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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/123456789/19080

Title: Historical Realism in Henry James’s Washington Square
Authors: Hasan Abdullah Al-Zubi
Keywords: James, historical realism, Washington Square, styles of money, fluid and rigid styles of behavior, agrarian America, industrial America, social change, social deception, nineteenth century American life.
Issue Date: 2001
Publisher: Mutah Journal for Study and Research
Abstract: This article situates James’s novel Washington Square in a cultural context. It explains that the paraphernalia of James’s realism in the novel explores the shifting values in nineteenth-century American life resulting from the change it had undergone after the Civil War from a land-oriented civilization to a one increasingly concerned with money and commerce. James explains in the novel the effect of this shift upon structuring the human relations of his characters. Being naïve and innocent of the new commercial life of corporate America, Catherine Sloper, the heroine in the novel, is displayed as an object of purchase transacted through the solid and fluid techniques of her father Dr. Sloper and the fortune-hunter Morris Townsend. The father, who was brought up in the old agrarian America, is confronted now by the commercial New York society and has to struggle for power against Townsend who seeks to better himself financially by gaining the affections of Dr. Sloper’s daughter. Both Dr. Sloper and Townsend try to dominate and possess Catherine who is viewed by her father as a dressed valuable object that attracts the attention of fortune-hunters. Sensing her weakness and commodity-like value, the father and Townsed exercise power over Catherine, disregarding her passions and interests. She stands silenced and frozen between the firm and scientific behavior of her father and the fluid and romantic adaptability of the fortune-hunter.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/123456789/19080
Appears in Collections:College of Arts

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