|Plot Summary of Washington Square|
Washington Square describes the adult life of Catherine Sloper, daughter of a wealthy, intense, intelligent and sarcastic father and a brilliantly beautiful mother who died soon after childbirth. She is raised by her father and his sister, a meddling and overly romantic widow. Unfortunately for Catherine, she is neither clever nor beautiful and her father notes this, but little else about her.
The setting, 19th Century New York, finds Catherine unmarried by the age of 22 - approaching old maid-hood for that era. Her life is brightened by a young interloper named Moriss Townsend, who endears himself to her because he is charmed by her future prospescts of immense wealth.
Dr. Sloper takes an almost immediate dislike to Mr. Townsend and forbids his daughter to marry, informing her she will be disinherited of her money should she go against his wishes. This idea diminishes her charm for Mr. Townsend. When he breaks off their engagement in a cruel way, Dr. Sloper finds out and he gloats.
The last portion of the book follows Catherine's independent life as a spinster. Her Aunt, in a cruel twist, introduces Mr. Townsend back into Catherine's life during their middle age.
This synopsis report prepared by Suze
In Washington Square, Henry James put his awesome powers of psychological examination into service to portray the effect of a wise, but hard-hearted father on his sensitive and naive daughter. She is wooed by a man whom the father is certain wants only her money and he makes clear that he will withhold said money at his death should she marry him. She desires the marriage anyway and is very hurt when her lover pulls back (regardless of his excuses - he validates her father's judgment of him). In the end, after the father is dead, he tries again and her rebuke of him is powerful and priceless - as well as sorrowful - since it locks her into a life of loneliness.
This synopsis report prepared by Kelly Whiting
|Chapter Analysis of Washington Square|
Ratings are on a 1-10 scale (Low to High)
Time/era of story
- 19th century
- very shy/inexperienced
If one lover chases another...
- they alternate
Main Male Character
- Extremely cynical or arrogant
Main Female Character
- Super sensitive soggy jelly muffin
- Very shy
- New York
- Fancy Mansion
Accounts of torture and death?
- no torture/death
What % of story is romance related?
Focus of story
How much dialog
- mostly dialog
- roughly even amounts of descript and dialog
Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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