|Overview of the Development
Essentially the first four books introduce the characters and some of the
initial issues driving the story:
- Kate and Densher are unable to be married because he has no real
means of support.
- Kate is dependent upon Maud for support, and Maud wishes to marry
Kate to someone who will advance both Kate and Maud's position.
- Milly is the last of a line of a wealthy New York family; she is ill,
and Susan Stringham has agreed to introduce Milly to cultured, European society.
1.1--the first book is essentially from Kate's perspective. We begin
with Lionel's effect upon Kate, the dark, sordidness of his surroundings, and Lionel's
complicated stance towards Kate's small inheritance. We learn of Aunt Maud's offer
to take in Kate if she will cut off relations with her family, and we find out that Kate
1.2--We are treated to Kate's view of Maud; we learn of Marion's
situation and how she urges Kate to accept Maud's conditions
2.1--We are introduced to Densher's view of the situation, to how
Kate and Densher met, Maud's testing and disapproval of Densher because he lacks money or
reputation, and more of the effect of Kate's past on her.
2.2--We are more exposed to the imperious nature of Maud, Densher's
sense of how he fails to measure up to her plans, and Densher's trip to America.. We
also see Kate and Densher's pledge of love.
3.1--We now shift to Susan Stringham's perspective. We learn
of Milly's riches and beauty, that she is the "final flower" of a certain New
York type, and that she is likened to a princess. Stringham sees her role as
bringing culture to such a person.
3.2--We receive the first hint of Milly's illness, which perhaps
explains her desire to leave the Alps and go to London to be with people. Stringham
decides to call on an old Swiss school friendship with Maud.
4.1--We find Milly and Susan at Maud's. We now switch to
Milly's perspective. She conceives of everything as a kind of fairy tale. This
is contrasted with Lord Mark's more pragmatic, cynical view of things. Milly becomes
conscious of her success: she is willing to play up to their expectations for her as an
4.2--The way Milly and Susan romanticize the situation is further
developed. Kate in particular is conceived as a British heroine.
4.3--Densher is reintroduced. We learn that Milly had met him
in America, and we receive our first hints that she is attracted to him. Maud
convinces Milly to sound out Kate about the state of Densher's attractions to the later.
Milly's view of Kate begins to be more complicated.
Observations on and Questions about Select Passages
21-22: How does the atmosphere of Lionel's house effect Kate?
How is her beauty contrasted to it?
29b: How does family feeling require one to "use" family
35-36t: How does the material world speak to Kate? What does
this reveal about her?
36b-37, 60: Maud is described as a looming presence, a lioness,
Britannia, and a gilded eagle. What does these metaphors suggest about her and her
46-47: What do we learn of Densher's nature and character? How does
it contrast with Kate's?
57: How does Lionel's dishonor impact Kate? How does Kate view
her family? How does this view drive her?
62-63: Maud's large, vulgar, magnificent furnishing reveal her power
and character. What do they suggest?
66: How does Densher understand Maud's response to him?
76, 79-80, 81 (cf. 5-6): What do we learn of Milly's heritage and
state? What is her effect on others?
84-86, 94, 113: Note how Milly is variously described as a princess
with her social conditions and privileges.
87b-88: Note how Milly is described like Christ looking at the
kingdoms of the earth. What is James trying to suggest by this?
97, 98b-99: Note how Milly conceives of matters in a fairy tale
102: According to Lord Mark, Milly is "something to give."
104-105: Milly's growing consciousness of her success and
108b-109: Milly willing to live up to others' perceptions of her.
What does this suggest both about how she is conceived and why she does this?
111-112: Kate is conceived as a typical British woman, as well as a
fictional heroine with a dark secret.
117: Milly begins to understand Kate's self-serving nature.
120: Milly wants labyrinths. Why?