american lit II midterm 1

american lit II midterm 1 - The Beast in the Jungle Henry...

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The Beast in the Jungle – Henry James Realism – accurate imitation of life James (psychological realism) – A modification of the concept of realism, or telling it like it is, which  recognises that what is real to the individual is that which he or she perceives. “The Beast in the Jungle” is divided into six sections, each part designated by a roman numeral (I-VI). In the first section, James introduces the protagonist of the story, John Marcher. Marcher is at a manor house in the English countryside where he sees a woman whose face and manner stir his memory, although he is unable to recollect the circumstances of their acquaintance. Before he leaves, Marcher finds himself at close quarters with the woman. The moment she speaks to him he remembers where they met — in Italy where both were vacationing ten years previously. During this short renewal of their acquaintance, she reminds him that he had imparted to her a grave secret in Italy: he had told her that it was his conviction that he was destined to experience a monumental and devastating event, but as to the nature of this event, and when it might occur, he had no inkling. Marcher, who still fervently retains this conviction, is both pleased and shocked to meet the only human being to whom he has ever confided his deepest, and perhaps his only, secret. By the end of their conversation May Bartram has agreed to become his special friend, a friend who will wait and watch with him until the moment his fate is at last revealed. In Section II Bartram receives an inheritance which allows her to set herself up in a London home. Bartram’s and Marcher’s proximity leads to a life in which they are constant companions. Most of this part of James’s story details Marcher’s pleased feelings over having a companion to keep him company during his “vigil.” There is a sense of much time passing quickly. Section III opens with Marcher and Bartram discussing the oddity of their lives (spent waiting for Marcher’s “beast” to spring), and the possibility that both of them might have long been a subject of especial interest to those who know them, since they have so long been such inseparable friends, and yet have never married. As in Section II, a sense of the passing of time is brought home to readers when it is learned that May Bartram has fallen ill from “a deep disorder in her blood,” a disease which will soon usher her to her death. This calamity leads Marcher to wonder, with some panic, if time is running out for him too, and whether he is correct in believing in a special fate. The section ends with Marcher’s bleak hope that he has not been “sold.” Section IV opens with a description of one of Marcher’s visits to Bartram. The sight of her wasted “serene” face, and a conversation they have about his “beast,” causes him once again to doubt his conviction. During this conversation, it occurs to Marcher that Bartram is attempting to “save” him from
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american lit II midterm 1 - The Beast in the Jungle Henry...

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