Patterns of imagery and figurative language in the novels of Henry James, with special reference to The Ambassadors, The Wings of the dove, and The Golden bowl

Saner, John Sutherland
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The central purpose of this dissertation is to set out and analyse James's use of the image-pattern as a stylistic device in the novels. Through constantly regarding the imagery as complementary to theme, it emerges that James's technique in his employment of imagery progresses from an early, rather simple form to the highly complex and mature state of the final novels. In these final works, it is submitted, James's art, especially in the field of imagery, reaches its zenith. In the Introduction, imagery is defined and stress is laid upon the necessity for always examining imagery within its context in the novel. It is repeatedly averred that the value of imagery should emerge primarily from its function as part of the work of art, and not as a result of any preconceived ideas as to its nature. Also explained in this section of the dissertation are the reasons for choosing the novels actually selected for close Scrutiny. Chapter One contains a survey of critical attitudes to James's use of imagery. It "here becomes apparent that those critics concentrating closest upon the texts themselves, approach most nearly the true character of the various image-patterns. Roderick Hudson and The American are examined in the first part of Chapter Two, and both are seen to contain images predominantly twodimensional and relatively simple, although small advances in technique are perceptible in the later Work. In part two, the image-patterns of The Portrait of a Lady are seen to possess a density and complexity not apparent in any previous novel> but The Old Things, written after The Portrait, displays a lack of cohesion within its image-structure. This disparate quality of the imagery is demonstrated to be at variance with the book's tightly woven thematic content. In Chapters Three, Four and Five, a very close examination of the image-patterns in The Ambassadors, The Wings of the Dove and The Golden Bowl is undertaken in order to show the progress James made as he advanced from his earlier works, and also the final maturity he achieved in his use of the image. In the Conclusion the various findings of the dissertation are drawn together. It is then pointed out how James's concept of the image as a stylistic device is linked to his major themes in a more general and universal sense than merely within the works themselves; in short, that the image-pattern is one of the most rewarding avenues of approach in the examination of James's art.
A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of Arts University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg for the Degree of Master of Arts. Johannesburg, 1976