By Elizabeth Allen
A whole size learn of James' use of the "American woman" heroine in his novels, from Daisy Miller via Isabel Archer to Milly Theale and Maggie Verver.
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Additional resources for A Woman’s Place in the Novels of Henry James
Thus in contradiction to puritanism a fusion was sought between idealism and sensualism. The rejection of pre-defined forms, the emphasis on the potential for every individual to attain knowledge independently, together with the moral seriousness of the philosophy, made such beliefs attractive to women seeking sanction to develop beyond the self-abnegation ofmore 'social' Christianity. The intellectual links with democratic ideals, expansionism and belief in a meritocracy 40 harmonised the use of the American girl as a sign of both national and moral individualism.
2 The power of the letter, a power not accessible to analysis or logic, is firmly established. The introduction seems to promise some explanation of the letter, some demonstration of the 'deep meaning' streaming from it. Yet in fact the story which follows intensifies the mystery, and diversifies the possible ways and means of interpretation. The letter has an existence in cloth on Hester's dress, it appears as lightning in the sky, it is seen imprinted on Dimmesdale's flesh. In all its manifestations, it can be explained; physically, psychologically, religiously, superstitiously.
If an unmarried woman is less constrained there then elsewhere, a wife is subjected to stricter obligations. 35 As usual the notion of woman's duty could be interchanged with that of her nature: It should also be remembered that when an American girl marries, she no longer entertains the desire to interest any but her husband. as The young, unmarried girls had a freedom greater in America than in Europe; they went out by themselves, had 'gentlemen friends' and enjoyed themselves generally at their own leisure.