The Readers Review: Literature from 1800 to 1910 discussion

24 views
Archives 2012 Group Reads > "The Wings of the Dove" by Henry James. Book Sixth & Seventh: April. 1-10

Comments (showing 1-50 of 155) (155 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1 3 4

message 1: by Silver (new)

Silver I will post my comments soon, in the mean time, you may begin your discussion of books Sixth - Seventh.


message 2: by Silver (new)

Silver When the inevitable meeting occurs between Milly, Kate, and Densher and Kate discovers Milly's own attraction to Densher I was a bit taken with how casual and flippant her reaction was. It did not seem to be a natural reaction to the situation. She in fact encourages Densher to entertain Milly's feelings for him.

I found she came off as seemingly insincere in this moment and I could not help but wonder what her thoughts, feelings, motives may have been in her reaction.

Is it a show of her overconfidence that she does not in fact consider Milly to truly be a rival for her affections? Or an indication that her feelings for Densher are not so very great?

I recalled how earlier in the discussion it was mentioned that Kate seemed to be manipulative or deceiving in some way, and I could see it here in this moment. There is something about her which feels a bit phony. As if she is trying to be someone else, or perhaps trying too hard to be herself.

I often find it interesting the names which authors choose for their characters, and I could not help but wonder, is it just a coincidence that Kate Croy sounds a lot like "coy"


message 3: by MadgeUK (last edited Apr 01, 2012 11:01PM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments ... a bit taken with how casual and flippant her reaction was. It did not seem to be a natural reaction to the situation. She in fact encourages Densher to entertain Milly's feelings for him.

But earlier in the book the two of them had discussed at Aunt Maud's the possibility of Densher getting Milly to love him and Densher was disturbed that Kate wanted him to make up to a sick girl. From then on it is an act of deceit between the two of them, although Densher has more reservations than Kate. There is an all round conspiracy to disguise from Milly that Kate and Densher have a close relationship and Maud tells Susan that Kate does not love him.


message 4: by Silver (new)

Silver MadgeUK wrote: "... a bit taken with how casual and flippant her reaction was. It did not seem to be a natural reaction to the situation. She in fact encourages Densher to entertain Milly's feelings for him.

But ..."


That conversation must have slipped my mind. I thought that this was the first time in which Kate, Densher, and Milly openly acknowledged each other as until his reappearance Kate had no idea as to a connection between Densher and Milly. I will have to go back and reread.


message 5: by Silver (new)

Silver I could be missing something but from what I can tell the fist time it seems Kate and Densher seriously began to discuss the possibility of Densher engaging in Milly, was in Book Six

"You can't very well tell her anything, and that doesn't matter. Only be nice to her. Please her; make her see how clever you are - only without letting her see that you are trying. If you are charming to her you've nothing else to do."

"I can't be charming to her as far as I see, only by letting her suppose I give you up - which I'll be hanged if I do! It is" he said with feeling, "a game"

"Of course it is a game, but she'll never suppose you give me up - of I give you - if you keep reminding her how much you enjoy our interviews"

"Than if she has to see us as obstinate and constant" Densher asked "what good does it do?


It is my impression this occurs after Kate's awareness of Milly's feelings for Densher, as prior to this she makes remarks about how much Milly likes him.

I never really saw her before hand trying to get Densher to make Milly love him, but using what she already knew of her feelings for him for her own purposes.


message 6: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Perhaps others will find the relevant passage but my impression was from before they went to Venice, at Aunt Maud's, that the cynical plan was made for Densher to seduce Milly so as to get her money when she died and then he and Kate could marry. This is why I 'took against' Kate early on and did not see her as the nice person that others described.


message 7: by Lily (last edited Apr 02, 2012 07:15AM) (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 2578 comments MadgeUK wrote: "Perhaps others will find the relevant passage but my impression was from before they went to Venice, at Aunt Maud's, that the cynical plan was made for Densher to seduce Milly so as to get her mone..."

