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Washington Square Essay

586 words - 3 pages

How does one deal with the torment of having to choose between two people she dearly loves? At what cost is such a decision made? These are the difficult struggles with which the protagonist of Henry James', "Washington Square" is faced. Catherine's character is portrayed as a plain, inept, lonely, and dependent girl, who is manipulated by the same people, which she holds closest to her. Only at the end of his tale does the author reveal to the reader what they have been waiting patiently to find out, the development of Catherine's character where she finally becomes her own person.Catherine's conflict is illustrated in the responsibility she feels toward her father, and the commitment to her lover, Morris ...view middle of the document...

Having such a large fragment of her life left empty, she feels it her duty to try and fill the void, succeeding at last by becoming an inevitable figure at all respectable entertainments.The author introduces us to a variety of themes, through which we are able to completely experience his novel. Loyalty is wonderfully brought across through Catherine's actions and attitudes, as one of the main themes in the story. An important transition is observed from Catherine's loyalty to her father, to that of her lover, which is revealed by her final refusal to give up her true love as requested by her father, ""¦her father's words had such an authority for her that her very thoughts were capable of obeying him. There was a dreadful ugliness in it, which seemed to glare at her through the interposing medium of her own feebler reason. Suddenly, however, she had an inspiration- she almost knew it to be an inspiration"¦ "˜If I don't marry before your death, I will not after'" (188) Her devotion to Morris is one of great proportions, even after being abandoned she remains faithful to the promise she made to herself of never marrying.The manner in which Henry James portrays the gradual progress made by Catherine in the search to find herself is remarkable. His exploration of the struggle between familial and romantic love brings something to the reader with which they are able to relate. Through his brilliant style of writing, we are able to see the main point of the book, which is that underneath Catherine's compliant and patient exterior is, harboured an individual will.

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