EXPLORE THE CONTRAST BETWEEN WINDY CORNER AND MRS VYSE'S 'WELL APPOINTED FLAT.' HOW DOES OUR KNOWLEDGE OF THESE ENVIRONMENTS PREPARE US FOR THE CONFLICT IN THE NOVEL.
The first comparison to be drawn between the two environs is of their names. This is the first piece of information the reader is given, and is therefore of significance, as they have different connotations. "Windy Corner" has links to nature and the weather due to the word 'windy.' It implies change and movement-which is definitely applicable to that household. The 'Corner' suggests a sheltered resting-place, which is quite appropriate because the household does seem somewhat removed or protected from society. This is in stark contrast to Mrs Vyse's flat. The fact that she has ownership of it, rather than Cecil, suggests that this is her dominion, and as a result is the dominant one in their relationship. The word 'flat' sounds cold, empty and static, as opposed to the vibrancy of Windy Corner. Forster's comment that it is 'well-appointed,' is another of his satirical observations, and this leads us to believe that perhaps it does not have such high standards after all.
The physical interiors are just as different as their appointed names. Mrs Vyse's flat is not described in too much detail, but just enough so that the reader has a clear picture of it in our minds. As mentioned above, the flat is proved not to have such high standards when Mrs Honeychurch reveals that there is a "thick layer of flue under the beds." It is not a very pleasant place, as we see when "darkness enveloped the flat." By contrast, there is so much light at Windy Corner that the curtains "had been pulled to meet" in order to protect the furniture. Light is associated with goodness, truth and honesty, and it is quite significant that this is missing from Mrs Vyse's flat. Both homes have a piano, but the purpose for it appears to be quite different. In the flat, Lucy plays both Schumann and Beethoven, whereas at Windy Corner, it is lucky to stay in one piece, "you needn't kick the piano!" (pg 104) The piano is not taken as seriously at Windy Corner, which is another indication of their easy-going attitude.
The different environments also help us to find out about the characters of Lucy and Cecil. When they are introduced to their partner's homes, the reader gets fresh a insight into their characters. Cecil is discontented with the "bone and maple's furniture" because from his point of view, they do not 'fit' together. He also considers what could be done to make the drawing room more "distinctive." As soon as he arrives he begins to find fault with Windy Corner, and it is quite clear that he does not fit in, especially with the game of 'bumblepuppy.' When Lucy is brought to the flat she saw that "her London career would estrange her a little from all that she had loved in the past." In fact, being in London has a negative effect on Lucy, which manifests itself in the form of a "nightmare." When Cecil is introduced to Windy Corner, he wants to change it, but when Lucy goes to the flat she is changed. Mrs Vyse's intention is to "make Lucy one of us." This is similar to Cecil's view of her, as if she is a piece of clay that he can mould.
There are several conflicting issues that arise due to the differences between the two environs. The most obvious and broad conflict is that of town versus country. Lucy sees London as a "deserted metropolis," but the area in which Windy Corner is situated is described by Forster as if the "spirit of youth dwelt in it." As Windy Corner is situated in the country, it has the connotations of nature, openness, and freedom. However, the flat is in the city, and is associated with activity and being enclosed. Although there are many people in the city, one can easily feel isolated, which is why Lucy describes it as "deserted." There is a conflict of taste in the novel at this point. Cecil fails to see the domestic taste of Windy Corner, yet ironically his own home appears to be kept "abominably," (from Mrs Honeychurch's point of view). There is also the conflict of truth. Mrs Vyse's "personalityÃ¢ÂÂ¦had been swamped by London," so she does not appear as her true self, and "even with Cecil she was mechanical." This falseness permeates through her flat, where it is tidy on the surface, but has "flue" under the beds. This gives the flat and Mrs Vyse an added sense of superficiality. Windy Corner is more inclined to be messy, and with the mismatching furniture it gives it an air of honesty. They do not hide things, or pretend that their home is something that it is not. So while the flat is associated with falseness, the Corner is identified with sincerity.
Conflict from the novel stems partly from the difference between these two environments and what they symbolise. Windy Corner is full of activity, light, and by association truth and honesty, while the flat is static, dark, and therefore a negative influence on Lucy. The question posed by Freddy is an astute one: "suppose Lucy marries Cecil, would she live in a flat, or in the country?" Lucy must choose between the two, and because he reader would prefer her to live in the country, there is a conflict.