I don't recall such a passage through book 5 -- I am just starting book 6, somehow, I thought we were another week on 5, and turned my reading to other things. Will try to catch up soon.


message 8: by MadgeUK (last edited Apr 02, 2012 07:39AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments I think it was nearer book 2 or 3.


message 9: by Lily (last edited Apr 02, 2012 08:28AM) (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 2578 comments MadgeUK wrote: "I think it was nearer book 2 or 3."

While Densher is still in America?

When and how does Kate learn Milly is deathly ill? I didn't think it was until Kate went to Sir Strett accompanied by Milly, and even then Milly tells Kate after the second visit that she (Milly herself) had been "Absurd."

Yet there is a strange foreshadowing and foreboding in the surrounding passage, almost as if Milly intuits some danger to herself by sharing:

"Absurd." It was a simple word to say, but the consequence of it, for our young woman, was that she felt it, as soon as spoken, to have done something for her safety. B5, C4 (C13)

Did Susan know something, even perhaps as she took the job, which she shared with Maud, and thence the knowledge had reached Kate? If so, I haven't been able to track that in the text.


message 10: by MadgeUK (last edited Apr 02, 2012 08:31AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments I can't remember which part Lily and to be honest I can't be bothered to read the tedious text again but it is before they go to Venice. My Introduction says this (view spoiler)


message 11: by Lily (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 2578 comments MadgeUK wrote: "I can't remember which part Lily and to be honest I can't be bothered to read the tedious text again but it is before they go to Venice. My Introduction says this [spoilers removed]"

Oh, but Madge, the wonder of James is in reading and rereading the b..oops, I shouldn't use that word! LOL.


message 12: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Yeah yeah yeah. There is an old Yorkshire saying-'I don't boil my cabbage twice.' :)


message 13: by Lily (last edited Apr 02, 2012 08:45AM) (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 2578 comments MadgeUK wrote: "Yeah yeah yeah. There is an old Yorkshire saying-'I don't boil my cabbage twice.' :)"

One has to decide when analogies apply or metaphors are apt! ;-)

I returned here to post that in writing my previous post I first noticed the name: Sir Luke Strett. Luke, of course, is the attributed Gospel author who was a physician.


message 14: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Yes, there are a lot of biblical allusions in WotD.

I've just struggled through several chapters to find where Kate spells out the deception (as clearly as James' spells anything out...) and it is in chapter 18 of Book Sixth but it is alluded to earlier somewhere.....Now I have a headache and must lie down.


message 15: by Silver (last edited Apr 02, 2012 09:48AM) (new)

Silver MadgeUK wrote: "I can't remember which part Lily and to be honest I can't be bothered to read the tedious text again but it is before they go to Venice. My Introduction says this [spoilers removed]"

But I did not think that plot was hatched until after Book Six and Seven, because when Kate mentions it to him in these chapters he does not act as if it is something they already agreed upon. But she has to do a good deal of convincing him.

I will have to go back and see if I can find anything before this to suggest that such a thing was already discussed. But I thought that the first time Kate met with Densher since she had known Milly was in Book 5.

When Milly first arrived Densher was supposed to be gone.


message 16: by MadgeUK (last edited Apr 02, 2012 10:04AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments I feel such a deception was foreshadowed in several conversations Kate had with Densher about doing their own thing without regard for others. When they discussed deceiving Aunt Maude for instance, so as to be sure of Kate getting her allowance. There was also a foreshadowing in the conversations you mention with Lord Mark about Milly's wealth. Another telling conversation was between Aunt Maude and Milly, wherein Aunt Maude tried to persuade Milly that Kate did not love Densher thereby freeing Milly to love him. Once Milly, with her illness and wealth come upon the scene, the stage was set.

Sorry I am not offering quotes as I usually do but I find searching for them amongst the divagations very annoying.


message 17: by Silver (new)

Silver MadgeUK wrote: "I feel such a deception was foreshadowed in several conversations Kate had with Densher about doing their own thing without regard for others. When they discussed deceiving Aunt Maude for instance,..."

Perhaps in some of their previous actions and discussions it may have been foreshadowed, but as far as Densher and Kate speaking of Milly herself, that could not have happened until Book 5. For when Kate and Densher are first brought together it is before Milly even comes on the scene. Than Densher goes away and Milly is introduced. At this point Densher is not present. It is only when Milly sees Densher with Kate that the thee of them are all made known to each other.

