The Imagination of Disaster: Evil in the Fiction of Henry James

By J. A. Ward | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
The Consciousness of Evil

HENRY JAMES is a realist in fiction, one who conceives of his art as an end, not as a means, and whose effort is to dramatize life, to depict life, and to give form to life, not to present a religious or philosophic system. Evil is present in his fiction as it is embodied in concrete characters and situations and as the characters reflect upon these. James's concern with evil is a concern with an aspect of reality, and therefore it is dealt with imaginatively rather than theologically or moralistically.

It is a testimony to James's consistent artistic development that there is in his works a distinct movement toward detachment in his treatment of evil. Just as the villains of his early stories are simply conceived, so his own condemnation of them is unequivocal. In "Madame de Mauves" ( 1874), for example, James employs an almost primitive imagery of black and white to convey moral values. Likewise his admiration for the heroine, Euphemia Cleve, whose unflinching righteousness offends the modern reader, and his disapproval of the duplicity and adultery of Richard de Mauves, establish an absolute moral dualism (possibly qualified by the ambiguous ending of the story) that is characteristic of many of James's early pieces. In his more mature stories of the early period, however, James maintains a disinterested position through an ironic approach to his heroes and heroines: Christopher Newman and Isabel Archer meet evil through weakness of character as well as through unfortunate circumstances. James achieves full detachment in his middle period when he replaces the stage villainy of the Bellegardes and Osmond with the ambiguous characterizations of Mrs. Gereth, Rose Armiger, and Mrs. Brookenham.

The Other House ( 1896) reveals the shift in James's view of

-3-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Imagination of Disaster: Evil in the Fiction of Henry James
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Contents xi
  • Chapter One - the Consciousness of Evil 3
  • Chapter Two - Evil and the International Theme 18
  • Chapter Three - Evil in London 56
  • Chapter Four - Evil and the Major Phase 102
  • Chapter Five - the Last Tales: the Appalled Appalling 157
  • Conclusion 168
  • Notes 172
  • Index 183
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 185

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.