By Elizabeth Allen
A whole size research of James' use of the "American lady" heroine in his novels, from Daisy Miller via Isabel Archer to Milly Theale and Maggie Verver.
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Additional info for A Woman’s Place in the Novels of Henry James
In his book The New England Girl, P. J. Eakin identifies a native tradition of a girl endowed with moral idealism and belief in self-culture, yet also with the Christian and feminine belief in self-renunciation. Eakin recognises the contradictions when he sums up the tradition he has been examining in Stowe, Hawthorne, Howells and James: Their fiction offers an anatomy of puritanism and of the reaction against it, the flood of romantic individualism and the flowering of transcendental idealism.
Maintaining the social structures they inhabit, they encourage marriage and objectification of the hesitant young girl. Much of the time, particularly in the stories,] ames uses women in a conventional way. U In Washington Square ( 188o), in which the lack of European contrast takes the edge off the 'American-ness' of the characters, the conventional expectations of the feminine are exposed as repressive in their inaptness and banality. Catherine Sloper is not an inadequate American girl, but an inadequate romantic maiden, fairytale princess or heiress.
And what is a hand? 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.