“Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” is a successful novel about the impact of WW2 on Greece and relationships that survive or fade away as love is tested to extreme limits. The novel follows Dr Iannis, a single parent who brings humour and history into the novel. His daughter, Pelagia, matures through the harsh reality of young naive love to love that is forbidden by society. The war is described through the eyes of a homosexual, who conveys ideal love but is only detested by society, which force him to have a future of complete suffering.
A Room with a View” is a social comedy, which concentrates on Lucy a young girl who experiences life and the meaning of love in Italy. She slowly falls for an unconventional George Emerson and learns to follow the power of her own heart. True love is depicted in both novels as a secret shared between the two characters, an enclosed experience from the society’s barriers and love that can only be repressed as something forbidden. True love is shared between Lucy and George in “A Room with a View”, a love that is repressed because George is of a lower class than Lucy.
It is wrong for Lucy to fall in love with George, because her cousin Charlotte Bartlett, who epitomizes high class, sees George and his father as, “ill-bred people”. She takes one look at their attire and concludes that the only reason the Emersons are being polite to them is, “he was probably trying to become acquainted with them before they got into the swim”. Since the Emersons do not look rich or well established, they are quickly judged and categorized as the “ill-bred people”.
Although Lucy is oblivious that her cousin, Charlotte, is being prejudice, she realizes that there is a division of people, “something quite different whose existence she had not realized before”. Since Lucy is unable to understand her cousin’s actions, she is left feeling confused and vulnerably obeying her cousin’s commands. Appearance is a good sign whether someone is “clever” in the society that Lucy is being influenced by Charlotte, that is why the Emersons are “left in the cold” since “he and his father did not do”. Thus, Lucy has only seen to “despise” the Emerson or “people” like them.
Lucy and George first communicate when she “takes refuge in her dignity” and joins the Emersons in a tour of a church. Forster shows the beginning of something new when George with “sombre satisfaction led the way” and Lucy already resists what she has seen her cousin do and follows George like a “child in school who had answered a question rightly”. Lucy is already breaking the barriers and letting the Emersons enjoy her company especially George. A man’s death brings George and Lucy closer together it allows them to reach each other over the barriers placed by society.
This is portrayed when George “looks across something” when the man died near a fountain, “the cries from the fountain had never ceased”, this symbolism of water represents new life as one old life dies, it portrays new beginnings. Since Lucy, “obeyed him” representing again barriers broken since there is no division or class felt amongst these two characters as they “cross some spiritual boundary”. The realization of how close they have become through the tragic shared experience sinks in Lucy as she begins to get nervous around George’s presence, “wings seemed to flutter inside her”.
Their unity is apparent in the language as “they refused” the taxi driver. Therefore, George comprehends that “it isn’t exactly that a man has died”, and is aware that they have touched each others souls across the barriers, however Lucy understands something has happened but not understanding denies it. This is shown through their actions as they both lean their elbows against the parapet of the embankment, “there is at times a magic in identity of position; it is one of the things that have suggested to us eternal comradeship. She moved her elbows before saying… “.
This shared experience takes place near the River Arno, again Forster has shown the link with water and Lucy and George gradually falling in love, which makes George confess that “he wants to live” making Lucy respond by “leaning her elbows on the parapet, she contemplated the River Arno, whose roar was suggesting some unexpected melody to her ears”. The use of the word “melody” and Lucy’s action of leaning on the parapet, signifies that Lucy is happy and like George has maybe found a reason to live which is a contrast to the Lucy at the start who “desired more” since “nothing” ever happened to her.
Lucy and George share their first private kiss in a beautiful countryside. This scene is very descriptive it begins with pastoral and religious imagery. Lucy suddenly falls down a steep slope of violets, “violets ran down in rivulets and streams and cataracts, irrigating the hillside blue”. The language expresses the baptism of Lucy emerging from new life as she falls in the violets, which are a metaphor of water “rivulets… streams… cataracts… irrigating… eddying… pools… azure”.
The religious symbolism of baptism makes the love shared between Lucy and George seem like fate and more meaningful a true love that has no barriers, the natural law seem to be on their side even if the society is not. This scene describes George as the “good man”, who sees Lucy amongst the violets and thinks profoundly and at length, “For a moment he contemplated her”. This shows his feelings as he describes Lucy as “one who had fallen out of heaven”. The love portrayed here is not sexual neither is it about passion and lust but it is exceptionally natural.
