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Characterism And Symbolism In Henry James's Washington Square

Decent Essays
Henry James' novel, Washington Square, tells the story of Catherine Sloper, a shy and extremely modest woman who falls in love with a handsome and charming man, Morris Townsend, after meeting him at the occasional party given by the aunt Mrs. Almond. Catherine, who is viewed by everyone as a woman with a plain look and little personality, but a great dowry, becomes an easy target for Morris, a man with the shadowy background. Unfortunately, for Catherine, her father, Dr. Sloper also considers her neither clever nor beautiful and believes that Morris is only interested in his daughter for her money. It is also evident throughout the novel that Morris desires Catherine’s money and is not interested in her as a woman. When Catherine’s father does not change his mind towards the couple’s marriage and Morris is convinced by Mrs. Penniman that he will never get a penny from Dr. Sloper, he disappears within days after telling Catherine he wants to travel to New Orleans for a business. After Morris abandons Catherine, she becomes more confident in herself, discovers her inner strength, and gains control over her life.
In the beginning, James describes Catherine as not clever, stalwart, and extremely modest woman with no trace of her mother’s beauty. “She was not ugly; she had simply plain, dull, gentle countenance’’ (James 8). James portrays Catherine as a woman who is willing to sacrifice her own personal happiness to please others. She is of no interest to other characters in the
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