By Elizabeth Allen
A whole size research of James' use of the "American woman" heroine in his novels, from Daisy Miller via Isabel Archer to Milly Theale and Maggie Verver.
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Additional resources for A Woman’s Place in the Novels of Henry James
James's requirements for a productive relation between the individual and the world are thus not only intelligence, but imagination and irony. 42 A Woman's Place in the Novels of Henry James The structures that James chose to explore these conflicts are many and varied. ) claim our property wherever we find it. 6 Yet he was conscious of his nationality in the approach he was to bring to his subject matter, and continued his letter: We must have something of our own- something distinctive and homogeneous- and I take it that we shall find it in our moral consciousness, our unprecedented spiritual lightness and vigour.
We see that the letter is more important than Hester, to the subjectivity of Dimmesdale, the village community, even the majority of Hawthorne's readers. Yet we also see her transforming and controlling the A, establishing a fragile social existence that is both forced on her and defined by her. Hester's return to New England to resume her penance states clearly the extent to which she can exist only within the society which defines and limits her. It is in resisting it that she becomes a free ranging, questioning subject, but those questions relate back to her society, she is formed by the world which makes her a 'general symbol'.
The very qualities themselves appeared meaningless when subordinated totally and effectively in marriage. Of course, this subordination was only the inescapable manifestation of what was in any case presentthe freedom of the American girl existed fundamentally for others, and not for herself. Her status as sign remained unchanged; as Harriet Martineau remarked, despite much indulgence the position of American women was really no better than in England. But it was the very obvious legal, social, and personal contradictions of the total submission of self in marriage for women that focussed the attention of those interested in the position of women at that time.
A Woman’s Place in the Novels of Henry James by Elizabeth Allen