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ENGL 275 Final

James 55 in his masterpiece the portrait of a lady

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Unformatted text preview: escaping to a more liberating existence in Italy” (451). For Fuller, Italy was invaluable as a site for literary exploration, as seen in her novel Corrine, in which “The novel’s extended lyrical descriptions of landscape, literature, and art pay tribute to an Italy that nurtures the creative impulses of the woman artist” (451). By living in Italy, Fuller, along with other English and American women, freed herself from restrictive societal codes, most notably the belief that women should not interest themselves with politics. Hence why her dispatches to the New York Tribune were full of energy and vividness—Fuller could not only J e s t e r | 9 actively observe and bring herself close to the ongoing violence, but also participate in the Italian struggle by nursing the wounded and writing to draw attention to the oppression of the country (462). Her American nationality was essential to her perspective abroad, as she “positioned herself as an American whose interest in the cause of human freedom was based on a desire that other nations share the liberty enjoyed by America” (466). Italy nurtured Fuller’s passion for political writing and social commentary while freeing her from the bonds of gendered cultural norms, a transformation on which Hurst comments, “If women could write on behalf of Italy’s liberation from foreign oppression, they might also liberate themselves from an apolitical, purely domestic existence” (466). Hurst’s analysis of the lives and work of Fuller and Browning paint a positive picture of cosmopolitanism and allow students to enter a conversation about conflicting gendered cultural norms. 7. The Portrait of a Lady – Henry James “It was by this term that he qualified her conversation, which had much of the vivacity observable in that of the young ladies of her country, to whom the ear of the world is more directly presented than to their sisters in other lands. Like the majority of American girls, Isabel had been encouraged to express herself; her remarks had been attended to; she had been expected to have emotions and opinions. Many of her opinions had doubtless but a slender value, many of her emotions passed away in the utterance; but they had left a trace in giving her the habit of seeming at least to feel and think, and in imparting, moreover, to her words, when she was really moved, that artless vividness which so many people had regarded as a sign of superiority.” (James, 55) In his masterpiece The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James delves into the experience of living and traveling abroad while highlighting the themes of contrasting European and American ideals and the conflict between individualism and social norms—all through the experiences of American heroine Isabel Archer. This text synthesizes course themes and ideas, and is particularly relevant J e s t e r | 10 to American university students in that it is predominantly set amongst an assemblage of Americans living in Europe. James is particularly concerned with how these displaced “European...
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