Henry James is one of the most prominent American novelists. In spite of a great novelist, he was also one of the important theorists of the novel whose theories were effective in the field of novel. He is mostly famous for his international novels through which he practiced the international theme of ‘America versus Europe’. Through this international theme, James depicts the contrast between America and Europe in his works, while it was defined as the duty of American writers of his days to write about this contrast to show America as separated and distinguished from Europe. The Portrait of a Lady is generally accepted to be James’ masterpiece. In this novel James practices his international them professionally through his common basic pattern of bringing an American young lady into a European society to show the contrast between America and Europe. This American lady in this novel is the heroine, Isabel Archer, who comes to Europe in the search of a better life and a high culture, but finally is deceived by sophisticated Europeans as the result of her innocence. Actually one of the main contrasts shown in this novel is the conflict between American innocence and European sophistication or high culture. This study is going to discuss that one part of this conflict is represented by James through some symbolic characters in this novel. The study is going to focus on Madam Merle and Ralph, and aims to discuss that it is through Isabel’s interaction with these symbolic characters that one part of the contrast between America and Europe is depicted.
International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences (Volume 33)
D. M. Moghadam and W. R. Wan Yahya, "Depicting the Contrast between America and Europe through Symbolic Characters in The Portrait of a Lady", International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences, Vol. 33, pp. 15-19, 2014