Princess Masamassima Character Analysis

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While Rowland and Roderick go on a long walk to Engelberg, the beautiful princess to whom they have, to some extent, suffered from her indifference, reappears with what could be regarded as profound agitation imprinted on her face. Uncomfortable for having run into Rowland, the princess says to her husband, “Do let us leave this hideous edifice…there are things here that set one’s teeth on edge.” (362) Since her heartfelt tête-à-tête — three months ago with Rowland, the alluring princess has not changed physically, but instead he sees, “a heavier ray in the light of her eye — a sinister intimation of sadness and bitterness.” (365) In a word, Princess Casamassima has now become just as tragic as Roderick, for she has foolishly renounced her freedom to do what she will — by giving in to the suffocating indolence her title demands — namely, to sit still and look beautiful for her husband, the Prince. When Roderick, nonetheless, sees her talking to Rowland, the artist is studying her features in detail as if this would be the last time he will gaze at perfection. Whereupon Christina remarks, “You don’t look well!” (367) The artist’s malady to which she is referring is melancholia: the only cure, according to the unhinged artist, is death. Accordingly, Roderick wanders off to be alone in order to contemplate (as the reader will later learn) whether to chase after Christina Light in Interlaken. While the young artist ruminates this ponderous problem, Mary Garland asks Rowland,
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