As George is about to kiss Lucy the “the bushes above them closed” this shows that they are enclosed from the outside world and special like their own secret, “he stepped quickly forward and kissed her”. This impulsive yet simple kiss symbolizes the most romantic scene as it expresses the innocence of the two characters. The kiss takes place surrounded by nature free from the artifice created by society that would otherwise prevent this kiss from happening.
The characters simply fall into place for the perfect kiss that portrays only love and not lust or passion and the simplicity as George kisses Lucy makes this a romantic scene. The romantic scene with George and Lucy is similar to that shared between Pelagia and Corelli. Pelagia lives in Greece who is at war with Italy and Corelli comes into her life as a soldier, an enemy of her country. Consequently, the love shared between the two characters is forbidden because society will call Pelagia “a collaborator, a Fascist’s whore and people will throw stones” at her.
Corelli comes to use the spare accommodation in the house of Pelagia and as the emotions run high because of war they slowly begin to fall in love by making each other laugh as a way of forgetting their differences, “with him she would always remembered that she laughed”. However, at first Pelagia did what was expected of her by society by hating Corelli, but soon this hate turned to frustration as the true emotions that are repressed emerges, “and I know that she hates me because she loves me”.
Their love transformed to a secret because Corelli, “loved her too much to jeopardize her happiness, and she in return had too much sense to throw her caution to the winds”. The romantic scene between Pelagia and Corelli when they share their first kiss is also set surrounded by nature. The language describes a calm sequence of physical love, “he took her hand gently in his hands, and touched at the tears with his lips”. This physical contact of love is lacking between Lucy and George but the similarity between the two novels is the authenticity of their actions, which portrays the love to be real.
Additionally, in the love scene Pelagia “gazed at him wonderingly”, just like George does to Lucy, which gives it a cinematic imagery. The scenery is described using pastoral imagery, “suddenly they found themselves, underneath the briars, in the sunset”, and again it is spontaneous actions like the romantic scene in “A Room with a View”. As they kiss, it is “infinitely enclosed” from the outside world and all barriers are broken. Pelagia and Corelli share “their first unpatriotic and secret kiss”, their love is presented as forbidden, and a risk it is not something they can do in the public.
In contrast to the romantic scene in “A Room with a View”, here it is more passionate and sexual, as they kiss each other, “hungry and desperate”. Therefore, the love is also sexual as well, which loses the innocence they share at the start. Similarly, new life is expressed between Corelli and Pelagia, “filled with light” as they embrace and combine as one, “they could not draw away from each other”. Hence, love is presented as new beginnings in a new life where it is not repressed.
This scene also has humour portrayed through the language, “their combined booty shamefully and accusingly” making this scene simple and not full of tension or emotions at the beginning, it is calm and breaks away from the reality that is around them like the war. Therefore, love is presented as an escape from the harsh reality of life almost like a comic relief in the novel. Although there are many similarities between the two romantic scenes there are obvious differences too.
For example, the love shared between Pelagia and Corelli is more physical and passionate which takes away any ideas of the characters having innocence. Whereas the simplicity between Lucy and George almost presents childish love of innocence. Another kind of love portrayed in both novels is parental love, which is presented through humour and through the language used by the characters. In the novel “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin”, the parental relationship between Dr Iannis and his daughter is strong, which changes as they face different situations.
Dr Iannis is a single parent who has experienced a lot in life choosing to become a doctor after feeling helpless as his wife died. Being a well-loved doctor in his village, Dr Iannis, shows his love towards his daughter, as a doctor would do to his patient. Pelagia as a daughter respects her father and her love is shown through her maturity and her admiration for her father in wanting to assume his role. The presentation of love between Dr Iannis and Pelagia is shown when the doctor lectures his daughter about falling in love with Corelli an enemy to their country.
As a father the doctor has a very candid way of thinking and does not have any misconceptions of his daughter, “Anyone, and especially a daughter, who could appear so virginal and sweet was quite obviously involved in mischief’s and misdemeanours”. The doctor shows his parental love by being honest with his daughter, “it has not escaped my notice, Pelagia, that you have fallen in love with the captain”. Yet as the doctor has good reason to lecture his daughter, he does not take it too seriously, “enjoying her discomfiture and deliberately heaping more coals upon it”.
