by Richard Sever >/

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of A rts in the Department of English Fresno State College January, 1971 TABLE OF CONTENTS

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There is a whiteness in The Golden Bowl like the whiteness of 's whale, which "has been made the symbol of divine spotlessness and power . .. yet for all these accumulated associations, with whatever is sweet, and honorable, and sublime, there yet lurks an elusive something in the innermost idea of this hue, which strikes more of panic to the soul than that redness which affrights in blood.""' In The Golden Bowl Prince Amerigo finds it difficult to fathom the ostensible goodness and purity of the motives of the Americans, the Ververs and the Assinghams: These things, the motives of such people, were obscure-- a little alarmingly so; they contributed to that element of the impenetrable which alone slightly qualified his sense of his good fortune. He remembered to have read, as a boy, a wonderful tale by Allan Poe, his prospective wife's countryman--which was a thing to show, by the way, what imagination Americans could have; the story of the shipwrecked Gordon Pym, who drifting in a small boat further toward the North Pole--or was it the South?--than anyone had ever done, found at a given moment before him a thickness of white air that was like a dazzling curtain of light, concealing as darkness conceals, yet of the colour of milk or of snow. There were moments when he

^"Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or the Whale (New York: Bobbs-Merrill Co. Inc., 1964), pp. 254-55. 2 felt his own boat move upon some such mystery. The state or mmd ot his new friends including Mrs. Assingham her- sel , had resemblances to a great white curtain.^ The Ververs and Assinghams, the Prince notes, with their American good faith" (p. 22), have made a "bland, blank assumption of [his] merits almost beyond notation, of essential quality and value" (p. 30), taking it for granted that he is a good prospective mate for Maggie. The Prince knows that he is to "constitute a possession" (p. 30) for the Ververs, as if he had been some old embossed coin, of a purity of gold no longer used, stamped with glorious arms, mediaeval, wonderful, of which the 'worth' in mere modern change, sovereigns and half-crowns, would be great enough, but as to which since there were finer ways of using it, such taking to pieces was superfluous" (p. 30). As merely a rare "piece," Amerigo cannot see their "degree of seriousness" in wanting to possess him--this is the element "lost there in the white mist" (p. 30). "What was," Amerigo asks, "morally speaking, behind their veil?" (p. 30). What did they expect him to do as Maggie's husband in exchange for their money? This question occupies his mind as he travels to Cadogan Place, and at the Assinghams he feels that he has come "a little nearer the shroud" (p. 31). Mrs. Assingham tells Amerigo that since his marriage to Maggie is assured he is "practically

2Henry James, The Golden Bowl, Laurel Series (New York: Dell Publishing Co. Inc., 1963), p. 29. Subsequent refer­ ences are to this edition. 3 in port. The port ... of the Golden Isles" (p. 33); but it comes, her and serenity, "from behind the white curtain" (p. 32), and worries instead of soothes him. Like Gordon Pym, Ishmael, and his ancestor Amerigo Vespucci, he sees himself "starting on the great voyage-- across the unknown sea" (p. 32). Instead of an American discovering the mysteries behind the veils of Europeans—as in the journeys of Christopher Newman, Lambert Strether, and Milly Theale--Amerigo, an Italian, sets out to understand Americans. He believes that in order to escape futility he must seek out a "new world," just as his ancestor, "in the wake of Columbus" (p. 66), had done. Arrogance and greed, Amerigo admits, are the dominant themes in his national history, but with the Americans he can now begin a new life that will exclude the vices of his native Rome. Amerigo is intrigued by Mr. Verver's extensive bank account, yet he "humbly" commits himself to use the money to "make something different" (p. 26). With Adam's money, and with the old superstitions of Euro pe left behind, Amerigo's life "might be scientific": He was allying himself to science, for what was science but the absence of prejudice backed by the presence of mone}^? His life would be full of machinery, which was the antidote to superstition, which was in its turn, too much the consequence, or at least the exhalation, of archives. He thought of these things--of his not being at all events futile, and of his absolute accept­ ance of the developments of the coming age--to redress the balance of his being so differently considered. (P. 26) 4 Prince Amerigo recognizes that machinery, the product of American capital, attenuates the magical powers of super­ stition, ana superstition, he believes, was responsible for much numan wickedness--the "doings, the marriages, the crimes, the follies, the boundless betises of other people" (p. 21)— in his antenatal history" (p. 25). Amerigo has a candid good faith in the machinery of this new science, for "he was of them now, of the rich peoples; he was on their side--if it wasn't rather the pleasanter way of putting it that they were on his" (p. 26).

