A Woman’s Place in the Novels of Henry James by Elizabeth Allen

By Elizabeth Allen

An entire size learn 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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Leaving it where it was, she treated it as a link between herself and dutiful goodness. 50 Yet the extent to which Clara is irrevocably sign, and the extent to which she would have to dislocate herself from social existence to resist this, is repressed. The appropriation of the marriage institution is resolved through the illusions of individual freedom of both men and women to make a free and equal marriage. In this, the resolution of The Egoist is similar to that of Middlemarch, where sexual energy is finally correlated with social order and harmony.

Thus marriage becomes a paradigm for the relinquishing of the illusion of free subjecthood and for submission to social existence as other, as woman. 26 A Woman's Place in the Novels of Henry James As material for study of these aspects of American and English nineteenth century culture, the novel has a particular suitability, in that it frequently took women and their sphere as its subject matter. Particularly in America, the popular fiction was written by and for women, but many English and American writers of novels which we identify as 'literature' (written by men and women) drew on the tradition of love, personal life and morality as material.

In his essay Woman and the Literary Text, John Goode outlines some distinctions between the kinds of writing on women being produced: Insofar as we become conscious not of an ideology trapped secretly 'inside' the text, but of the sense of ideology itself, motivating and shaping the representation, we are in the presence Woman in the Nineteenth Century 27 of a fictional coherence. 45 The demand for coherence and consistency which will inevitably dominate any writing with a specific ideological programme, will ensure that it either asks no questions, or represses some of them.

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