This humour takes away the tension of the situation and revealing that the doctor is only lecturing his daughter to play the part as a father. However, in the language used Dr Iannis acts more of a doctor than a father does, “the diagnosis has been made and confirmed. We should be discussing the implications”. The language takes away the tension and the love is portrayed as humorous. Nevertheless, their actions prove that there is paternal love between them, “he leaned forward and took one of her hands… o typical of him to make her utterly indignant and then to deflate her with a gentle gesture”. Dr Iannis respects his daughter and points out the consequences of her actions but does not force her to do anything against her will. Therefore, the parental love is shown as respecting one another, “as one person to another”, and that is why Dr Iannis is not “shouting at you and forbidding everything, as a father should”. The parental love expressed in “A Room with a View” that shares similar qualities with Dr Iannis, is that between Mr Emerson and his son, George.
The Emersons being unconventional means that their relationship is also exceptional, since Mr Emerson is an eccentric character that believes, life is sometimes complicated because “the things of the universe won’t fit”. His effortless yet significant way of thinking is portrayed in George who believes to be kind to everyone, “improves our characters”. The influence Mr Emerson has on George is encouraging because it makes George show love towards his father out of respect, “but he is kind to people because he loves them”.
Like Dr Iannis, Mr Emerson instinctively knows that his child is “unhappy” since his love for children is apparent, “a baby is worth a dozen saints. And my baby’s worth the whole of Paradise, and as far as I can see he lives in Hell”. As a concerned father, he asks the help of Lucy, “I don’t require you to fall in love with my boy, but I do think you might try and understand him”. Mr Emerson repeatedly tells Lucy to “let yourself go” and “by understanding George you may learn to understand yourself.
It will be good for both of you”, his unconventional way of thinking portrays his love and understanding through experience and instead of telling his son off and forcing him, Mr Emerson lets nature take it’s course, “let us love one another and work and rejoice”. Mr Emerson wants Lucy to make George “think like us” because they both know the value of life, since Mr Emerson has loved his wife and Lucy has experience through her music however; George has nothing to portray his feelings through.
The love is presented as Mr Emerson tries to explain, “that by the side of the everlasting Why there is a Yes- a transitory Yes if you like, but a Yes”. He appears as a father figure also, “he touched her hand gently with his hand… she regarded him as a kind thing, but quite silly”. Mr Emerson is an amiable and remarkable father given that he lets his son be an individual by letting him explore love for himself without placing any barriers, “I taught him to trust in love… when love comes, that is the reality”.
Mr Emerson believes that through love, you can understand one another and once you have fallen in love with someone that “is the only person you will ever really understand”. This teaching has made George be different from the rest of society because before judging he tries to love and understand people. But this makes him quiet and withdrawn in the beginning of novel as the society does not believe in love and understanding one another without placing barriers and dividing people, they are as a result either “offended or frightened” by him.
Comparable to Dr Iannis, Mr Emerson knows the importance of life, since both lost the one woman they love, he finds it exceedingly imperative to make George “care to live” he does this by, “all my teaching of George has come down to this: beware of muddle”. Mr Emerson believes it wrong to confuse and over complicate life especially love because “a man has to pick up his functions as he goes along”. Forster has presented a strong willed and compassionate character of Mr Emerson, which conveys love whenever he speaks because he does so with passion and by having an important effect on his son and Lucy.
This is shown as Mr Emerson makes Lucy look into her soul, “yet as he spoke the darkness was withdrawn, veil after veil, and she saw to the bottom of her soul”. Mr Emerson’s words are also, like a pillar of strength for Lucy who leans on it in times of need of fatherly love, “how he managed to strengthen her, it was as if he made her see the whole of everything at once”. The love expressed between Lucy and Cecil is false because they both are forced together by society.