But the figures who will people his new world of riches are treating him without the amount of caution he feels should be shown toward someone of his background, and this lack of skepticism in the Americans makes him uneasy. His position puzzles him, for he is to inherit a large fortune without being subjected to close personal scrutiny—the Verver's and the Assingham's have somehow calculated his value without regard to his "unknown quantity," his "particular self" (p. 21). He openly admits his pecuniary motives, seeing that there are excellent possibilities for making his nobility solvent, but he also sees that his prospects for fulfillment depend upon validity of their high calculation of his value. Will his manners, his charm, his beautiful Roman countenance, suffice in exchange for their money? Or, if the Americans have miscalculated, will he be required to sacrifice a part of himself to conform to their idea of beauty? 5

Ameri0o has imagined himself afloat in an aromatic ocean where Maggie Verver's innocence "sweetened the waters . . . tinted them as by the action of some essence, poured

from a gold-topped phial ..." (p. 21); but he senses that sucn a position might involve sinking as well as float­ ing, and, m order to remain near solid ground, he must correctly gauge the depth of the waters and skillfully navi­ gate in the narrow straits. So Amerigo does not see himself in port , he feels that he is fac ed with the consequences of understanding the Americans or being swept out t o sea, and ne must prepare himself for a journey of discovery in spite of the temptation, offered by Mrs. Assingham, to accept the Verver s innocent endorsement. The Prince has promised Ma-ggie that he doe s not "lie or dissemble or deceive" (p. 24), and he intends to keep this promise. As the Prince begins his "journey" he is haunted by a figure from the old world, the world he has vowed to leave behind. Charlotte Stant, a woman with whom the Prince has had an affair, comes to London. Seen by Mrs. Assingham as a person "whose looks are most subject to appreciation" (p. 41); Charlotte is a "tall, strong, charming girl" (p. 44), whose life style, the Prince sees, "is irretrievably contem­ poraneous with his own" (p. 45). Charlotte is "strong- minded" (p. 44), but this trait does not correspond to the strong-willed, English-speaking stereotype--girls from whom Amerigo has learned to expect a negative response. The 6 Prince, rather, "has his own view of this young lady's

