. In Lawrence's novel, Clifford despises every aspect of physical union. To him, "sex was merely an accident, or an adjunct: one of the curious obsolete, organic processes which persisted in its own clumsiness, but was not really necessary" (9). He is the Victorian intellectual who "lives in his books" (17), leaving Constance a "half-virgin" (15) because he-being physically impo- tent--cannot satisfy her sexual needs. Cecil Vyse, Lucy's fiance, is described as medieval, "Like a Gothic statue. Tall and refined, .] Well educated, well endowed, and not deficient physically [but] he remained in the grip of a certain devil whom the modern world

knows as self-consciousness.

.] A Gothic statue implies celibacy,

just as a Greek statue implies fruition.

personify the sexual repression that Forster and Lawrence set out

to destroy.

are products of the aridity of their intellectual worlds. On the other hand, George and Mellors function as catalysts to

Lucy's and Constance's spiritual transformations. When the women first meet these men, they treat them as threats, as intrud-

(100).

Cecil and Clifford

Both characters are pedantic, selfish shells of men who

ers upon the established patterns of their lives.

Constance first

meets Mellors as he strolls down a lane (46) and Lucy first sees George while they are eating supper at the Pension Bertolini (8). However, both women sense that these men will disrupt their safe, routine lifestyles. Constance notices that Mellors emerged from the lane as "a swift menace" (46). Lucy does not react so intu- itively, but her fascination with the Emersons is partially a response to their alternative ideas. The two women do not feel the surge of blood conscious impulses until they notice the physical qualities of these men. Constance witnesses the gamekeeper wash- ing himself at his hut, and she encounters "in some curious way [. .] a visionary experience: it had hit her in the middle of her body.

.

.] Not the stuff of beauty, not even the body of beauty, but a

lambency, the warm, white flame of a single life, revealing itself in

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contours that one might tOuch: a body!" (68). Afterward,

Constance examines her own body in a mirror, renouncing the mental life for the physical (73). Constance and Mellors's subse- quent lovemaking illustrates graphically the phallic connection; Lucy and George's embraces are not described as explicitly. Instead, in A Room with a View, there is a more subtle portrayal of sexual awakening. Lucy's spiritual transformation occurs slowly. When the Italian falls at her feet, she is overwhelmed by the spontaneity of the inci- dent. When Lucy regains consciousness from fainting, she realizes that she "as well as the dying man, had crossed some spiritual boundary" (50). The blood on Lucy's pictures symbolize the awakening of blood consciousness inside her: Lucy must acknowl- edge that her image of the world based upon reason is being undercut by spontaneous reaction and raw instinct. When asked to throw the photos into the stream, George realizes that he will become the agent to accelerate this process. He even states, "For something tremendous has happened; I must face it without getting muddled. It isn't exactly that a man has died" (51). When Lucy returns to the Pension Bertolini, Beebe notices a change in her:

"Was there more in her frank beauty than met the eye-the power, perhaps, to evoke passions, good and bad, and to bring them speedily to fulfillment?" (65). Her passions are not truly evoked until she is kissed by George. When Forster attributes the names

Phaethon

ter" (72), he foreshadows

Lucy feel the "primordial tenderness" (Chatterley 187) that Constance feels with Mellors. In fact, the entire journey of the tourists to Fiesole is rhetorically significant. Mr. Eager and Mr. Emerson's argument about whether or not the lovers may remain together provides a synopsis of the Victorian and Romantic dialec-

tic to that point.

affection is indecent; Mr. Emerson honors it as special:

find happiness so often that we should turn it off the box when it

happens to sit there?

us

In the middle of the novel, the "view" refers to Lucy's spiritual clarity. Before this, not occupying a room with a view was associ-

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to the carriage driver and Persephone to his [quote] "sis-

the symbolic action which will make

Mr. Eager believes that the public display of

To be driven by lovers-A

"Do we

king might envy

.]" (73).