As far as Aunt Maud and Milly are concerned, I think that Aunt Maud did want to use Milly to divert Densher away from Kate but I do not think Aunt Maud had any awareness of Kate's own little plot. I do not think Aunt Maud was after Milly's wealth or part of any elaborate scheming. I think she just wanted Densher out of the picture and saw an opportunity through Milly.

At first I thought that it was Kate's intention to simply use Milly as a diversion in allowing Aunt Maud to believe in a connection between Densher and Milly, it was not until later that I had realized that Kate wanted to actually play upon Milly's feelings as part of some greater deception.


message 18: by MadgeUK (last edited Apr 02, 2012 11:27AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments but I do not think Aunt Maud had any awareness of Kate's own little plot. I do not think Aunt Maud was after Milly's wealth or part of any elaborate scheming. I think she just wanted Densher out of the picture and saw an opportunity through Milly.

I agree. Although my thought was 'What a deceptive family they are!'

I just saw Kate as a money=grubbing schemer from the outset and suspected her of evil doings:).


message 19: by Silver (new)

Silver MadgeUK wrote: "but I do not think Aunt Maud had any awareness of Kate's own little plot. I do not think Aunt Maud was after Milly's wealth or part of any elaborate scheming. I think she just wanted Densher out of..."

I suppose a part of me was holding on to wanting to like Kate, and to sympathize with her efforts to try and achieve interdependence while she herself was being used as a pawn by her family for their own gains and advantage.

But in her outright manipulation of Milly's feelings, it made me question her own feelings for Densher, as well, even in her grasping at freedom and happiness for herself against the obstacles in her way, it seemed to be crossing a line.


message 20: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments You are just an old softie Silver:D


message 21: by Silver (new)

Silver MadgeUK wrote: "You are just an old softie Silver:D"

Generally speaking I usually am not at all. In fact I often tend to be drawn to some of the more mercenary characters. But I think it is my affection for Milly which makes me less inclined towards Kate. Though I cannot say I ever grew to flat out dislike Kate but nor did I come to like her as much as I had originally thought I would.

I think part if it is that Kate does feel phony to me, it makes me less able to like her when I do not feel as if I know the real her, and as if she is putting on an act.

While Milly ironically considering she is the one who is putting on a show, at least to some extent in her concealing of the illness, seems more genuine to me. Maybe it is because of her illness or her greater independence, but Milly seems to understand who she is better.

I am not sure if Kate really knows who she is or what she wants to be. But Milly is just Milly.


message 22: by MadgeUK (last edited Apr 02, 2012 12:44PM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments I agree. Kate is her father's daughter and her aunt's niece - the predatory eagle to Milly's dove:(.


message 23: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 115 comments I'm waiting to find out what it is that Bill sees in Kate.


message 24: by Silver (new)

Silver One of the other things which I began to reflect upon while reading, is it seems that the approach to classicism is a bit more casual and I wonder if this is part of the American influence. While it is present in the book, it did not seem to have the same sort of snobbery about it as seems most frequently present within British novels of the this time.

I found the relations between Aunt Maud and Densher to be interesting. While she objects to Kate's involvement with him, this seems based more upon the fact that a marriage between Kate and Densher would not be in any way beneficial to her, and she would have nothing to gain from it. But she does not seem to object to Densher as a human being based upon his social standing, she simply does not want him to marry her niece, but she still welcomes him within her society and establishes as a sort of friendship with him. She does like him for himself, and so it does not seem as if she truly holds discriminatory views against him, she simply wants to use Kate to her fullest advantage.


message 25: by Silver (new)

Silver Laurele wrote: "I'm waiting to find out what it is that Bill sees in Kate."

Yes I would be currious to find that out as well.


message 26: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 115 comments Aunt Maude seems to me to be a collector of young men.


message 27: by Silver (new)

Silver Laurele wrote: "Aunt Maude seems to me to be a collector of young men."

haha! Now that I think of it, you are right.


message 28: by Lily (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 2578 comments Silver wrote: "Laurele wrote: "I'm waiting to find out what it is that Bill sees in Kate."