strength of mind (p. 44). 0f American parentage, but born m Florence, Charlotte has "a perfect felicity in the use of Italian" (p. 50); "her parents [are] from the great country [America], but themselves already of a corrupt generation, demoralized, falsified, polygot well before her" (p. 51). So Charlotte displays none of the mysterious whiteness attributed to the other Americans, and Amerigo insists "that some strictly civil ancestor—generations back, and from the Tuscan hills if she would—made himself felt, ineffaceably, in her blood and in her tone" (p. 51). Because of this strain or European blood in Charlotte, it is easy for the Prince to establish a coherent attitude toward her. When he first sees Charlotte at Cadogan Place, to where she has just returned from a trip to America, he "saw again that her hair was vulgarly speaking, brown, but there was a shade of tawny autumn leaf in it, for 'appreciation' --a colour indescribable and of which he had known no other case, something that gave her at moments the sylvan head of a huntress" (p. 45). Suggesting a dusky Diana--Amerigo's "notion, perhaps not wholly correct, of a muse" (p. 46)— Charlotte is not only strong-willed but aggressive, and she is capable of initiating and directing a sexual relationship with a man. Charlotte's assertive sensuality is like that of the sexually potent European females Amerigo has known; and in his previous affairs he has felt it necessary to recognize 7 an occult consistency in these women. Seeing Charlotte again reminds Amerigo of this mysterious consistency: Once more, as a man conscious of having known many women, he could assist, as he would have called it, at the recurrent, the predestined phenomenon, the thing always as certain as sunrise or the coming round of Saints' days, the doing by the woman of the thing that gave her away. ^ She did it, ever, inevitably, infallibly--she couldn t possibly not do it. It was her nature, it was her life, and the man could always expect it w ithout lifting a finger. This was his, the man's, any man's, position and strength—that he had necessarily the advan­ tage, that he only had to wait, with a decent patience, to be placed, in spite of himself, it might really be said, in the right. Just so the punctuality of perfor­ mance on the part of the other creature was her weakness and her deep mis fortune--not less, no doubt, than her beauty. It p roduced for the man that extraordinary mixture of pity and profit in which his relation with her, when he was not a mere brute, mainly consisted; and gave him in fact his most pertinent ground of being always nice to her, nice about her, nice for her. She always dressed her act up, of course, she muffled and disguised and arranged it, showing in fact in these dissimulations a cleverness equal to but one thing in the world, equal to her abjection; she would let it be known for anything, for everything, but the truth of which it was made. (P. 47) For Amerigo the woman is innately, beautifully the sexual aggressor. As an experienced Roman lover, he believes that the European woman's assertiveness is owing to her incomparable fertility. Her fertility—manifest in her as a recurrence that is in conjunction with phases of tne moon—— is mysteriously controlled by Nature. Governed by the cyclic forces of Nature, tne woman Is instinctively a preda­ tor, unable to control her animal appetites. For Amerigo this state constitutes the woman s abjection, makes her a 8 pitiable creature, and puts the male in a fortunate position. So Amerigo's "notion of a recompense to women--similar in this to his notion of an appeal--was more or less to make love to them" (p. 29)—a gentleman has an obligation to show compassion for women by satisfying their sexual needs. Amerigo is thus constitutionally unable to ignore Charlotte's passionate advances, for his relationship with her has been and muse now be " a perfect accord between conduct and obliga­ tion" (p. 48).

