Henry James Book Report Essay Research Paper
Henry James Book Report Essay, Research Paper
Henry James, book study
Henry James & # 8217 ; s The Portrait of a Lady and Edith Wharton & # 8217 ; s The House of Mirth examine the social restraints of their female supporters, and the limited possibilities open to them in the thick of affluent society. Isabel Archer and Lily Bart are victims of a stiff society in which the independent life style they desire is merely acceptable for adult females who are either & # 8216 ; unmarriageable & # 8217 ; or extremely affluent. Despite this commonalty, the two characters differ greatly in footings of their ends and the resources at their disposal with which these ends could potentially be accomplished. Lily and Isabel have similar possibilities open to them but a important difference between them is that Lily has no personal wealth, while Isabel becomes a really affluent adult female, which opens many new chances for her. Lily has fewer possibilities open to her due to her meagre income and her insatiate demand for inordinate luxury, which would necessitate to be sacrificed in order to keep an independent life style, while Isabel & # 8217 ; s wealth give her the option of a life style that is at the same time independent and epicurean.
Lily and Isabel are both highly attractive and charming, which cause them to hold more than one matrimony proposal from affluent and eligible unmarried mans. This option would relieve their fiscal concerns but would besides curtail their personal freedom. Isabel refuses the proposals of Casper Goodwood and Lord Warburton, because she does non desire to be person & # 8217 ; s married woman even though acquiring married would give her security and blessing of society. Lily, nevertheless, actively seeks out possible suers and uses her beauty to pull strings work forces and to win the esteem of her equals. To acquire married is considered a immature lady & # 8217 ; s responsibility and Lily is determined to carry through this responsibility. As Henrietta points out to Ralf: & # 8216 ; It & # 8217 ; s everyone & # 8217 ; s responsibility to acquire married & # 8216 ; ( The Portrait of a Lady, 110 ) . She is determined to happen a hubby and her lone standard seem to be that he be affluent and socially powerful even if she does non like him. She considers Percy Gryce to be deadening and unattractive but knows that the many advantages to & # 8216 ; get marrieding rich & # 8217 ; would far outweigh these minor letdowns and she does non see any other option. & # 8220 ; It was a hateful fate- but how flight from it? What pick had she? & # 8221 ; ( The House of Mirth, 24 ) . Isabel is determined non to acquire married and values her independency and freedom above luxury and societal credence and her wealth gives her the pick. For Lily luxury is something she merely refuses to populate without, and really considers her survival dependent upon it as the undermentioned lines clearly indicate: & # 8216 ; Inherited inclinations had combined with early preparation to do her the extremely specialised merchandise that she was: an being as helpless out of its narrow scope as a sea windflower torn from the stone ( The House of Mirth, 289 ) . Lily is cognizant of her ain selfish demand for societal position and wealth and these demands are satisfied merely every bit long as her affluent friends provide her with a life of easiness and gaiety. Once she is ostracized from the affluent society that she had so long been embraced by, matrimony or poorness seem to be her lone staying options. Isabel is besides expected to happen herself a rich hubby but one time she inherits a luck from her uncle her state of affairs instantly alters. She now has the option to stay single and still be affluent but Lily does non hold this advantage.
The possibility of staying single and independent is non a realistic option for Lily because she has neither the fiscal resources to care for herself nor the fiscal support of household and friends once they turn their dorsum on her. Isabel has both of these advantages every bit good as the love and regard of her household and friends. Sadly, to many of the people in her life Lily is simply a cosmetic object whose beauty and appeal make her a valuable plus to them: & # 8216 ; She felt herself of no more history among them than an expensive plaything in the custodies of a spoilt kid ( The House of Mirth, 231 ) . She is non wholly inculpable though for she allows them to handle her this manner and considers this intervention to be worth the benefits.
