A Room With Absolutely No View Whatsoever

February 22, 2013 § 3 Comments

Bubbles 022113

Bust or blessing?

As I was making the transition from trace to Revit, it occurred to me that guest room number 7 (highlighted above) has zero windows. Eek! Is that even allowed? It certainly isn’t normal….

But as it turns out, there is such a thing as a windowless hotel room! Check out this capsule hotel in Japan for one extreme example:

The concept is spreading to Russia and the UK as well. NiteNite in Birmingham shows off their slightly larger but still windowless “cabins” here.

Translational relevance

Is there a reason to have a windowless guest room in the Pension Bertolini? It would be possible to add additional skylights, but this windowless thing is intriguing. And when you’re dealing with symbolic rooms and views, what better to signify a flat refusal to know oneself than a room with absolutely no view whatsoever?

Specific inspiration might be derived from the character of Cecil, whom Lucy associates with a drawing-room, sans view (99). (Another name note: Cecil means “blind.”) He deceives himself first in his love for Lucy. After calling off the engagement, she watches his retreat:

She watched him steal upstairs, while the shadows from the banisters passed over his face like the beat of wings. On the landing he paused, strong in his renunciation, and gave her a look of memorable beauty. For all his culture, Cecil was an ascetic at heart, and nothing in his love became him like the leaving of it. (162)

Cecil’s unbecoming love, exhibit A.

Prior to leaving,  Cecil thanks Lucy for showing him his true self (a person incapable of intimacy)—but the lesson seems lost on him. While Lucy later contemplates the reception of her elopement with George, she remarks:

‘I wish, though, that Cecil had not turned so cynical about women. He has, for the second time, quite altered. Why will men have theories about women? I haven’t any about men.’ (194)

Not that you can blame him, of course…. But critics make a persuasive argument that Cecil, with or without realizing it—but certainly not admitting it to anyone, least of all himself—is gay. Mr. Beebe, who was “from rather profound reasons, somewhat chilly in his attitude towards the other sex, and preferred to be interested rather than enthralled”(31), seems suspicious of this, as Lucy’s brother recounts:

‘You know Mr. Beebe’s funny way, when you never quite know what he means. He said: “Mr. Vyse is an ideal bachelor.” I was very cute. I asked him what he meant. He said: “Oh, he’s like me—better detached.” I couldn’t make him say any more, but it set me to thinking.’ (80)

Yet here is Cecil at the end of the book, hating women instead of loving men.

But what say you? “Windows be damned?” Or, “Dear God, who in their right mind would sleep in a room with no windows!”

A little extra quoting

Mrs. Honeychurch accuses Freddy of disliking Cecil out of jealousy, after which this gem follows:

The explanation seemed plausible, and Freddy tried to accept it. But at the back of his brain there lurked a dim mistrust. Cecil praised one too much for being athletic. Was that it? Cecil made one talk in his way, instead of letting one talk in one’s own way. This tired one. Was that it? And Cecil was the kind of fellow who would never wear another fellow’s cap. Unaware of his own profundity, Freddy checked himself. He must be jealous, or he would not dislike a man for such foolish reasons. (80)

What can I say? I like it dry.

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§ 3 Responses to A Room With Absolutely No View Whatsoever

  • Practically speaking, you can market the room to travellers who may need to reset their clocks after crossing time zones. Of course, that has very little to do with the book. I’m not sure about equating the room to Cecil, though, since, if he is gay you could inadvertently make a less than becoming comment about gays’ lack of perspective/vision/openess/etc. (which may be true of those still in the closet, but this analogy seems to be getting off track). Instead of having a view-less room, what about creating a view (a rich mural or painting) or the illusion of a blocked view? I don’t know the book well enough to identify its narrative correlation, but I’m sure there is something in there that could justify either of these options! 🙂

  • Oh no! You’re right…I definitely don’t want to make a negative statement such as that. I do like the idea of an illusory view though. Cecil specifically is “wrapped up” with art and culture and is critical of Victorian society’s mores, yet he seems not to fully realize how restrained he is himself. He is able to see (and despise) social hypocrisy, and so thinks himself enlightened… but his judgmental outlook prevents him from appreciating the true beauty in life (personal connection and intimacy…not only like that shared by George and Lucy, but on a more humanistic/”blanket truth” kind of way…http://www.zimbio.com/watch/eTUyUuFdPbY/Blanket+Truth/I+Heart+Huckabees…can’t believe that’s “R”…how Victorian, hehe).

    It’s been said that Cecil is a representation of Forster himself (who was apparently very self-critical). Whereas Forster is sympathetic to those with flaws, however, Cecil is not. (And perhaps I am making Cecil out to seem worse than he is, for the reader certainly does sympathize with him.)

    Anywho, definitely need to consider how I frame this issue, and I’ll think on the illusory view and how that can be represented. I really appreciate the feedback!

  • Lorraine says:

    I’m interested in seeing what you do with this room. I’ve found when traveling that windowless rooms are usually cheaper to stay in, since most people object to staying in such a room – perhaps because they consider it a safety violation. Personally, as long as there is good ventilation/air flow and adequate lighting, I’m good, especially since I’m usually gone during the day – the only real time spent in the room is when I’m sleeping. Of course, my first choice is a room with a view and a balcony.

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