Washington Square

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade October 2001

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How does one deal with the torment of having to choose between two people she dearly loves? At what cost is such a decision made? These are the difficult struggles with which the protagonist of Henry James', "Washington Square"� is faced. Catherine's character is portrayed as a plain, inept, lonely, and dependent girl, who is manipulated by the same people, which she holds closest to her. Only at the end of his tale does the author reveal to the reader what they have been waiting patiently to find out, the development of Catherine's character where she finally becomes her own person.

Catherine's conflict is illustrated in the responsibility she feels toward her father, and the commitment to her lover, Morris Townsend. Having no alternative but to pick between the two men in her life, she ultimately does so, only to discover she has made the wrong choice.

Having gone against her fathers will, all hope he held for this disgrace of a daughter wilts away. Even after she is crudely deserted by the love of her life he continues his life ignorant of her spirit and never coming to trust her understanding of Morris' immoral character. Hurt deeply by both her lover and her father, our protagonist resolves to refrain from opening up her heart again. Having such a large fragment of her life left empty, she feels it her duty to try and fill the void, succeeding at last by becoming an inevitable figure at all respectable entertainments.

The author introduces us to a variety of themes, through which we are able to completely experience his novel. Loyalty is wonderfully brought across through Catherine's actions and attitudes, as one of the main themes in the story. An important transition is observed from Catherine's...

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