Henry James' The Wings of the Dove Essay

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Henry James' The Wings of the Dove

This paper will present briefly Henry James and his thoughts about the art of fiction that is presented by his same titled essay before thoroughly analyzing his novel: The Wings of the Dove. James’ ideas on his article The Art of Fiction will be applied to The Wings of the Dove and the narrative style that he uses will be indicated by certain quotations taken from the novel.

James had read classics of English, American, French, and German literature and Russian classics in translation. His models were Dickens, Balzac, and Hawthorne. Then, there is a harness of French, British, and American culture in his works. His first novel, Watch and Ward (1871) was written while he was travelling through
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James suffered a stroke and died three mouths later in Rye in 1916.

It is also significant that Henry James lived between the years 1843 and 1916 that form the period between late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. James’s “main themes were the innocence of the New World in conflict with the corruption and wisdom of the Old” (Books and Writers). We may easily view the reflections of his themes on his novels which has characteristically understanding and sensitively drawn lady portraits. Among his masterpieces is Daisy Miller (1879) where the young and innocent American girl finds her values in conflict with European sophistication, in The Portrait of a Lady (1881) a young headstrong American woman becomes a victim of an intrigue played upon her during her travels in Europe. The Bostonians, (1886) was set in the era of the rising feminist movement. What Maisie Knew (1897) depicts a young girl who must choose between her parents and a motherly old governess and in The Wings of the Dove (1902) a young American girl Milly’s victimization because of her heritage is told.

James’ novels, The Portrait of a Lady, Washington Square, and The Wings of the Dove were made film versions in 1997. Cathleen Myers who wrote an appreciation on “Washington Square and The Wings of the Dove” claims