Yes I would be curious to find that out as well."


Adelle also has stated she has a defense of Kate that she is pondering.


message 29: by Silver (new)

Silver Lily wrote: "Silver wrote: "Laurele wrote: "I'm waiting to find out what it is that Bill sees in Kate."

Yes I would be curious to find that out as well."

Adelle also has stated she has a defense of Kate that ..."


I do not deny that Kate's actions could be defendable, I had developed and argument of similar affect but thought that it would be a bit more relevant later on in the reading. But I am curious about what Bill finds so attractive about her, which is different than simply being able to justify her actions.


message 30: by MadgeUK (last edited Apr 03, 2012 12:01AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments While it is present in the book, it did not seem to have the same sort of snobbery about it as seems most frequently present within British novels of the this time.

Yes, Brits are more snobbish because of their class system but what you you means about it affecting the approach to classicism?

this seems based more upon the fact that a marriage between Kate and Densher would not be in any way beneficial to her, and she would have nothing to gain from it.

Do you see Aunt Maude seeking financial gain from Kate's marriage? If not, what sort of gain?


message 31: by Silver (last edited Apr 03, 2012 01:30AM) (new)

Silver MadgeUK wrote: Yes, Brits are more snobbish because of their class system but what you you means about it affecting the approach to classicism?
..."


I had meant the way in which James presents classicism, and ideas relating to class within the book. The approach the book seems to take on classism, (as in how classism is presented within) seems to be a good deal less elitist than what seems to be the norm of books from around this period of time.

James seems to put more emphasis on what the characters can get out of each other, and as he often stated, particularly earlier in the book, what the value the characters have to each other, more so than he does the importance of title and social standing, where ones place in society is.

Aunt Maud does not seem to in fact look down upon Densher, but he simply has very little or no value to her. And she has a preference for Lord Mark for Kate, I do not think because of the title in of itself, or because her desire to improve the respectability of the family name, or move Kate up socially in the world, but more of what the benefit of a connection to Lord Mark would bring her.


message 32: by MadgeUK (last edited Apr 03, 2012 01:05AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments classicism has a different meaning Silver - an easy mistake to make:).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classicism

James is writing about classism:-

http://dictionary.reference.com/brows...

Your observations are very insightful.

Marrying Kate into a titled family would improve Aunt Maude's social standing because of the status a title holds in British society, which outweighs the status money brings. James is aware of this but perhaps wishes his characters to disregard it, to be more egalitarian and American?

I cannot see the value that Densher has for Aunt Maud other than that of being a presentable, likeable young man. He does not seem to be influential enough as a journalist to present a threat and I don't think he is from a particularly good family.


message 33: by Silver (new)

Silver MadgeUK wrote: "classicism has a different meaning Silver - an easy mistake to make:).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classicism

James is writing about classism:-

http://dictionary.reference.com/brows...
..."


Oops I was not aware of the differnece.


message 34: by Silver (new)

Silver In regards to Aunt Maude, I cannot help but to wonder if she would find Densher more acceptable if in fact he was wealthy. So while the title which Lord Mark offers is attractive for what it could bring, I wonder how much the prospects a title itself mean to Maude? Or if she would be just as content with the prospects of a considerable finical gain that does not come with the same benefits of aristocratic connections.

I think that James does see problems in the class system. He does not seem to present those of the nobility in a very flattering light. I think he perhaps is make some statements about individuality. Milly's repeated mantra which she derives from Sir Luke, in her seeking a reason and desire "to live" I believe has implications beyond just Milly and the implications of her illness. But I think it may also be a plea for the others to live life on their own terms, and to grasp hold of their own life and break free. While Milly is literally dying, I wonder if there is not something also metaphorical in it.


message 35: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments I don't think anyone of any sense would see the class system or the nobility in a flattering light:)

I agree with your observations about 'living', whatever your circumstances and there are several conversations (and meanderings) at the beginning of the book between Kate and Densher to this affect.