An obvious indicant of the contrast between these two characters is how otherwise each of them define & # 8217 ; success. & # 8217 ; When asked for her definition of success Lily answers: & # 8216 ; Why to acquire every bit much as one can out of life, I suppose. It & # 8217 ; s a comparative quality after all & # 8217 ; ( The House of Mirth, 64 ) . Lily respects success in footings of how much stuff wealth and pleasance one is able to acquire out of life. Isabel & # 8217 ; s definition of success is far more idealistic and non as selfish: & # 8220 ; It & # 8217 ; s to see some dream of one & # 8217 ; s youth come true & # 8221 ; ( The Portrait of a Lady,222 ) . These contrasting points of position demonstrate the different ends in life which each of them strive for. Lily & # 8217 ; s & # 8217 ; success & # 8217 ; relies upon the matrimony to a affluent adult male, which would let her to carry through her munificent gustatory sensations and her desire for increased societal position. For Isabel success is more simplistic and rings of vernal idealism and one & # 8217 ; s ability to carry through specific aspirations. Seldon & # 8217 ; s definition of success is & # 8216 ; personal freedom & # 8217 ; which he, as a adult male, can easy get and keep. Because he is a adult male he is non under the duty to happen a married woman. Lily recognizes the differentiation: & # 8216 ; Ah, theres the difference- a miss must, a adult male may if he chooses & # 8217 ; ( The House of Mirth,10 ) .
There is an inextricable connexion between money and personal freedom in both of these plants. In The Portrait of a Lady Isabel craves independency and personal freedom and at first her freshly acquired wealth make this possible but this wealth besides leads to her loss of freedom. Personal freedom does non come without a monetary value for Lily who must be hapless if she wants to stay independent. Interestingly, it is Isabel who chooses to acquire married even though it is no longer as necessary for her to make so one time she acquires personal wealth. Lily & # 8217 ; s most appealing option is to get married one of her rich admirerers because wealth would liberate her from concerns of money and the judgement of her friends, but she is non every bit eager to be married as she had so long perceived herself to be: & # 8221 ; She might hold married more than once- the conventional rich matrimony which she had been taught to see the exclusive terminal of existence- but when the chance came she had ever shrunk from it & # 8221 ; ( The House of Mirth, 150 ) .
Ironically, Isabel and Lily & # 8217 ; s desire for independency can merely be reached by accepting the picks, which they freely made. For Isabel that determination was to get married Osmond and for Lily it was her pick to stay single. In lodging with their picks, despite the unpleasant effects, they somehow feel that they are being independent. Isabel justifies her purposes of remaining with Osmond, despite her great unhappiness, with the undermentioned account: & # 8220 ; One must accept one & # 8217 ; s workss. I married him before all the universe ; I was absolutely free ; it was impossible to make anything more deliberate. One can & # 8217 ; t alter that manner & # 8221 ; ( The Portrait of a Lady, 521 ) .
The really appropriate metaphor of being trapped in a coop is besides mentioned in each of these novels but from two different angles, which serve to stress the coexisting differences and similarities between Lily and Isabel. The cardinal difference is that Isabel is caught and put into her coop by Osmond, while Lily is really self-conscious in footings of the coop, which she entered with wide-open eyes. She admires Sheldon & # 8217 ; s ability to come in the coop without acquiring trapped: & # 8216 ; .most of the prisoners were similar flies in a bottle, and holding one time flown in, could ne’er recover their freedom. It was Seldon & # 8217 ; s distiction that he had ne’er forgotten the manner out & # 8217 ; ( The House of Mirth, 51 ) . Ralf warns Isabel after he learns that she has decided to get married Gilbert Osmond: & # 8220 ; You & # 8217 ; re traveling to be put into a coop & # 8221 ; ( The Portrait of a Lady, 368 ) and of this danger Isabel is wholly unmindful. This is the really quandary from which he tried to protect her by giving her wealth and therefore & # 8216 ; freedom. & # 8217 ; Alternatively of his coveted consequence the heritage merely makes Isabel more vulnerable to people like Madame Merle and Gilbert Osmond who scheme to take her money and her freedom
off from her. Lily ponders ‘the great aureate coop in which they were all huddled for the rabble to goggle at’ ( The House of Mirth, 51 ) . Wharton emphasizes Lily’s consciousness in the undermentioned line: ‘How tempting the universe outside the coop appeared to Lily as she heard its door clank on her’ ( 51 ) ! Isabel is trapped because she has money and Lily is trapped because she does non. However, Isabel has fewer barriers to freedom than Lily does. Isabel can go forth Osmond and still be affluent, independent and loved by her household and friends. She has unconditioned love and trueness, which Lily does non hold. All that prevents Isabel from go forthing Osmond are Pansy and her honest feeling that she should accept duty for her free determination to get married Osmond. Lily must stay in her coop every bit long as she wants the advantages that go with it ; reasonably apparels, parties and mixing with high society. To get away she would necessitate to give up everything that she thinks is of import to her. Her state of affairs is similar to Isabel’s in that she feels obligated to stand by her picks as a agency of retaining her independency. Escape for Isabel would non affect as much personal forfeit.
