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The Portrait of a Lady - H. James (Lorena Macias & Lorena Suarez)
Transcript of The Portrait of a Lady - H. James (Lorena Macias & Lorena Suarez)
The portrait of a Lady
Literary Realism is a method or form in fiction that provides a "slice of life", an accurate representation of reality
Henry James (1843-1916) born in New York city;
Father, Henry James Sr., one of the most wealthy intellectuals of the time;
British citizen in 1915;
Represented the American in Europe;
Fascinated by encounters between representatives of the New World, America, with members of the Old World, or Europe;
"The Portrait of a Lady", published as one volume in 1881;
greed, power, and the exploitation of the New World by the Old.
Isabel Archer is constructed as an independent and self-reliant young woman, paragon of the american spirit. Her contact with the old world
in her an inmost desire for the comfort, safety, and stability that social conventions guarantee.
Plot and Characters
New York, America 1860s
Plot and Characters
The impact of European culture on the American- of the Old world on the New World.
Isabel Archer is constructed as an independent and self-reliant young woman, paragon of the American spirit. Her contact with the old world awakens in her an inmost desire for the comfort, safety, and stability that social conventions guarantee.
INDIVIDUALISM AND SOCIAL CONVENTION in
HENRY JAMES' THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
The Portrait of a Lady
Plot and Characters
Novels and novelists
New Psychological Tenents
Represent LIFE with BEAUTY and TRUTH
Art --> organic
Reality --> myriad forms
Psychological Realism is interested in recording inwardness of experience. This means that there is a focus on interior landscapes, the inside of a character or characters minds
Thoughts are sometimes memories, "cinematic flickering" or retrospect. This means the narrative will flash backwards and forwards in time, focusing on the character's mind and memory, instead of daily journey
Novelists necessitate heavy imagery--images fuse with sound and sight, forming a perceptual experience.
No traditional story line
Readers are presented with character's consciousness and must move through the character's thought patterns and subconscious.
Use of stream of conscious technique
Motif of a quest--ceaseless becoming
Merging of past, present and future through sensory perception. The present loses its static nature and fades into additional levels of time. This forms what Virginia Wolf calls a "luminous halo."
Famous Psychological Realist authors:
Intricate novels that featured completely realized characters;
Remarkable ability to dispense with commentary or subjectivity within his narratives;
The reader sees the events through the eyes of the characters;
James the author makes himself as invisible as possible;
Prose style: simplicity and directness of his language ;
He aimed at a realism leavened by ideal elements, and ideal of joy, an ideal of delicacy;
No traditional story line.
Psychological Realism in the Novel:
- ... recording inwardness of experience. This means that there is a focus on interior landscapes, the inside of a character or characters minds;
- Novelists necessitate heavy imagery--images fuse with sound and sight, forming a perceptual experience.
Preface : "...at the top of the house near the passage leading off to San Zaccaria; the waterside life, the wondrous lagoon spread before me, and the ceaseless human chatter of Venice came in at my windows, to which I seem to myself to have been constantly driven, in the fruitless fidget of composition, as if to see whether, out in the blue channel, the ship of some right suggestion, of some better phrase of the next happy twist of my subject, the next true touch for my canvas..."
Chapter I: "...these are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea. (...) Real dusk would not arrive for many hours; but the flood of summer light had begun to ebb, the air had grown mellow, the shadows were long upon the smooth, dense surf. (...) The persons concerned in it were taking their pleasure quietly (...), shadows of an old man sitting in a deep wicker-chair near the low table on which the tea had been served, and of two younger men strolling to and fro, in desultory talk, in front of him."
Chapter II: "She [Isabel] remained standing where they had met, making no offer to advance or to speak to Mr. Touchett, and while she lingered near the threshold, slim and charming, her interlocutor wondered if she expected the old man to come and pay her his respects. American girls were used to a great deal of deference, and it had been intimated that this one had a high spirit. Indeed Ralph could see that in her face."
Chapter VI: "Her thoughts were a tangle of vague outlines which had never been corrected by the judgement of people speaking with authority. In matters of opinion she had had her own way (...)"
"England was a revelation to her, and she found herself as diverted as a child at a pantomime. (...) Gardencourt at once revealed a world and gratified a need."
Henry James´ techniques in the novel
- Intricate novels that featured completely realized characters;
- Remarkable ability to dispense with commentary or subjectivity within his narratives;
-The reader sees the events through the eyes of the characters;
-James the author makes himself as invisible as possible;
-Prose style: simplicity and directness of his language ;
-Aimed at a realism leavened by ideal elements, and ideal of joy, an ideal of delicacy
- No tradtional story line.
Chapter XL: "But as I say, it was not till the winter during which we lately renewed acquaintance with our heroine that the personage in question made again a continuous stay in Rome."
Chapter XLI: "She [Isabel] remained alone, looking at the fire, until, at the end of half an hour, her husband came in. He moved about a while in silence and then sat down; he looked at the fire like herself. But she now had transferred her eyes from the flickering flame in the chimney to Osmond's face, and she watched him while he kept his silence."
Chapter LIII: "Henrietta for a moment regarded her guest. "It must have been hellish," she then remarked. And Isabel didn't deny that it had been hellish. But she confined herself to answering Henrietta's questions, which was easy, as they were tolerably definite. For the present she offered her no new information.