Charlotte s intention, however, as Amerigo sees it when he and Charlotte secretly meet in Hyde Park, is to release him from her power. "What she gave touched him, as she faced him, for it was the full tune of her renouncing. She really renounced--renounced everything, and without even insisting now on what it had all been for her" (p. 77). Charlotte, for whom "it was impossible to get in America what [she] wanted" (p. 54), assures the Prince that in light of his commitment to Maggie she has only come to London to buy a wedding present as a symbol of her self-effacement. Confident that he is now relieved from his gentlemanly obli­ gations to Charlotte, Amerigo "clutched ... at what he could best clutch at--the fact that she let him off, definitely let him off" (p. 79). The golden bowl, which Charlotte later wants to buy, is rejected by Amerigo because he feels its flawed presence would be a constant reminder of his obliga­ tion to Charlotte; what Amerigo calls his "safety" (p. 93), 9 and his pr ospects for happiness, depend on his freedom from tne obligations, the dark necessities of Europe. But after Charlotte's marriage to Adam, Amerigo and his new mother-in-law are forced "against their will into a relation of mutual close contact that they had done everything to avoid (p. 198), and the Prince finds himself forced to recognize the old obligations. "Living . . . four orfive years, on Mr. Verver's services" (p. 200), Amerigo becomes bored with the London treadmill" (p. 216), and, as Colonel Assingham notes, is in a position in which he has nothing in life to do" (p. 190). Before long, Charlotte appears in Portland Place to the languorous Prince "panting ... at the door of the room" in a "dull dress and black Bowdlerised hat that seemed to make a point of insisting on their time of life and their moral intention" (p. 203). At Matcham, where Amerigo and Charlotte eventually consummate their renewed passion, the Prince theorizes that the adultery has been perpetrated by his wife's and his father-in-law's apathy and ignorance. Mrs. Assingham, from whom he had previously sought assurance and guidance in his "journey," has failed him: she is shocked at Amerigo's "quintessential wink" (p. 186), and she flies "the black flag of general repudiation" (p. 185) concerning the erotic impli­ cations of his and Charlotte's proximity. But Maggie's and Adam's own renewed intimacy (epitomized by the Principino being "converted . . . into a link between mama and grandpapa" 10 [p. 115], suggesting an incestuous relationship between Adam and Maggie), causes Amerigo to exclaim that "the mysteries and expectations an d assumptions still contain an immense element that [he has] failed to puzzle out" (p. 188). At Matcham Amerigo sees that with the aid of "a bottomless bag of solid shining British sovereigns" (p. 226), his life is directed toward s ensual enjoyment--enjoyment innocently financed and seemingly sanctioned by his wife and her father. This freedom provided by Adam's money is a state that Amerigo relishes with amusement: Being thrust, systematically, with another woman, and a woman one happened, by the same token, exceedingly to like, and being so thrust that the theory of it seemed to publish one as idiotic or incapable--this was a pre­ dicament of which the dignity depended all on one's own handling. What was supremely grotesque, in fact, was the essential opposition of theories--as if a galan- tuomo, as ha at least constitutionally conceived galantuomini, could do anything but blush to go about at such a rate with such a person as Mrs. Verver in a state of childlike innocence, the state of our primitive parents before the Fall. (P. 227) Amerigo does not have anything like a guilty conscience in regard to his affair with his mother-in-law; his situation is rather so extreme, to his mind, that if he failed to take advantage of it h e would be branded as ungracious or sense­ less. Underlying his amusement is a "resurgent unrest" (p. 227), an irritation at his wife's near transcendent stupidity, for "it has taken poor Maggie to invent a way so extremely unusual" (p. 227), to relieve him of his boredom. In addition to this amusement and irritation is a constitutional 11 fear of being ungra teful to or incompetent with a woman. The Prince's honor is at stake, for "deep in the bosom of this falsity of position glowed the red spark of his inex­ tinguishable sense of a higher and braver propriety" (p. 227) a woman like Charlotte wants, even demands, to be sexually fulfilled, and Amerigo is forced by his European sense of chivo.^.ry lo oolige h er. "There were situations that were ridiculous," Amerigo concludes, "but that one couldn't yet help" (p. 227).

After the Assinghams have left Matcham and have become irrelevant to the scene" (p. 237), Amerigo allows Charlotte to arrange their sexual encounter down to specific times on a train schedule. I go, as you know, by my superstitions" (p. 243), says Amerigo, and he accepts her dominance of him "as from the mere momentary spell of her" (p. 245). The Prince accordingly satisfies Charlotte by allowing her to act out her predetermined scheme, and he feels afterward that he has "gained more from women than he had ever lost by them . . .what were they doing at this very moment, wonderful creatures, but combining and conspiring for his advantage?" (p. 237). Maggie had definitely arranged Adam's marriage to Charlotte, and now she has ostensibly arranged Amerigo's adultery, precipitating Charlotte's "arranging"; and so, as to his present state of extramarital bliss at Matcham, Amerigo says "no union in the world has ever been more sweetened with rightness" (p. 241). 12 The Prince's adultery has been candidly committed (on a train, in the daylight) in contrast to "the droll ambiguity of English relations" (p. 239). The British, the Prince notes, "didn't like les situations nettes ... it was their national genius to avoid them at every point" (p. 239); yet, as m the case of Lady Castledean and her lover Mr. Blint, they also deceitfully indulge in adultery (they directly condone it in Amerigo's case). So the permissive English attitude toward adultery is one o f outright hypocrisy because it is a violation of their professed moral code--a code which Amerigo openly dispenses with. Amerigo has previously observed L.his moral sopnistry, but it was at the same time prec isely why even much initiation left one, at given moments so puzzled as to the element of staleness in all the freshness and of freshness in all the staleness, of innocence in the guilt and of guilt in the innocence" (p. 240). Unlike the British, the Americans are innocent, so their acquiescence is not hypocritical--their misconduct is a result of attempting virtuousness in abject ignorance. They are incapable of adultery themselves and consequently unable to even suspect it in anyone else; and the fruition of their innocent idealism is that Amerigo is able to trans­ late their apathy into "a vicarious good conscience, culti­ vated ingeniously on his behalf (p. 226). He can only conclude that t he ostensible moral rectitude of the Americans has worked very well toward the satisfaction of his sexual appetite, as "he hadn't struggled nor snatched; he was taking but what had been given him" (p. 242).