The undermentioned quotation mark from The Portrait of a Lady is declarative of why matrimony is non ever the most appealing option for adult females for adult females every bit independent-minded as Lily and Isabel: & # 8216 ; A adult females has to alter a great trade to marry. & # 8217 ; ( The Portrait of a Lady, 601 ) Neither one of them is willing to do the necessary alterations even though Isabel finally gets married and Lily wants to. Isabel is much truer to herself than Lily is. Lily is a sort of societal chameleon who changes herself to accommodate to her milieus. She knows that she is merely valuable to her & # 8216 ; friends & # 8217 ; every bit long as she is utile to them. She accepts this function of a & # 8216 ; cosmetic object & # 8217 ; because she sees herself as holding small else to offer: & # 8216 ; She could non calculate herself as anyplace but in a drawing room, spreading elegance as a flower sheds perfume & # 8217 ; ( The House of Mirth, 96 ) . Isabel does non conceal herself from people the manner Lily does, which is perchance why her matrimony to Osmond does non work. He wants person who is more like Lily.
Lily and Isabel are each given the chance to get away from the personal snake pit, which they have created for themselves. Despite Lily & # 8217 ; s disaffection from the interior circle of affluent society, Rosedale still wants to get married her and so does George Dorset. Both offers would enable her to mount the societal ladder and fulfill her demand for luxury but she knows her bosom belongs to Seldon. She does non see being with him because he does non hold adequate money. Isabel feels really otherwise and does non care about societal position and stuff ownerships. She chooses to get married Osmond for the really ground that he does non hold wealth or societal position: & # 8221 ; no belongings, no rubric, no awards, no houses, nor lands, nor place, nor repute, nor superb properties of any kind. It & # 8217 ; s the entire absence of all these things that pleases me & # 8221 ; ( The Portrait of a Lady, 375 ) . She refuses to get married Lord Warburton because of the duties connected with being a rich adult male & # 8217 ; s married woman. Marrying Osmond defies the conventional outlooks of how an attractive and affluent immature adult female should take to pass her life. This is portion of the ground why he entreaties to her. For Lily a handsome and affluent Godhead would be the ideal suer but for Isabel he represents precisely what she wants to avoid. She does non desire to get married an & # 8216 ; establishment & # 8217 ; .
Lily is really tempted to take advantage of the chance to get away the on the job category, which she is now a portion of. She could hold immediate alleviation from all of her concerns if she agreed to get married Rosedale but she does non love him and is even repulsed by him. Isabel is besides given the chance to get away from her jobs when Casper Goodwood makes his concluding supplication for her to go his married woman. It is really alluring because she knows that she would be in control if she were to get married Casper. Any alternate seems better than returning to a loveless matrimony but Isabel decides to do the best of the life that she has created for herself. Lily efforts to make this besides but does non win.