ated with not having a clear vision of the landscape. But now, when Lucy notes that "the view was forming at last" (79), view connotates an inner seeing, a mystical balance of the cerebral with the physical which enables her consciousness to react spontaneous- ly with the natural setting. This is quite similar to the effect Sherwood Forest has upon Constance: the environment around the gamekeeper's hut allows her to feel "passionate like a Bacchante, like a Bacchanal; fleeting through the woods" (144). Similarly, the Fiesole contains a "mysterious stillness" (124) for Lucy: "Light and beauty enveloped her. She had fallen on to a lit- tle open terrace, which was covered with violets from end to end. this terrace was the well-head, the primal source whence beauty

gushed out to water the earth" (79-80).

and "For a moment he contemplated her, as one who had fallen out of heaven. He saw radiant joy in her face, he saw the flowers beat against her dress in blue waves. The bushes above them closed. He stepped quickly forward and kissed her" (80).

There she meets George,

Appropriately,

on the way back to the Pension Bertolini,

"There was a general sense of groping and bewilderment Pan had

.]" (81). Lucy Honeychurch's sexuality has

been awakened, and keeping with Victorian standards, the best remedy for this is to pretend that it never occurred. At Windy Corner, which has "no view" (122), Lucy's decision to marry Cecil Vyse is obviously the backlash of her feelings for George. Lucy's relatives support the farcical engagement and fail to recognize the misdirection of her love. Mrs. Honeychurch even tells Cecil that Lucy "has learnt what it is to love: the greatest lesson, some people will tell you, that our earthly life provides" (108). However, Cecil and Lucy treat their engagement with indifference, and at times irritation (110-11); they have simply not felt, or will ever feel, the mystical attractive and repulsive impulses associated with true love.

been amongst them

Cecil believes that he is going to "rescue"

(126) Lucy from

Windy Corner. His family is wealthier than the Honeychurches and he believes himself superior to those around him. Fortunately, Lucy's experience with George has given her the strength to become more independent: "A rebel she was, but not the kind [Cecil] understood-a rebel who desired, not a wider

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dwelling-room, but equality beside the man she loved. For Italy was offering her the most priceless of all possessions-her own soul" (128). Lucy has felt the cerebral and the physical sensations of genuine passion, and as a result, she is now empowered to resist Cecil's acts of male dominance. This new attitude is clearly evi- dent when Cecil says that he believes the classes should intermarry, that he supports democracy, and Lucy clearly recognizes his insin- cerity (136). She is the only character who has the assertiveness to transcend class barriers. Being moderately wealthy, she falls in

love with a clerk and sheds the constraints applied by socio-eco- nomic mores, and her feelings for George are obvious after the famous pond scene: "That evening and all the night the water ran away. On the morrow the pool had shrunk to its old size and lost its glory. It had been a call to the blood and to the relaxed will, a passing benediction whose influence did not pass, a holiness, a

spell, a momentary

chalice for youth"

(153).

However, Lucy will not totally trust her instincts.

When

Charlotte visits Windy Corner, she seemingly becomes both Lucy's confidant and her betrayer. While confessing to Charlotte that George had kissed her, Lucy attempts to rationalize why it hap- pened: "Cecil said one day-and I thought it so profound-that there are two types of cads-the conscious and the unconscious. [. .] What I mean by subconscious is that Mr. Emerson lost his

. head. I fell into all those violets, and he was silly and surprised" (170). Lucy attempts to intellectualize the physical sensations that she and George both felt, and aggressively contends that George was not a "cad" just as she was not a "tart." Actually, she tries to define the experience by proper expressions of Victorian sexuality. Lucy and George's kiss was a natural reaction that occurred as a

conflict between private passion and public duty.

Constance tries to persuade herself that she loves Clifford. Lucy is thrown into a world of chaos after the second kiss with George:

Confused,

The contest lay not between love and duty. Perhaps there never is such a contest. It lay between the real and the pre .] Remembering that she was engaged to Cecil, she compelled herself to confused remembrances of George; he was nothing to her; he never had been anything; he had behaved abominably; she had never encouraged him. The

armour of falsehood is subtly wrought

out of darkness. (189)

When Lucy remembers the kiss, she "had to subdue a rush in her blood" (192), and in turn, George admits that he cannot ignore the uncontrollable impulses he feels when he is near her. Lucy rationalizes that she can control her passion, but Mr. Emerson (who may perhaps express Forster's own ideology) recog- nizes her self-deception. When she decides to leave Windy Corner for the romantic world of Italy, she is attempting to run away from her emotions. Mr. Emerson tells her that she is too "muddled"