Maude is wealthy herself and so a title would be of more benefit to her than money. A title is seen as worth more than money if it is an hereditary one because of the access it gives to aristocratic circles, even to royalty (and to credit).


message 36: by Lily (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 2578 comments MadgeUK wrote: "A title is seen as worth more than money if it is an hereditary one because of the access it gives to aristocratic circles, even to royalty (and to credit)...."

By "credit" do you mean access to financial resources? (E.g., because of the value of networks of people to each other.)


message 37: by MadgeUK (last edited Apr 03, 2012 09:55AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Yes, banks traditionally lend to the aristocracy because their ancestral homes and land are collateral.


message 38: by Lily (last edited Apr 03, 2012 09:59AM) (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 2578 comments One of the topics both James and Wharton address was the propensity for landed British gentry and aristocracy to gain access to New World wealth and for New World families to acquire European access and sophistication via well negotiated marriages. (It is too bad Wharton didn't get a chance to finish The Buccaneers herself.)

Question that occurs to me as I write this: Is James being fairly romantic about his presentation of Milly in WotD? Has he made her excessively sweet, naive, innocent? Or is there a rather hidden, suspicious, manipulative vein running underneath, such as one might expect from a young woman who has had to somehow find her own way amid personal tragedy, albeit with significant resources to contravene the blows?

P.S. What does the portrait suggest towards these questions?


message 39: by MadgeUK (last edited Apr 03, 2012 10:17AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Given that Milly is a portrait of his cousin who died young and about whom he felt guilty because he didn't invite her to England when she asked etc., I would expect a sympathetic portrait. In his autobiography he said Milly is based on Minny Temple (1845–1870), his cousin, who died from tuberculosis and that The Wings of the Dove was his attempt to wrap her memory in the 'beauty and dignity of art'.

This note about the painting may help:-

'Agnolo Bronzino’s was the hand to hire for a power portrait in mid-16th-century Florence. He could turn toddlers into potentates and make new-money Medicis look like decent people. His painting shaped late Mannerism, the profane, twisty, prosthetic style that erupted, like a repressed libido, between the humanist sanctities of the Renaissance and the smells and bells of the Counter-Reformation.....At his peak, in the 1550s, Bronzino was the most influential painter in Florence. And although his reputation went into eclipse, it never went away. By the 20th century he was back. In Henry James’s 1902 “Wings of the Dove” a Bronzino portrait of a noblewoman, “with her long neck, her recorded jewels, her brocaded and wasted reds,” is the culminating symbol of evanescent magnificence around which that deeply mannered novel turns.'


message 40: by Silver (new)

Silver Lily wrote: "One of the topics both James and Wharton address was the propensity for landed British gentry and aristocracy to gain access to New World wealth and for New World families to acquire European acces..."

I think that all in all she is intended to be a sympahatic chratcater, and I do not really see see anything manipultive or suspscious about her. Though I can never quite tell if she really is as naive as she sometimes comes off or if in fact she has an understanding of more than she lets on. At one point she makes a statement I beleive it was to Lord Mark in which she declares that she is assured that Kate does not love Densher. And I was not altogether certain if indeed she has been led to geneuneaely beleive this to be true or if she had other reasons for declearing it.

But since you brought the question up, there was one thing which had struck out at me during the reading, that gave me pause to think. Particularly with a book like this, it can I think be difficult to decipher when one is reading too much into something or making the mistake of over analyzing, but it presents at least something to consider.

I noticed that on more the one occasion when speaking of Milly's condition Kate uses the term "Is Milly very bad?" or similar variations. But the use of the word bad when speaking of Milly is what caught my attention.

While it is meant to indicate her state with her illness, at the same time something about it seemed a strange way of phrasing it, as I could not help but think of it in the way in which the term "bad" was also used to describe women who were seen to be of looser morals. Considering Milly is this young wealthy, independent American girl, and considering what seemed to be the British opinion about American women.


message 41: by MadgeUK (last edited Apr 03, 2012 12:17PM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments ...that she is assured that Kate does not love Densher. And I was not altogether certain if indeed she has been led to geneuneaely beleive this to be true or if she had other reasons for declearing it.

