Washington Square Essay

856 words - 4 pages

Washington Square raises important human and moral issues. Discuss with reference to the social and historical context of the novella. Support your response with textual evidence.

Washington Square presents important human and moral themes that are relative to the novella’s historical and social context. The novella Washington Square is set in the early 20th century in New York and the social mores of this time are communicated throughout the novella. Social guidelines and unspoken social laws are shown by the interaction of the characters. The conventions of New York society in this era and illustrated in the narrative, highlighting three particular human and moral issues: dishonesty, ...view middle of the document...

By changing the way other characters see them, their ulterior motives remain unknown. After Catherine asks Morris not to despise her, and after Morris promises, James writes: “This was an easy promise to make, and Morris made it with fine effect. But for the moment he undertook nothing more onerous.” In the novella, there is much speculation that Morris is after Catherine’s fortune, the previous quote is an indicator that this theory is correct. This shows that Morris finds the promise to not despise Catherine quite a grueling task which is also indicative of his reluctance to marry her. James uses irony to portray Townsend’s ulterior objectives. Morris appears to be sincere in his promise, and Catherine is quick to believe him, but James gives readers insight into Morris’ real thoughts. He appears to love her, and acts as though these romantic feelings will be unremitting. The truth is, however, that Morris intends to leave her after discovering Catherine will be disinherited, but thoughts are masked by this false pretence and Catherine believes he is sincere in his promise. Further into the novella, Morris promises to see Catherine again, but, James writes “And he managed to get away and to close the door behind him.” This shows Morris’ true feelings toward seeing Catherine again. He made an empty promise and fully does not intend on following through with this commitment. James uses irony here again to show Morris’ real objective, and that was to be as far away from Catherine and her fantasies of love as humanly possible.

PERFIDY Characters in the novella Washington Square are...

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