So Amerigo, in trying to see behind the whiteness of the Americans, is confronted with "a mere dead wall, a lapse of logic, a confirmed bewilderment" (p. 240). In an attempt to choose the most reasonable alternative as to what they expect of him i n exchange for their financial support, he repays them by committing adultery with his mother-in-law, thinking that this is what they want him to do. He accordingly feels an exquisite sense of complicity" (p. 228) with Charlotte, based upon his assumption that, intellectually, the Ververs are simply "good children, bless their hearts, and the children of good children; so that verily, the Principino himself, as less consistently of that descent, might figure to the fancy as the ripest genius of the trio" (pp. 226-27). Charlotte, the passionate, corrupt, sensual woman, becomes the willing consort for Amerigo's voyage into white­ ness; but because of the enigmatic quality of attitude, the two adventurers become, in their own way, innocent--they are innocent in their apparent disregard of the evil that lies hidden behind the white mist of Americ an money and innocence ; and at the same time they are given no real choices, for "a single turn of the wrist of fate" places Amerigo and Charlotte "face to face in a freedom that partook, extraordinarily of perfection, since the magic web had spun itspTf *. ui pan itself without their toil, almost without their touch" (pp. 203-204). They become, in the face of the encompassing white mist, as Mrs. Assingham states, "mere helpless victims of fate" (p. 263). II


The mysterious whiteness which the Prince attributes to the Americans, and the ambiguous system of American morals that allows virtuousness to condone adultery, are both exemplified by t he visionary Adam Verver. Mr. Verver intends to build a temple of art in a remote American city which is presently smothered by ignorance. He describes his planned place of wors hip as a structure where "the highest knowledge would shine out to bless the land" (p. 108); but he admits that his vulgarly amassing a fortune was necessary for his supreme idea: "the years of darkness had been needed to render possible the years of light" (p. 107)--during these dark years he admittedly "had wrought by devious ways" (p. 108). "This amiable man" (p. 95) has acquired great wealth at such an early age that it argued a special genius; he was clearly a case of that. The spark of fire, the point of light, sat somewhere in his inward vagueness as a lamp before a shrine twinkles in the dark perspective of a church; and while youth and early middle age, while the seitr American breeze of example and oDportunity were blowing upon it hard, haa made of the chamber of his brain a strange workshop of fortune. This establishment, mysterious and almost anonymous, the windows of which, at hours of highesu pressure, never seemed, for starers and won erers, per ceptibly to glow, must in fact have been during certain years the scene of an unprecedented, a miraculous 16 practicallv Produ"ng which it was have communicated ® ^St" °f ChG forSe could not (p! 96) ™ "lth the best of intentions.

In this passage there is a mingling of images of machine-age technology ("chamber," "pressure," "white-heat," "forge") with the metaphor of a church. The above explana­ tion of Adam s rise to power is admittedly vague, for it is called a dim explanation of phenomena once vivid" (p. 97); but the importance of this explanation, as it applies to Amerigo s contemplation of the American mystery, is its suggestion that in Adam's obscure American background a passion for the pursuit of money was miraculously transformed into a religious fervor. Since it is a product of Amerigo's world, and consequently, the "miraculous white-heat" has forged in Adam a chilling, machine-like reserve and refine­ ment: The essential pulse of the flame, the very action of the cerebral temperature, brought to the highest point, yet extraordinarily contained—these facts themselves were the immensity of the result; they were one with perfection of machinery, they had constituted the kind of acquisitive power engendered and applied, the neces­ sary triumph of all operations, (f. 97) Adam's inhuman reserve causes him to be inscrutably monotonous behind an iridescent cloud,' a white misu that is "his native envelope" (p. 97). He is now a retired American millionaire in Europe, but his religious fervor will have, in application, a machine-like efficiency and power to somehow transform artifacts oi ru-ope in-o a new 17 "civilization condensed ' -onc^ete, consummate" (p. 108);

