Notes 9/27

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The Beast in the Jungle is a great story but dreadfully over written in my opinion. The unspoken secret, from what I gather, is that Marcher will never love a woman or "consummate his love" and other critics may say it's just the beast in the closet and James is just referring to his hidden homosexuality. I'm starting to be bothered by some of James' male characters because they all seem to be pompous and inconsiderate and just so full of themselves. This character especially. If you look at the story with out the homosexual lens it just looks like a man who is so focused on how eccentric and artistic he is that he can never truly love a woman. What I find is odd though is that she knows his secret the whole time but still remains his friend. She must have truly loved him. It is a heartbreaking scene to have him fall on her tomb but it was his choice to live in such perpetual loneliness.

The Jolly Corner is definitely an example of something that could frighten everybody into doing what the ghost of themselves says is "right" or what they should have done. What is ambiguous is if Brydon will actually change. James writing is especially suspenseful in this tale. I fond myself paging through it faster than any of the others that we have read. How does Alice know Brydon is in danger? It kind of puts a post-modern twist on the story where we just never know what is real. Is the losing of the fingers having to do with not being able to write anymore? And is that the most horrifying part for James?

Notes 9/13

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A theme that I noticed throughout each of these four stories is that James focus's very prominently on class and how it relates to his characters relationships with others. In "Four Meetings," the character of Miss Spencer is reserved from her experience of Europe by her financial misgivings involving her cousin and his relationship to the countess. The Moreens show their problems with money by not being able to pay Pemberton. Brooksmith is a butler under the hand of a wealthy man and the Monarchs are "ruined" people, the assumption that they once had money but their clothes were "thrifty"

The difference between these characters and how they handle their wealth, or lack of it is an interesting topic. The Moreens are constantly trying to keep up appearances and make it seem as though they have money, and when they do have it, they spend it quickly and are living differently week to week. Brooksmith may not have a large sum, but is an artist in his lack of means by hosting extravagant salon parties with great conversation. The Monarchs are stuck in their past "season" (butterflys) and trying to get back something they once had but sink to the very bottom by serving the illustrator at the end of the story. Miss Spencer has a lack of funds and cannot truly enjoy Europe.

A quote to strengthen the point from "The Real Thing." "There was something about them that represented credit-their clothes, their manners, their type; but if credit is a large empty pocket in which an occasional chink reverberates, the chink at least must be audible." What James is saying is that people who have little fiscal means need to make it known that they are in need of help. Credit is just an empty pocket that is filled loudly and you are able to tell when one lives by credit.

The topic of Europe has become to me, through James' writing, a sort of artistic haven. So often he talks of the European architecture and the writing of Byron as if his characters are bettered by the experience of these mediums. Miss Spencer seems to be looked down upon because she isn't able to experience Europe.

In "The Real Thing" and "Brooksmith," James uses the theme or description rather of an "artistic nirvana." The illustrator finds it in the Monarchs, and Brooksmith presents it in his salon.

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