Evil In The Portrait Of A Lady: The Existentialist James

By:
To add a paper, Login.

Any study of Henry James’s literary success should focus not merely on his structural perfection, but also on his psychological interests and existentialist inner portrayals. In his fiction, he reflects his philosophy and visions which strikes him as being. It is with the purpose of analyzing James’s philosophy on life that I have undertaken the present exploration of evil in his novel, The Portrait of A Lady. The perception of life presented by the novel is very similar to that put forth by the existential movement since it reveals James’s entire commitment to the efficiency of that thought and that experience which are acquired via living evil.

In The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James presents the individual development of Isabel Archer. She passionately devotes herself to her campaign to live, that is, to become conscious; for, in James’s world, the highest affirmation of life is the development of the subtlest and most varied consciousness. In doing so, he introduces her to an evil which is convoluted, corrupting and grim. His novel is informed with the tragic view of life and his expatriate heroine appears to have an extraordinary process of volition and will. Her ardent and voracious desire for fuller consciousness leads her, in an illusion of ideal freedom to choose only “the best” in experience, to choose an evil; but ultimately it is the knowledge of evil that, by providing insight through suffering and loss, provides access to life and her inner self.


Keywords: The Meaning of Life, Existentialism, Evil, Pessimistic Manner, Inner Self, Suffering, Experience, Knowledge, Become Conscious
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Evil In The Portrait of a Lady


Görkem Satak

Instructor, EFL Department, Isık University
Istanbul, Turkey


Ref: H08P0635