furthermore, he expects ua that hls new temple will surpass, as a disseminator of aestheaestl-ieftic-i^ beauty<- andi practical wisdom, anything yet achieved by the great seers who have come before him: "He was a plain American citizen ... but no Pope, no prince of them all had read a richer meaning, he believed, into the character of the Patron of Art" (p. 111). As an enlightened American, then, Adam Verver aches to release his countrymen from "the bondage of ugliness" (p. 108), but he is s een by Amerigo as shrouded in whiteness because his dedication to aesthetic beauty leads to a moral inconsistency. For Adam, from behind his shroud, is so monotonously efficient that he finds it necessary to treat human beings as commodities: Nothing perhaps might affect us as queerer, had we time to look into it, than Adam's application of the same measure of value to such different pieces of prop erty as old Persian carpets, say, and new human acquisitions; all the more indeed that the amiable man was not without an inkling, on his own side, that he was, as a taster of life, economically constructed (p. 141). Mr. Verver's former, religious pursuit of money, where he saw "acquisition of one sort as a perfect preliminary to acquisition of another" (p. 107), is easily accommodated to his present vision of aesthetic perfection. Adam has purchased Amerigo for his daughter in conjunction with the Bernadino Luini he had happened to come to knowledge of at the time" (p. 141), and this confusion of the human and the artistic has replaced his former concern for high profit. 18 Adam now "dreaded the imputaimnnt-ationi-4^ ofe greed" (p, . 99), for he does not act from self— interi"nt~P7~est,AQt- *butk +- forjz hisi daughter and

his country. So Mr. Verver'q Q1-nn.lA • , , £r s smg 1em mdedness, his strict dedication to a vision, "his accepted monomania" (p. 151), makes him appear in Amerigo's superstitious mind as a kind of modern wizard who, having been "struck with Keats's sonnet about stout Cortez in the presence of the Pacific" (p. 105), plans to "rifle the Golden Isles" (p. 105), as a modern Alexander furnished with the spoils of Darius" (p. 27). The resultant evil, this rifling and spoiling Amerigo sees, does not stem from arrogance and greed; it is rather that Adam s id ealistic passion does not take into considera­ tion the true essense of the culture he wishes to exploit-- Adam does not realize that his purchases include ugliness and sin along with beauty and virtue, and that the applica­ tion of a monetary value to human beings, regardless of benevolent i ntent, Is morally wrong. This moral inconsistency Amerigo has observed in Adam is therefore a result of Adam's innocence, and this kind of innocence appears to the Prince as simplicity. The Prince says Adam "was the man in the world least equipped with different appearances for different hours. He was simple, he was a revelation of simplicity, and that was the end of him so far as he consisted of an appearance at all (p. 220). Being abjectly innocent and having the authority imposed on him by his money, Adam is like a child ruler who unfortunately wields great power over the destinies of men: He was meagre and modest a-nrl n i r if they wandered without fear ^ hiS eyGS' ance; his shoulders were not b^Ia 5ayed wlthout defi- high, his complexion wL ™t fr^h' and^ ™ ^ head was not covered- in < =„••- .e crow of his at the top of h is table P °I 3U °f which he lo°ked> shyly entertaining in virtnp116!' a llttle bo^ he could only be one of the no ^ ;mP°Sed rank' that of a fnrrp-mnh powers, the representative of a dynasty In th'^ lnj~ant kln§ is the representative 1 -y y* hls generalised view of his father-in- law, intensified to-night but always operative Amerieo hac now for some time taken refuge. (p. 220) ' & The Prince feels that Mr. Verver looks at him as if his son-in-law were "the figure of a cheque received in the course of business a nd about to be enclosed to a banker" (p. 221). In spite of his innocence, Adam retains the power to give Amerigo a value; and since the Prince is himself the beneficiary of this attribution, he takes refuge in the enjoyment of the apparently high value that has been placed on him--Amerigo feels himself as a bank draft, subject "to repeated, to infinite endorsement" (p. 221)--and so is reluctant to quibble about the moral consequences of Mr. Verver1 s actions. But the seriousness of the moral defects in Adam's religious fervor and innocence are revealed by his marriage to Charlotte Stant. Regardless of Adam's benevolence and his honorable intentions the marriage becomes a matter of tiatrimonial merchandising, as a passionate, sensitive woman is relegated to being just one more or Adam's important Pieces." The marriage involves a "transaction" that directs Adam's religious fervor toward both sterlUty ^

