By Elizabeth Allen
An entire size research 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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Extra info for A Woman’s Place in the Novels of Henry James
At this level, men are never constrained to the same extent; even when given the disability of poverty, their social and economic potential is greater. And they are not dependent in the same way on their appearance or their value as objects to others- this value may exist without determining their fortunes in the same fundamental way, or even being in any sense universally recognised. James for instance recognised that the sense, the understanding, of how one is seen by the world is fundamental to women.
Older women inJ ames's work are often very much 'fixed' socially, and are linguistically and socially adept. Easily recognisable, they function both as social reference points and as interpreters of the social world to the subject of the novel's experience. 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.
I 3, p. 206). The problematic relationship of unorthodox or individual behaviour in a world of rigid structures thus becomes the problem of the subject onlooker- as I shall discuss in Chapter 3, in relation to Daisy Miller. The contained oppositions of the feminine can all serve to 'fix' a narrative morally. If representation creates morality because it necessitates contemplation of meaning, then not only did the pale purity of the New England maiden signify the virtue of puritanism, but her contrasting counterpart- the sensual dark lady- also provoked a moral dilemma for the observer.
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