Female suffering in Henry James's novels

Lunkes-Cresson, Mariette (1996) Female suffering in Henry James's novels. MLitt(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
Download (4MB) | Preview
Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b1610229


I wish to investigate further the area of suffering which appears to be close to the heart of Henry James's psychological fiction. The reader, of course, wonders why add yet another study to all the bulk of Jamesian literature, the author being a great favourite with a host of critics and scholars year after year. The answer is that my concern is female suffering in James's novels, which has already been explored, but perhaps not too exhaustively. "I suspect it is the tragedies in life that arrest my attention more than the other things and say more to my imagination", James wrote in a letter to W.D. Howells, and it is the tragedies in women's lives that captured his emotions most. It is not my business to find out exactly why James was always more interested in women than in men in his private life and in his fiction, although he never married and did have lots of men friends as well. These are autobiographical elements that have been analyzed to the last possible detail by a more experienced pen than mine. It has also been pointed out often enough why it was the woman hero who best met the requirements of James's imagination. The novelist possessed an "extraordinary capacity for representing and identifying female consciousness'', states Ruth Bernard Yeazell in the latest Columbia Literary History of the United States. And as early as the chapters called "The Conquest of London 1876-81" in his biography does Leon Edel assume that "from now on the female protagonist took possession of the Jamesian scene". As to my modest object in this and the following chapters, it is to examine why Henry James created so many suffering heroines. However, I do not want my dissertation to be understood as merely written from a subjective feminine point of view, although no woman writer can totally avoid an honest and justified feminism. In his work Henry James and the Woman Business, Alfred Habegger presents interesting arguments about this topic, warning in his introduction that the views of some strong feminists of our time "seriously underestimate James's condescending view of women" and that they should not be "compromised by a need to rehabilitate James for feminism". The fact remains that the writer had a very obvious predilection for women characters, and in his major novels his heroines are suffering women. The following chapters are an attempt to enhance the understanding of their private and public tragedies. (Abstract shortened by ProQuest.).

Item Type: Thesis (MLitt(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts
Supervisor's Name: Supervisor, not known
Date of Award: 1996
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1996-71656
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 May 2019 13:58
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2022 12:52
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/71656

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year