Monday, December 20, 2010

Washington Square by Henry James

Washington Square published in 1881 is based on a real story told by a British actress, Fanny Kemble to Henry James and is a masterpiece of American realism.

Henry James was influenced by Balzac when writing the novel. Like in Eugénie Grandet, the heroine of Washington Square is a naive young girl who falls in love with a slicker suitor. The girl's father tries to rationalize the daughter that the suitor is an oppostunist and wants to marry her for her fortune. The girl is not capable to relinquish her attachment to the suitor and her father threatens to disinherit her and her life is effectively ruined.

Like Balzac, Henry James presents his characters completly "free creatures" separate from the manipulating hands of the writer. The passage of time covers a brief period but is followed by by the heroine's subsequent life, and he uses the dialogue sparingly.

Washington Square is a masterpiece since after reading we come close with the contrasting ways of manipulating life, and we see the heroine mature by the "clairvoyance of her passion".

No comments: