Heartbreaking glimpse of the dynamic between a cruel father and his dependent daughter, Washington Square is a great short story however, it is so melancholy I have never reread it because I can never forgive or forget the despotic, mental barbarity of her father. Catherine Sloper doesn t strike us as a representative heroine This novel has definitely expressive and memorable protagonists but it is Catherine who, of all residents of the house at Washington Square, draws my attention Though she is neither pretty nor smart she is gentle and kind and painfully shy Just before Washington Square I read Daisy Miller and now I simply can t help comparing the main heroines Where Daisy is coquettish and reckless Catherine remains modest and immovable Where Daisy fancies for romantic adventure Catherine has her feet firmly on the ground When the first shines and dazzles us with her beauty the other is plain and dull Or so we were told Unlike Daisy Catherine does not want to shine, she does not demand our constant attention And though both like nice dresses unfortunately Miss Sloper s taste leaves a lot to be desired So where Daisy looked lovely and dazzling Catherine appeared old and rather ridiculous Had only Daisy had a bit of Catherine s common sense Or the other way round what if Catherine was flirtatious in the image of Daisy Miller Catherine, who was extremely modest, had no desire to shine, and on most social occasions, as they are called, you would have found her lurking in the background.Catherine, being respectful and dutiful daughter, is nonetheless a great disappointment to her father She has neither beauty of her late mother neither wit of her father Her days go on knitting, keeping house, visiting relatives and attempting at all cost to please her father Doctor Sloper is remarkable figure He s a brilliant man, renown doctor and he flatters himself being an expert in reading people He has neither good opinion on his sister Lavinia nor his daughter In his estimation Lavinia waslike a revolving lighthouse pitch darkness alternating with a dazzling brilliancyAnd about Catherine he used to think she is about as intelligent as the bundle of shawls her main superiority being that while the bundle of shawls sometimes got lost, or tumbled out of the carriage, Catherine was always at her post, and had a firm and ample seat.As one can see Catherine has not an easy life She is a victim of cruel remarks of her brilliant father who does not miss any opportunity, any neat bon mot, any snide comment, even if it would hurt her feelings And his remarks can cut to the quick, really She is a victim of her foolish aunt Lavinia whose unbridled appetite for love affair and secret romance makes her push Catherine into the hands of fortune hunter She is a victim of a handsome con man who made her to believe she was loved and wanted because of herself not her money Finally, she is a victim of own good character and just awakened heart.But I do not see a victim in her at all I see a woman whose way to independence and self determination is long and bumpy, I see a woman whom any humiliation and disappointment will not be spared, I see a woman who is fed up with being constantly send to the corner.Catherine loves her father dearly but at the same time she s afraid of him But it lasts until it dawns to her that father doesn t love her, that he doesn t see his daughter as an independent, self reliant person, that he denies her right to own opinion and choices, that even her act of rebellion is to him a kind of entertainment and he only thinks that his dull daughter had, after all, the guts to stand up to him, that Catherine wasn t to him a partner at all And once becoming aware of that fact she s free She can acknowledge finally the fact that Maurice had trifled with her devotion She can see that aunt Lavinia eased him the task And recognition of that liberates her From her own point of view the great facts of her career were that Morris Townsend had trifled with her affection, and that her father had broken its spring Nothing could ever alter these facts they were always there, like her name, her age, her plain face Nothing could ever undo the wrong or cure the pain that Morris had inflicted on her, and nothing could ever make her feel towards her father as she felt in her younger years There was something dead in her life, and her duty was to try and fill the void.I liked her loyalty and raw honesty, her defiance and stubbornness to make her point, her silent opposition to her upbringing, to her father Doctor Sloper says at one point of Catherine not being scenic Poor Doctor, he couldn t be wrong And after all he deserved that little revenge from her hand in the end Everyone used to see Catherine as poor thing They couldn t be wrong either And the fact that Doctor saw through Maurice from the beginning and despite that failed I found highly ironic.After reading the last passage of the novel I couldn t help but smile when this image came to my mind Let s call it alternative review for Washington Square, though Catherine is too polite to express it that way But I can say it for her view spoiler hide spoiler On New York City S Washington Square Lives Catherine Sloper, A Shy And Plain Young Woman Who Is Tyrannized By Her Wealthy, Overbearing Father When Young Morris Townsend Begins To Court Her, Dr Sloper Distrusts His Motives, Believing That The Young