Cecil is in complete contrast to what Lucy is, since Cecil is artificial, “medieval like Gothic statue” and Lucy “doesn’t stand for medieval lady, who has rather an ideal to which she has bidden to lift her eyes when feeling serious”. Although to conventional people around Lucy, Cecil is ideal husband because he “is well connected”. However, Cecil thinks he has fallen in love with Lucy, but actually he has fallen for her outer beauty rather than seeing Lucy from the inside. This is shown when he relates Lucy to “a woman of Leonardo da Vinci’s”, a painting that will play its role to look beautiful at all times but will never be heard.
Cecil believes women should be the “shadow” in a marriage, the shadow of the husband. Cecil hated his and Lucy’s engagement party because he believes an engagement should be a “private matter” not with “old women smirking”. However, their engagement was actually seen as “spirit of generations had smiled through them, rejoicing in the engagement of Cecil and Lucy because it promised the continuance of life on earth”. However, Cecil is too narrow minded to see this and begins to become an “irritation”.
The contrast here is that Cecil likes to be in enclosed places, a room without a view, whereas Lucy is more of a free spirit who always keeps her windows open. Forster continually contrasts Cecil and Lucy, this is shown when Cecil talks about “nature – simplest of topics, he thought – lay around them”, but his description of nature is not from what he sees with his own eyes but is recollection of textbook knowledge. This is because as a character Forster has created Cecil wearing glasses this emphasis the fact that his vision is restricted for the reason that he is artificial.
This view is contrasted with Lucy’s, “nature – simplest topics, she thought – was around them”, she is portrayed as aesthetically natural since “she led the way” which is ironic to Cecil because he believes Lucy to be the shadow but instead he is shadowing behind her. Lucy realises that they are different because she whenever she thinks of Cecil “it’s always in a room”. The love scene between Cecil and Lucy, where they share their first kiss, is very mundane and almost formal like with no real emotion. Forster presents the language by using descriptive words like “inadequate… businesslike… failure” to convey Cecil’s actions.
Since Cecil asks Lucy before hand whether he could kiss her, this takes away any passion expected and there is no romance between the two characters. The kiss itself is rather humorous, because as Cecil kisses Lucy his “pince-nez” become dislodged between them and Cecil describes the kiss as a “failure”. Therefore, Cecil sees it as a duty to kiss Lucy and he also wishes it could have been more romantic. Cecil from reading in novels considers that “passion should believe itself irresistible”, thus he has learnt only from books that love should be romantic, as “any young man behind a counter would have done”.
This portrays him as so wrapped up in an idealistic world in books that he has forgotten to live and feel in the real world, interacting with real people, “people like Cecil are all right so long as they keep to things like books but kill when they come to people”. Cecil believes that the ideal passionate kiss should be like, “he rushed up and took her in his arms, she rebuked him, permitted him and revered him after for his manliness” this is what a romantic scene between Lucy and George.
The love between Mandras and Pelagia is mainly sexual since they are together for the wrong reasons; similarly like Cecil and Lucy, they both have nothing in common as its typical, conventional teenage love. Their love is idealistic and mainly infatuation portrayed through the structure as stream of consciousness split with Pelagia’s views and Mandras’ views on their relationship. Pelagia’s views are mainly of erotic love, “when he kisses me I want to reach round him and take a buttock in each hand”; there is no romance or passion but mainly physical attraction.
She also has doubts about whether Mandras is right for her, “he’s not a serious fellow, and it gives me doubts”. These doubts are continuous as she finds faults in Mandras and she almost feels regret, “too young and full of impulses”. There is hardly any romance since Pelagia feels very little love for Mandras, “she imagined Mandras had died… she also felt relief”. Whenever Mandras thinks of Pelagia, she is associated with cooking, this portrays that he wants an ideal wife, something that Pelagia is against. This shows lack of understanding for one another.
Consequently, Mandras claims that he is a serious man, which Pelagia had not realised “he’s not a serious fellow”, however Mandras has not realised that Pelagia is serious too, “I can’t see myself saying ‘Come on Pelagia, let’s talk about politics”. Hence, this is not real love since in the words of Mr Emerson, “when love comes, that is the reality… they will be the only person you will ever really understand”. Mandras also feels insecure with Pelagia since he thinks that Pelagia sees him as a “fool and an idiot”.