Chapter LV: "He glared [Mr. Goodwood] at her a moment through the dusk, and the next instant she [Isabel] felt his arms about her and his lips on her own lips. His kiss was like white lightning, a flash that spread, and spread again, and stayed; and it was extraordinarily as if, while she took it, she felt each thing in his hard manhood that had least pleased her, each aggressive fact of his face, his figure, his presence, justified of its intense identity and made one with this act of possession. (...) But when the darkness returned she was free."
William James - (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910) was an American philosopher and psychologist who was trained as a physician. He was the first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States
THE GILDED AGE
. Fierce competition for wealth and power
• Exploitation and destruction of natural resources
• No fear of enemies overseas
• Rugged individualism
• Unrestrained and unashamed materialism
• Unchecked political and moral corruption (Kings of fortune, plutocracy)
• Science and inventions heralding a law of progress (science vs religion)
• Vulgarized and debased artistic and literary taste (middle class bad taste)
• Inversion of moral values: plain living and high thinking became high living and plain thinking.
"A Literary Realism that aims at the
representation of the realities of life"
• A scientific outlook upon life, sociological and psychological
. Cool impersonality, self-effacement
• Patient observation
• Facts: detailed, documentary, verifiable
• Materialistic interpretation of life
• Aimed at definiteness and solidity
• The local and familiar
• Contemporary life, everyday living however humdrum or sordid
• The use of commonplace or sub-normal characters
• The use of prose instead of verse as the prevailing medium, the novel becoming the typical form, instead of the lyric.
Famous Realist authors:
England, county manor of Gardencourt and London
How significant is the title of the novel?
A different kind of Individualism
Rugged individualism: “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost . Life was a struggle for existence, a scramble for wealth and power. (…) The rugged individualists of the Gilded Age were tough-minded men who proposed to deal with life realistically. In practice this largely meant (…) trickery, dishonesty, lying, bribery, stealing ”.
Individualism and Social Convention
Thoughts are sometimes memories, "cinematic flickering" or retrospect. This means the narrative will flash backwards and forwards in time, focusing on the character's mind and memory, instead of daily journey.
Motif of a quest--ceaseless becoming (the development of personality)
"Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea"
Chapter I, page 32: About her childhood memories while she was in the library before meeting her aunt: "On the other side, across the street, there was an old house that was called the Dutch House (...) It was occupied by a primary school for children (...) Isabel's chief recollection was that her hair was fastened with strange bedroomy combs at the temples and (...) having spent a single day in it [the Dutch House], she had protested against its laws and had been allowed to stay home..."
"Well, if you will be very good, and do everything I tell you I will take you there [Florence]" Mrs. Touchett declared.
"Do everything you tell me? I don't think I can promise that." [Isabel replied]
Chapter IV, page 39: Flashbacks: The night before leaving for Europe, Isabel thinks that she has been lucky in life, she remembers her father, “… came gradually a host of images of the things she was leaving behind her. The years and hours of her life came back to her (…)she had been a fortunate person (…) her hansome, much-loved father…”
Chapter IV, page 39: The night before leaving for Europe, Isabel thinks that she has been lucky in life, she remembers her father, “… came gradually a host of images of the things she was leaving behind her. The years and hours of her life came back to her (…)she had been a fortunate person (…) her handsome, much-loved father…”
Isabel is young, beautiful, innocent, independent, intelligent, imaginative, self-assured. At the beginning of the novel she is very proud of her independence but, little by little, she starts showing a desire to fit in. Example: in chapter 8, when Isabel and Mrs. Touchett argue about Isabel staying up talking to Ralph and Lord Warburton.
She begins to become aware of social conventions in England:
Chapter VIII, page 66: "Young girls here, in decent houses, don't sit alone with gentlemen late at night" [Mrs. Touchett] -"You were very right to tell me then (...) I don't understand it but I'm very glad to know it." -"I shall always tell you (...)whenever I see you taking what seems to me too much liberty" [Mrs. Touchet] -"Pray do; but I don't say I shall always think your remonstrance just" (...) I'm very fond of [my own ways]. But I always want to know the things one shouldn't do (...) so as to choose" [Isabel]
Attraction to sedate and conventional life
: when she visits Lord Warburton's manor house; and when she meets his sisters. "I think it is lovely to be so quiet and reasonable and satisfied. I should like to be like that"
Chapter XII, page 102: When Isabel refuses Warburton's proposal: “If she wouldn’t do such a thing as that [marring Lord Warburton]then she must do greater things, she must do something greater”
The episode when Caspar proposes to Isabel is not narrated in the novel and the reader gets to know about this event through the character's allusions to it. (Chapter XVI)
Isabel's engagement to Osmond and their wedding; the birth and death of Isabel's baby are instances that James decides not to narrate. (from chapter XXIII - XXVI)
Chapter VI, page 56: After some thought about her independence and marriage. "She was always planning out her development, desiring her perfection, observing her progress.(...) She always returned to her theory that a young woman (...) should begin by getting a general impression of life. This impression was necessary to prevent mistakes..."
"More than anything else, it was her inability to publish her mistake to the world that stopped her from suing for divorce. It was in this sense that she had been ground in the very mill of the conventional" (Daniel Shaw, Isabel Archer: Tragic Protagonist or Pitiable Victim.)
These last words are uttered by Ralph before he dies (p.478).
She takes her vows to her marriage too seriously considering that marriage is a social convention.