This is because this is what Aunt Maude assured her was the case so as to free the way for Milly to love Densher.

I don't think that Kate could have thought Milly was bad in the immoral sense - she cannot be the 'dove' (Kate's word and a motif) and be bad, and in any case Kate did not know enough about her past to make such a judgement.


message 42: by Silver (new)

Silver MadgeUK wrote: "...This is because this is what Aunt Maude assured her was the case so as to free the way for Milly to love Densher...."

That was not entirely my impression. When Aunt Maud and Milly first speak of Densher and Kate, though Aunt Maud does try to play down Kate's feelings, she also is the one whom tells Milly not to mention Densher to Kate, and Milly is the one who often reassures Aunt Maud that Kate never mentions Densher to her.

As well when Milly makes this remark she states that she has it from Kate herself.

Then you must know by the same token that she's very much in love with a particular person."

"Ah I beg your pardon!"--and Milly quite flushed at having so crude a blunder imputed to her. "You're wholly mistaken."

"It's not true?"

"It's not true."

His stare became a smile. "Are you very, very sure?"

"As sure as one can be"--and Milly's manner could match it--"when one has every assurance. I speak on the best authority."

He hesitated. "Mrs. Lowder's?"

"No. I don't call Mrs. Lowder's the best."

"Oh I thought you were just now saying," he laughed, "that everything about her's so good."

"Good for you"--she was perfectly clear. "For you," she went on, "let her authority be the best. She doesn't believe what you mention, and you must know yourself how little she makes of it. So you can take it from her. i take it--" But Milly, with the positive tremor of her emphasis, pulled up.

"You take it from Kate?"

"From Kate herself."

"That she's thinking of no one at all?"

"Of no one at all." Then, with her intensity, she went on. "She has given me her word for it."

"0h!" said Lord Mark. To which he next added: "And what do you call her word?"

It made Milly, on her side, stare--though perhaps partly but with the instinct of gaining time for the consciousness that she was already a little further "in" than she had designed. "Why, Lord Mark, what should YOU call her word?"

"Ah I'm not obliged to say. I've not asked her. You apparently have."

Well, it threw her on her defence--a defence that she felt, however, especially as of Kate. "We're very intimate," she said in a moment; "so that, without prying into each other's affairs, she naturally tells me things."

Lord Mark smiled as at a lame conclusion. "You mean then she made you of her own movement the declaration you quote?"

Milly thought again, though with hindrance rather than help in her sense of the way their eyes now met--met as for their each seeing in the other more than either said. What she most felt that she herself saw was the strange disposition on her companion's part to disparage Kate's veracity. She could be only concerned to "stand up" for that.

"I mean what I say: that when she spoke of her having no private interest--"

"She took her oath to you?" Lord Mark interrupted.

Milly didn't quite see why he should so catechise her; but she met it again for Kate. "She left me in no doubt whatever of her being free."


Milly is quite clear here that her informaiton does not in fact come from Aunt Maude, and that it was Kate who seems to have given her this impression.


message 43: by Bill (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 224 comments Lily wrote, "Is James being fairly romantic about his presentation of Milly in WotD? Has he made her excessively sweet, naive, innocent?"

I think James is canonizing her, and it bothers me. Perhaps one reason I like Kate is her counterpoint to Milly's sweetness and naivete. I also am sympathetic to her position.

But the Kate before Densher is off to America is a somewhat different Kate than the later chapters.


message 44: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Mmmm...Perhaps Aunt Maude just sewed the fertile seeds.


message 45: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments I think James is canonizing her, and it bothers me.

I agree and it makes me look for flaws. However, I can't warm to Kate because she is so deceptive. I have no sympathy with her impecunity and want to yell at her 'Get a job!' whereas I can't yell at Milly 'Get better!'


message 46: by Bill (last edited Apr 03, 2012 01:41PM) (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 224 comments I'm not sure what you mean Madge -- planted the seeds for what? Surely, Maud wouldn't want Densher to become wealthy. She's not interested in wealth for Kate -- she can supply money.