There is one possibility which is unfastened to Lily which Isabel does non hold despite her wealth and that is to pass her life with person she loves and who loves her. Isabel thinks that she loves Osmond at first but realizes really rapidly that the adult male she is married to is wholly different from the adult male who proposed to her. She had thought that in get marrieding Osmond she would non be get marrieding an & # 8216 ; establishment & # 8217 ; and that she could carry through her responsibility to acquire married and still be independent. Alternatively, get marrieding Osmond strips her of all personal freedom: & # 8216 ; The existent offense, as she finally perceived, was her holding a head of her ain at all. Her head was to be his- attached to his ain like a little garden secret plan to a deer-park ( The Portrait of a Lady, 463 ) . Osmond admires her for her beauty and inventiveness but thinks she & # 8216 ; has excessively many ideas. & # 8221 ; Seldon & # 8217 ; s feelings for Lily are rather different. He does non desire to have her, as Osmond wants to have Isabelle. Lily besides loves Seldon but thinks he is unequal in footings of his deficiency of wealth and power.
Lily and Isabel & # 8217 ; s finding to retain their independency is finally self-defeating. They fail to recognize that it is within their power to do their lives better despite the obstructions they perceive to be standing in their manner. Isabel marries Osmond for the incorrect grounds merely as Lily does non do an attempt to be with Seldon for the incorrect grounds. For Lily, Seldon represents the freedom that she herself desires but as a adult female can ne’er hold. Isabel sees Ralf this manner as good and calls him an & # 8216 ; apostle of freedom & # 8217 ; . Lily measures her ego worth in footings of how beautiful and manipulative she can be. She considers herself to be a merchandise of her environment as a manner of partly switching the incrimination from her ain character. Seldon knows that Lily is superficial and ambitious but he besides sees her potency.
Isabel chooses non to go forth Osmond because her last lame appreciation at independency prevarications in the cognition that she is still her ain individual every bit long as she accepts duty for her actions. Lily Bart is besides determined to accept the effects of her errors. One manner in which she does this is by utilizing her little heritage to settle her debt with George Dorset even though she needs the money for her ain life disbursals. She does non desire to be under his control and the lone manner to avoid this is to pay him back.
There are a really limited figure of possibilities open to immature adult females who refuse to conform to society & # 8217 ; s ideals and outlooks of them. A adult female & # 8217 ; s hereafter is non her ain to make. Madame Merle puts it instead good when she says: & # 8221 ; A adult female, it seems to me, has no natural topographic point anyplace ; wherever she finds herself she has to stay on the surface and, more or less to creep & # 8221 ; ( The Portrait of a Lady, 217 ) . Unfortunately, this seems true for both Isabel and Lily, despite Isabel & # 8217 ; s advantage of wealth, merely because they are adult females. Isabel becomes trapped in a loveless matrimony and knows she is partly to fault for her ain wretchedness: & # 8221 ; Nothing was a pleasance to her now ; how could anything be a pleasance to a adult female who knew that she had thrown away her life? There was an ageless weight on her heart- ( The Portrait of a Lady,465 ) . Lily is besides suffering and & # 8216 ; feels the clasp of purdah at her bosom, the sense of being swept like a stray uprooted growing down the unheeding current of the old ages ( The House of Mirth, 306 ) . Like Isabel, she knows the function that she played in her ain sadness, and this cognition makes her bad lucks all the more intolerable. She is non a strong plenty individual to get by with life & # 8217 ; s adversities, and her intense demand for & # 8216 ; a brief bath of limbo & # 8217 ; due to miss of slumber and arrant emotional exhaustion lead to her ill-timed decease. Isabel is a much stronger individual than Lily and chooses to populate with the effects of her errors even if that means being suffering and unsated with her life. Both characters strive for independency, but finally the consequence of all their & # 8216 ; free & # 8217 ; picks, which they feel compelled to accept, take them to an necessarily tragic terminal.