Man Could Not Possibly Love His Daughter Both Lovers Are Obstinate In Their Affections But When Dr Sloper Threatens To Disinherit Catherine, Townsend Disappears, Leaving Catherine To Humiliation, Heartache, And Lonely Spinsterhood Years Later, After Her Father S Death, Townsend Returns, And Catherine Must Make Up Her Own Mind About His Intentions Time the late 1840 s, in New York City, Catherine Sloper, a twenty one year old woman, is the daughter of a prominent and wealthy doctor, you d think all the young men would be trying to marry her, but Catherine is plain of face and very shy There s a good probability, that she ll remain a spinster, till the end of her life Catherine adores her father, and is intimidated in his presence, a very intelligent man, Dr.Austin Sloper is The widower, invites his widowed , and emotional sister Lavinia, her penniless clergyman husband left no money, to stay at the Washington Square mansion, recently built by the sad physician he couldn t save his beloved wife and son A nice quiet neighborhood, by the pretty park Everything changes, this peaceful situation, when Catherine meets Mr.Morris Townsend, a beautiful man as she thinks, at her cousin s engagement party Morris dances with the tongue tied girl, Catherine, she falls hard for him But Townsend is lazy, an idler who lives with his sister, a widow, Mrs.Montgomery and five children medicine must have been very primitive back then Morris the desperate sponger, pays close attention to Miss Sloper, talking to her enthusiastically , she doesn t say a word The suspicious but busy father has reservations about Morris, what does he want with his daughter It s apparent to everyone elsepoor boy wants to marry rich girl, for her money Aunt Lavinia is a romantic, has read too many of those type of books, and helps the young couple in their courtship The aunt imagines that she is the main character, in one of the novels she loves This foolish woman, brought there as a companion for Catherine, causes much turmoil in the household Mr.Sloper has to save his daughter from this evil man Townsend or he fears Morris will ruin her, spending all his money and treating Catherine badly Nevertheless does a lonely girl have the right to take a chance on love No matter how dubious the prospect isCan a little happiness be worth all the headaches, that will inevitably follow, or does she live the rest of her days by herself, comfortable but bored.existing and nothing Dr Sloper takes Catherine to Europe, for a six month Grand Tour, that turns into a year, seeing the glories of the past, but in the future, will his daughter forget her beau One of the best books from Henry James, very accessible to the reader, unlike later novels, his prose and narrative are clear and not convoluted. Book Review4 out of 5 stars for Washington Square, a classic novel written in 1880 by Henry James Henry James is my favorite American realistic period or classic novelist, and Washington Square is an example of why This man can take a small situation and write 300 pages all about it And this is one of his shorter books In this classic, the tale of the average woman, who is set to inherit a large sum of money, meets dashing man but of course, he s only after her money She s considered plain looking He s considered ruthless They couldn t possibly be in love And as you follow the course of their romance, you see what couples and relationships go through during the courting period at least as it was 150 years ago James is not shy when it comes to providing detailed descriptions of feelings and actions You read his words as though you are in your head, thinking about choices and decisions for hours, then acting on them This is a very direct story commentary on the normal every day live, the differences between classes, the way in which women must act to find a husband, the efforts men go to so they can be free, the attitudes of society towards older women or those who are not considered great beauties When you step away from this book, hopefully not too frustrated at the story being so basic and calm, you realize it s a reflection on reality on what actually was happening at the time Who would accept it today Who would tolerate being treated in such a manner And where do you go when you end up a bit hopeless Stories like this aren t common nowadays, at least in this form But when you put yourself into the time period, this is a true treasureAbout MeFor those new to me or my reviews here s the scoop I read A LOT I write A LOT And now I blog A LOT First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at where you ll also find TV Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I ve visited all over the world And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who what when where and my pictures Leave a comment and let me know what you think Vote in the poll and ratings Thanks for stopping by. Henry James is Gangnam styleGangnam styleCatherine Sloper is warm and humanle during the dayA classy girl who know how to enjoy the freedom of a cup of coffeeA girl whose heart gets hotter when night comesA girl with that kind of twistI m a guy called Morris TownsendA guy who is as warm as you during the dayA guy who one shots his coffee before it even cools downA guy whose heart bursts when night comesThat kind of guyBeautiful, loveableYes you, Catherine Sloper, yes you, heyBeautiful, loveableYes