Team Madame Merle

  1. October 14, 2016 @ 11:30 am David Greven

    Thanks for this bracing intervention in Serena Merle’s reception. I think that the key to James’ characterization is the description of her as a “proud penitent”in her final scene.


  2. October 14, 2016 @ 2:18 pm Ben Parker

    It is easy for Madame Merle to be “proven right” about everything she is selling Isabel here. But this is not because of her superior experience or perception, but because she is conning and manipulating. She is like a gambler who has fixed the match; of course her predictions come out right.


    • October 14, 2016 @ 4:41 pm Pam Thurschwell

      True– I would never deny that she is powerful and manipulative. But I think she’s responding to an even bigger fix, and I don’t think James lets us forget that, especially with her ending.


  3. October 16, 2016 @ 5:17 am Sorry, Legitimate Saxophone Enthusiasts - News

    […] Magnificently #slatepitchy defense of Henry James’s greatest villainess […]


  4. November 11, 2016 @ 5:30 am NICHOLAS RUAN

    I believe you have seen the film. James Campion makes Madame Merle a much more sympathetic character than Henry James. Her film is truly a feminist revision of James’ novel. As for James himself, I think his aim was more of to critique the bourgeoisies who use art as a pretense (surprisingly, it’s very applicable to today’s society) rather than to sympathise with women. But of course, given how richly characterized his women were, his story must spark fire in the eyes of feminists, no matter what.



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