I think Kate's sister has it right when she conveys them to Milly:

"But Mrs. Condrip's own great point is that Aunt Maud herself won't hear of any such person. Mr. Densher, she holds that's the way, at any rate, it was explained to me—won't ever be either a public man or a rich man. If he were public she'd be willing, as I understand, to help him; if he were rich—without being anything else—she'd do her best to swallow him. As it is, she taboos him." "In short," said Mrs. Stringham

James, Henry (2011-03-24). The Wings of the Dove, Volume 1 of 2 (p. 215). Kindle Edition.

She'll put up with a rich man, I surmise, because she has no choice. She can't threaten Kate with not supporting her if her husband is rich. But from Maud's point of view, it's a waste of Kate's potential.

I don't know exactly what being a "public" man means to Maud, and I don't know that James is ever more specific. But this seems to be it, not an title -- unless the title makes one "public".

I presume this would give Maud, in her own mind anyway, reflected glory.

More to the point, it might give her access -- to what I'm not sure. Invitations she might not otherwise have? Parties with the important men of the day? Invitations, perhaps, to court? I don't know. What I know of British social history in the early twentieth sure wouldn't fill a measuring spoon.

I did think it was interesting that a title didn't seem to come into the calculation -- unless being public was the result of the title.

She is betting on Lord Mark the way someone might invest in a young artist whom one thinks will be highly desired one day. The irony is that she may well be wrong.


message 47: by Silver (new)

Silver MadgeUK wrote: I agree and it makes me look for flaws. However, I can't warm to Kate because she is so deceptive. I have no sympathy with her impecunity and want to yell at her 'Get a job!' whereas I can't yell at Milly 'Get better!' ..."

Though genreally speaking women of this period of time did not get jobs, they got husbands.


message 48: by Bill (last edited Apr 03, 2012 01:45PM) (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 224 comments Silver wrote: "MadgeUK wrote: I agree and it makes me look for flaws. However, I can't warm to Kate because she is so deceptive. I have no sympathy with her impecunity and want to yell at her 'Get a job!' whereas..."

And in particular of her class. There might have been work for her, were she poorer. But there is a family name here, a status, which was compromised by the horrific Mr. Densher.

As for Milly, I want her to be yelling at James, "I'm not Minny Temple -- and frankly I doubt even she was as perfect as Milly Theale. Give me some flaws!!!"

Kate couldn't get a job. Milly might have refused to be written as James wanted her to be. She might have gone on strike. But that was, of course, before characters began to unionize. :-)


message 49: by Silver (new)

Silver MadgeUK wrote: "Mmmm...Perhaps Aunt Maude just sewed the fertile seeds."

I also could not help but wonder if Milly tole Lord Mark that Kate had no feelings for Densher, for much the same reason that Aunt Maud implies such to Milly. Because Milly does not want Lord Mark discouraged from courting Kate, hoping a connection between Kate and Lord Mark would free Densher up for herself.

For she does not outright say that Kate told her that she had no feelings for anyone else, but rather she insinuates it and when Lord Mark further questions her on it, she seems to hesitate in her responses giving somewhat vague and allusive replies.


message 50: by Lily (last edited Apr 03, 2012 06:09PM) (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 2578 comments Somehow, I see Milly as a woman with definite flaws. My perception is that she, for some reason that I have not figured out, "fell" for Denscher back in New York. I think she fully recognizes at some intuitive level that Kate loves Denscher, but Milly isn't about to acknowledge such, because it isn't in her own interest.

She can be a trifle more realistic about Lord Mark, somehow, because she can hold him at a bit more distance. She doesn't "need" him, although he could be nice to have around; rather, he needs her.

As for Sir Strett, Milly's self indulgence in her ability to charm him is simply fun to observe. Now, what about her relationships with Susan and Maud? More complicated?


« previous 1 3 4
back to top

37567

The Readers Review: Literature from 1800 to 1910

unread topics | mark unread


Books mentioned in this topic

The Buccaneers (other topics)
Henry James; A Collection of Critical Essays (other topics)