for Adam buys a wife Just as he wQuld ^^ ^ His commitments in his m are to his daughter and to his mission in American Citv Tt- * Xt 13 the suggestion of Maggie ohat Adam de cides to wed Char! oft-;=> • n cnariotte, he assumes that such an arrangement will relieve Maggie of the responsibility she feels toward him by her having married and deserted him. His taking a wife, he says, is only "decently humane" (p. 148) for Maggie, and he feels a woman like Charlotte will further enhance his collection.

So Adam, "the great American Collector" (p. 151), takes Charlotte to Brighton. In this "bright" setting, in the fresh Brighton air on the sunny Brighton front" (p. 149), Adam is elated with the "merits of his majestic scheme" (p. 149), and he brazenly shows off his wealth to impress Charlotte.

He was acting--it kept coming back to that--not in the dark, but in the high golden morning: not in precipita­ tion, flurry, fever, dangers these of the paths of passion properly so called, but with the deliberation of a plan, a plan that might be a thing of less joy than a passion, but that probably would, in compensation for that loss, be found to have the essential property, to wear even the decent dignity, of reaching further and of providing for more contingencies. (Pp. 149-50) In much the same way that the golden bowl conceals its flaw to the unwary, the golden atmosphere of Brighton conceals the sins that will result rrom Adam s wedding, Adam is blind to the danger of his engendering a passion that will make him a cuckold. Adam's religious fervor and his innocence are now seen as a fatal Ma. 21 and good faith; and after theT ^ SCh°0l"b°y «*"»"<*«>

D -- Brighton, the ensu g 7 ~ ~°~ & xtua1' complete with "the heavy cake and port wine " hoi nS' tak6S on Charlotte "the touch 0l some mystic rite of old Jewry":

^Ikeftogether^Jn^hr"6 fr0m her aS th^ wal1^ away- breezy sefand the bus"lTani2S afte™oon, back to the 7 and the flutter and the n? ' back to the ™™ble the erin of hS m shlnln8 ^ops that sharpened were walking thus ^ as Lhe °f^ '' They he should see his shin^ k ' aa]fer and nearer to where him quite i , P bUm' and it: was meanwhile for red glow would impart at the har- moniou^hour, a lurid grandeur to his good'fJith

The image of burning ships, coming from his linking himself with Cortez, is Adam's romantic idea of his marriage proposal. His plan is envisioned as a great sacrifice for -ia^gie, but the "transaction" that coincides with Adam's proposal is overcast by a subtle mask of temptation and evil. The transaction is followed by an illicit ceremony to sanc­ tion Adam's cold, machine-like approach. The ritual that Charlotte has participated in is a diabolic fusion of a monetary transaction with a wedding rite--a potentially evil blending of suppressed sexual passion and money that compro­ mises a young, beautiful woman and leads to the sterility of its designer. During the ritual, Adam and Charlotte are surrounded by the twelve members of the Guterman-Seuss family, tut, ironically, after Charlotte is "in truth crowned (P. 171) with the Verver jewels, it is brought out that Adam 22 is sterile, and Charlotte win n be overheard complaining that Adam s relationship with Maggie is » ls the greatest affection of which he is canab]p . . m spite of my having done all I could think of to makp v.-;™ hlm caPable of a greater" (p. 181). Charlotte later tells Amerigo that the conception of a child by her and Adam, "poor duck," would make a difference, but this "will never be," and "It's not at any rate," she goes on, my fault (p. 209). The dire consequence of Adam's cold transaction, then, is to "give [Amerigo's] wife a bouncing stepmother" (p. 163), as Charlotte phrases it. Adam is giving Amerigo a mistress for a mother-in-law, and the love between Adam and Maggie, a guiltless, asexual, filial passion, misdirects human sexual passion and precipitates the evil of adultery.