you, hey, yes you, heyNow let s go until the endI don t want your money Catherine SloperI don t want your money Catherine SloperNo, yeah, no,yeahI want youMorris Townsend, gangnam styleHenry James is Gangnam style, Gangnam styleHenry James is Gangnam style, Gangnam styleEh Sexy Lady, Henry James is Gangnam styleEh Sexy Lady oh oh oh ohCatherine Sloper looks quiet but plays bridgeShe puts her hair down when the right time comesShe covers herself but is sexy than a girl who bares it allA sensile girl like thatI m a guy called Morris TownsendI said it once now I say it againA guy who seems calm but plays when he playsA guy who goes completely crazy when the right time comesA guy who has bulging ideas rather than musclesThat kind of guyOn top of the running man is the flying man, baby babyOh oh, the daddy is the flying man babyDr Austin Sloper, a wealthy and highly successful physicianYou know what I mean babyYou know what I m saying babyParasitic spendthrift, oh no noParasitic spendthrift, oh no noParasitic spendthrift, oh no noParasitic spendthrift, oh no noFat, balding, cold eyed, but still somewhat attractiveFat, balding, cold eyed, but still somewhat attractiveFat, balding, cold eyed, but still somewhat attractiveYeah Watch out here comes the daddyBoo hoo gangnam styleBoo hoo gangnam styleHenry James is Gangnam style, Gangnam styleHenry James is Gangnam style, Gangnam style Here we are in New York City in the mid 1880 s, a bit before Edith Wharton s time, but in the same social milieu This is a kind of novel of manners, a mid 19th Century soap opera Our author is Henry James, so be prepared for the long, convoluted, comma and semicomma laden sentences akin to those of Jane Austen.Yet a fascinating book Catherine, or less our heroine, is plain, stolid, timid, obedient and, quite frankly, a bit on the dull side She lives in her father s house With her mother deceased, a widowed aunt is her caretaker and companion Catherine is in her late 20 s when a suitor finally appears a late age for that era Her suitor would be quite a catch for a gal like Catherine, so her father, a wealthy physician, immediately recognizes and so do we that he s after her inheritance Her father forbids the marriage and in that process we learn that he is vindictive, petty, tyrannical, bullying and wait there s something even worse he doesn t really even LIKE his daughter.The novel fast forwards in the final chapters so we get to see how it all works out decades in the future It s great writing it s Henry James after all A good book for those who have a taste for the oblique references and flowery style of writing from that era. My first completed book of the year and one that has totally altered my view of Henry James and his fiction Instead of being what I had thought of as the somber master of cold 19th century fiction, he is a man with sharp and perceptive humor, a clever sense of inequalities between sexes and in society My enlightenment is partially responsible for my rating, though I also enjoyed the novel The story is really quite simplewealthy father knows what is best for future heiress daughter Rogue suitor comes to town and captures her heart but does not pull the wool over daddy s eyes Silly Aunt plays go between and girl falls as deeply in love as a 19th century novel allows us to see But James does not stop there he provides so much by giving us asides filled will sarcastic, humorous digs at various characters, revealing deeper traits.In one exchange with his sister, Mrs Almond, Dr Sloper and she are discussing are discussing how the doctor will manage the situation You are shockingly cold blooded said Mrs Almond I need to be with all this hot blood about me Young Townsend, indeed, is cool I must allow him that merit p 144And later, James briefly summarizes three of the main actors Mrs Penniman, of the three persons in Washington Square, had much the most of the manner that belongs to a great crisis If Catherine was quiet, she was quietly quietIf the doctor was stiff and dry, and absolutely indifferent to the presence of his companions, it was so lightly, neatly, easily done,that you would have had to know him well to discover thathe enjoyed having to be so disagreeable But Mrs Penniman was elaborately reserved and significantly silent there was a richer rustle in the very deliberate movements to which she confined herself, and when she occasionally spoke, in connection with some very trivial event, she had the air of meaning something deeper than what she said p 152And, as a final, briefer selection describing Mrs Penniman once You leave him in good hands, she said, pressing her lips to Catherine s forehead She was fond of kissing people s foreheads it was an involuntary expression of sympathy with the intellectual part p 159I have perhaps fallen for the style than the story here but one adds to the other Certainly, I will seek out many of James novels in the future The intimidation of the past is gone Wonderful introduction for me as I ve only read A Turn of The Screw in the past. I love this book so much I can t bear it As someone who adores just about every last word that Henry James over wrote, it has never gotten any deliciously un satisfying than this a slim, tart little novel about plain, socially unpromising Catherine Sloper, whose wealthy father refuses to allow her to marry Morris Townsend, whom he believes to be mercenary No matter