Unsurprisingly, Pelagia had “given up her passion for Mandras altogether” when he goes to war and time has taken it’s course and Pelagia soon realises that she does not “want him”. This is portrayed when Pelagia’s first patient is Mandras, who had come back from war looking very different from the Mandras she had known. Pelagia knows for definite that she does not love Mandras when she sees him, “his muscle was gone, and the skin hung about his bones in flaccid sheets”, his change in appearance and Pelagia falling out of what she thought was love, proves that there was only ever physical attraction.
However for Mandras he went through war thinking only of Pelagia and “I would have died a thousand times, but I had you before my eyes like a cross… it gave me courage and I fought for you more than I fought for Greece”. Nevertheless, Mandras only had an image of Pelagia, an image he thought he knew and understood well, an image he thought he loved, “unfortunately my dream of Pelagia was better than Pelagia herself”.
The one true and ideal love expressed in both novels is the only love that is never fully achieved at the end; a love never fulfilled because of society and that only leads to a tragedy. Ideal love is portrayed through Mr Emerson which is only ever talked about, “let us love one another and work and rejoice” however this is repressed by society because they are either “offended or frightened”. Nevertheless, it is represented by the Italian drivers, ” Phaethon, who for some time had been endeavouring to kiss Persephone, had just succeeded”.
However, this does not last when the very conventional priest, Mr Eager commands the “lovers to disentangle themselves”. Mr Emerson who believes “you can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it but you can never pull it out of you” declares that the “lovers on no account be separated, and patted them on the back to signify his approval”. However, the Italians are separated and Mr Eager is inclined to think it is “victory” but Mr Emerson sees this as the “defeat” since he believes they have “parted two people who were happy” and they have no rights over their “souls”.
Yet, this ideal love shared by Mr Emerson is quickly “frowned” at by the conventional people who dislike Mr Emerson because he “speaks out of his character”. The conventional people like Mr Eager fail to see what Mr Emerson means because they “shut ” their eyes expressing ignorance with limited view and thought. Ideal love shared between Lucy and George is never fully achieved at the end of the novel because Lucy has to “leave” her family, who have not “forgiven them” and were “disgusted” at the circumstances.
Similarly, in “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin”, ideal love is not fully achieved and leads to Carlo, a homosexual, to sacrifice his life because society has made him feel like an “alien within my own race”. Like George, Carlo has been “reduced to eternal and infinite silence” because he is unable to express his love, he feels like “someone who is the only person in the world that knows the truth and yet is forbidden to utter it”. For the reason that he, “Carlo Piero Guercio upon the Julia Division, fell in love with a young married corporal who accepted me as his best friend… is name was Francesco”. Carlo has to repress his love for a man because “I am detested as cancer when I am as purely flesh as any priest or doctor” even though his love is ideal, “love will make men dare to die for their beloved – love alone”; with this in mind, he joins the army, where his future is only death. Carlo’s love is represented as ideal because he “only wanted to be in love with Francesco” by protecting him at war and this love increased “by the thought that soon we might lose each other to a bullet”.
Although at the beginning Carlo admits that he “was attracted most of all to his face” this physical love slowly turns compassionate love, “I thanked God that I had been wounded and not Francesco”. As the harsh reality or war takes it’s toll on Francesco he unfortunately dies and Carlo “vowed that I would live for both of us”. This passion can only be seen as true love that in the words of Mr Emerson that “love is eternal”. This love “inspires” Carlo to carry on with life only soon to lose it to protect a man, Captain Corelli, who became a “source of optimism” for him.
But for Carlo this love is only felt as “shameful” as when the time came for the death of Corelli, Carlo stepped in front of him in the line of fire by the Germans and, “stood unbroken as one bullet after another burrowed like white-hot parasitic knives into the muscle of his chest”. Carlo sacrifices his life for someone he loved, he is portrayed as a sacrifilage figure like Jesus but the love is ironic because Carlo is gay. Overall, love is presented as ideal and natural but it is the society that the characters are influenced by that makes their love seem different.
The parental love is portrayed through humour in both novels as the single parent uses their own experience of life to teach the importance and value of love. The false love is the result of society’s barriers since Cecil and Lucy seemed conventional but it only lead to an artificial love. The ideal love is seen through sympathy because it is something that is rare in both novels since people who “shut” their eyes to the reality and learn to alienate people because they do not understand them despise it.