Henry James ' The Bostonians ( 1886 )

2504 Words Oct 26th, 2016 11 Pages
Henry James’ The Bostonians (1886) is a satirical study of the feminist movement. This novel can be read as a study of woman’s quest for being a patriarch in United States of America in the 19th century. The events of The Bostonians are set in New England of U.S.A. The female characters of this novel are involved in the feminist reform movement that swept New England during the latter half of the nineteenth century. The novel appeared thirty-five years before female suffrage. James foresaw the catastrophic weakenss of the feminine life force by the dominance of men over women. When Henry James started writing The Bostonians in 1883, he uncovered his intentions for this novel:
I wished to write a very American tale, a tale very characteristic of our social condition, and I asked myself what was the most salient and peculiar point in our social life. The answer was: the situation of woman, the decline of the sentiment of sex, the agitation on their behalf (James, Notebooks 47).
By the 1880s, some female voices had proclaimed some questions of race, gender, and sexuality. These voices influenced James’s choice of the subject of The Bostonians. In one of his letters James writes:
The characters are for the most part persons of the radical reforming type, who are especially interested in the emancipation of women, giving them the suffrage, releasing them from bondage, coeducating them with men, etc. They regard this as the great question of the day—the most urgent and sacred…

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