(236) to run away, and he perceives that she is fleeing from the intuitive "view" (227) that George has opened into her conscious- ness. In the most philosophical part of the novel, Mr. Emerson persuades Lucy that she is in love with his son: "When love

comes, that is reality.

sanity" (230). He finally exclaims, "You love George!" (236). In words that hit Lucy "like waves from the open sea" (237), he

asserts that "love is of the body; not the body, but of the Ah! for a little directness to liberate your sou!!" (237). He instructs her to trust the "holiness of direct desire" (240), or in other words, to believe in the spontaneous instinctive impulses

] Passion does not blind.

.] Passion is

result of their attracting impulses. When Lucy seesGeorge again,

associated with her blood conscious reaction to George.

As Lucy

she remembers instinctively the feelings she had for him at the

responds to his advice, "as the darkness was withdrawn,

veil after

Piazza Signoria and at Fiesole. As luck would have it, Cecil's read-

veil,

.] she saw to the bottom of her soul" (235).

ing aloud of the "kiss" section, "the thing about the view" (185) in Lavish's Under the Loggia, only intensifies those sensations. During George's second kiss Lucy tries to defend herself, just as Constance attempts to ward off Mellors's rape (141), but her instinctive passion will not allow her to avoid the physical contact. Both women react by questioning their feelings, wrestling with the

In the last chapter of A Room with a View, Lucy's requests for George to kiss her body illustrate that after this "unveiling," when "all feelings grow to passions" (242), there is spiritual rebirth. In the conclusion of Lady Chatterley's Lover, Mellors sends Constance his famous letter advocating the "forked flame" (327) between them. He also argues that more people should believe in

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Pan, which compares to Forster's reference to the mythological

character

with a child created out of her and Mellors's love, out of their

phallic consciousness. At the end of A Room with a View, Lucy and George's sexual activity is not revealed, but the relaxed, physi- cal description of the scene and the reference that their room at the Pension Bertolini has a magnificent view imply that even if they have not reached phallic consciousness, they are not far from get-

ting there.

define this natural,

enwrapped

ed, love attained.

ous than this.

down the snows of winter into the Mediterranean"

in his novel.

More important,

Constance is pregnant

In the final paragraph

of the novel, Forster tries to

"Youth

but definitely mystical love:

them; the on~ of Phaethon announced

passion requit-

But they were conscious of a love more mysteri-

The song died away; they heard the river, bearing

(246).

In 1896, Edward Carpenter

argued that the mystical sensations

felt during sexual intercourse enable men and women to achieve cosmic harmony. In 1908, through George and Lucy, Forster described how two lovers break through social and cultural barri- ers to reach the threshold of this experience. Twenty years later,

through Mellors and Constance, Lawrence not only illustrated the actual experience of phallic consciousness, but he demonstrated how, in his own words, "Sex is the balance of male and female in the universe" ("A Propos" 332).

Works Cited

Brown, Tony. "Edward

Carpenter, Forster, and the Evolution of A

Room

with a View." English Literature in Transition (1880-

1920) 30.2 (1987):

279-300.

Carpenter, Edward. Love's Coming of Age. 1896. London: Swan

Sonnenschein,

1909.

Delavenay, Emile. D. H. Lawrence:

Formative Years (1885-1919).

Carbondale:

Forster, E. M.

The Man and His Work:

Trans. Katherine Delavenay.

The

Southern Illinois UP, 1972. A Room with a View. 1908. New York: Vintage,

1986.

Lawrence, D. H. "A Propos to Lady Chatterley's Lover." Lady Chatterley's Lover New York: Bantam, 1968. 329-60.

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Lady Chatterley'sLover. 1928. New York: Bantam, 1968. "Two Principles." Phoenix II: Uncollected,Unpublished,and Other Prose Works_byD. H. Lawrence. Ed. Warren Roberts and Harry Moore. New York: Viking, 1968.227-37. Summers,Claude. E. M. Forster.New York: Ungar, 1983.

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