how many times I read this book, the question still nags at me Does Morris have any feeling at all for Catherine, or is he really just after her fortune But why is this even a question It s usually taken for granted that Morris is sketchily drawn, the standard handsome and callow fortune hunter of melodrama, and his own remarks to other characters in the novel seem to provide ample evidence I m not fully convinced of this, which isn t to say that he s fully drawn rather, I wonder if Morris Townsend might be a kind of failed stereotype, a failure of the novel to keep him in his appointed place If he s so successfully sketchy, then wouldn t the novel be redundant, and its central ambiguity unambiguous If that were so, then Washington Square would do little than encourage the reader s contemptuous pity for its heroine, whose tragedy would be utterly generic her inability to recognize her beloved s venal motives That would be straight up melodrama, or mean spirited satire That wouldn t be Henry James.The tragedy of the novel depends, though, on Catherine s father, Dr Sloper, one of James s most stunning and indelible creations The man despises his daughter, yet wants to protect her he sees through Morris s dandyish charm, yet is most offended by the idea that his awkward, unlovely daughter would win herself such a handsome, charming husband His opposition to the match may be, on the one hand, patriarchal duty, but it is no less an act of cold blooded cruelty, and it is through his refusal to allow that the young man may like the money and yet be a fine husband that the real drama of Washington Square emerges In fact, the pressure of this character produces the novel s greatest and least predictable achievement the transformation of Catherine Sloper from a non character the pathetic, jilted heiress into a character, and the reader s tormented resistance to Dr Sloper not only keeps the door of Morris Townsend ajar, but keeps the novel on a wonderfully shaky course, morally and aesthetically.In later years, James himself commented that he started Washington Square with great disdain for Catherine, which metamorphosed into something much complicated similar, maybe, to Tolstoy s creation of Anna Karenina Maybe it s possible, then, to read Morris Townsend to whose consciousness we only have access in scant, sharp shards of observation as the most reflexively novelistic in the book, in the sense that his own ambivalent heartlessness may well mirror the novel s own confused motives James ultimately disavowed Washington Square he even omitted it from his Collected Works but it marks the first appearance of the central conflict that governs his later, greatest novels the predation of love upon money, and vice versa The moral puzzle of the passionate mercenary haunts his major work, and Washington Square may well mark the death of the non characters villain and victim that started it all A strange, beautiful, perfectly unsatisfying book. If I close my eyes and ask myself what impression this book has left on me, the idea that comes immediately to mind is stillness The stillness radiates from the main character, Catherine Sloper I see her as a monumental figure in a hieratic pose, immobile, meek, but solid to the core Her immobility impressed me greatly, especially as this book is quite like a play There is a lot of dialogue, a small number of characters, and one principal location where most of the important scenes take place The characters circle that space, and they circle Catherine She rarely moves, and since she pauses before answering every question addressed to her, we have time to imagine her face turning slowly towards the speaker as she meditates her careful response The result of Catherine s overly cautious responses is that the other characters fail to know her, and fail abysmally Though he allows the reader to see of her inner life than the other characters ever guess at, Henry James allows Catherine to keep the core of her being a secret even from us I like to think that as he developed his heroine, his respect for her grew so that he had no choice but to preserve her privacy and to keep the mystery at the heart of her stillness a mystery to the end That s what I wanted for her and that s what he deliveredWhile Catherine doesn t say very much, the other characters than make up for her lack of verbosity The exchanges between Catherine s various relatives reminded me of Jane Austin s ability to deliver witty dialogue line after line of course people don t talk like this in real life, but how we wish they did There were in fact many moments during reading when I was reminded of Jane Austin, and particularly of Fanny Price from Mansfield Park Like Fanny, Catherine is undervalued by her entourage, and treated quite badly by certain among them But Fanny acquires a savior Henry James prefers Catherine to be her own savior.
Henry James, OM, son of theologian Henry James Sr., brother of the philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James, was an American born author, one of the founders and leaders of a school of realism in fiction He spent much of his life in England and became a British subject shortly before his death He is primarily known for a series of major novels in which he portrayed the
- Audio CD
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- Washington Square
- Henry James
- 01 September 2019 Henry James