Described as a "small, spare, slightly stale person" (p. 123), Mr. Verver "had lost early in life much of his crisp, closely-curling hair" (p. 123); but ironically, his last name has the connotation of freshness, vigor, and spring­ time. This curious mixture of freshness and staleness is finally the b lending of Adam's religious fervor, his innocence, his idealism, his singlemindedness--it is this mixture that is the source of evil in The Golden Bowl. Adam s idealism is a ruthless religious passion, because the religion he wished to pr opagate" is "the exemplary passion, the passion for perfection at any price" (p. 108); as his religious fervor leads to t reating human beings as objects and to 23 condoning adultery, Adam's apparent virh pparent virtuousness is in actu­ ality a culpable innocence. Sinr.^ Am^ • Amerigo is such an embroiled ageni,, hopelessly enmeshed in the t-^noiori -. tangled situation Adam has pi.ecipitated, he is unable to predicpieaictt thetto consequences ofc Adam's ruthlessness and impotence, and Amerigo postulates that Adam "might be, at the best, the financial 'backer,' watching his interests from the wing, but in rather confessed ignorance of the mysteries of mimicry" (pp. 123-24). The ruthlessness of t his innocent "producer" stems from an ignor­ ance of real human passion while providing the finances for that passion to be acted out.

In his marriage to Charlotte, Adam's innocence (an innocence comparable to that of his namesake in Genesis) provides for the tragic predicament of the two marriages and produces the m oral dilemma in the novel. But, as Amerigo has observed, Adam never directly acts--his form is static-- and the resolution of the dilemma, which will give Amerigo his sought-after understanding of the whiteness, is left to Maggie, a hereditary representative of the asexual elements in her father's ambiguous ethics. Ill


xWior .o ins marriage, Amerigo tells Charlotte that Maggie is unusually happy; but "it's almost terrible, you know, the happiness of young, good, generous creaturls. It rather frightens one. But the Blessed Virgin and all the Saints . . .have her in their keeping" (p. 49). Maggie's innocent, virginal qualities that have frightened Amerigo become apparent when she begins, in Book Second, to approach in her mind an element in the marriage arrangement which was for her previously unapproachable. The situation appears to her as a "tall tower of ivory . . . with silver bells that tinkled, ever so charmingly, when stirred by chance airs" (p. 273); and she fearfully contemplates "one's paying with one's life if found there as an interloper" (p. 274). Maggie's tower has "risen stage by stage" (p. 275) as a result of her deepening perception of her husband's and her stepmother's sexual relationship. Maggie's reaction to her shocking discovery, being "no mere crudity of impati­ ence" (p. 284), is, instead of remaining in Eaton Square with her father, to confront the Prince in Portland Place upon his return from the country estate of Matcham, where his stay with Charlotte has been improperly lengthy. This is the first move in a game that for Margie wil 1 • " 8 U maintain "the equilib- rium . . . the happy balance" (D 009 \ u' zazJ, amounting to her winning back Ame rigo from Charlotte w-H-n <- . tG wlLhout translating "all their delicacies into the gross™*** c o ncss of discussion" (p. 297) or exposing the adultery to her father.

Ironically, m this first confrontation with her husband, Amerigo appears to Maggie exhausted from his stay with her step-mother at Matcham; and Maggie notes that "if he had come back tired, tired from his long day, the exert ion had been, literally, in her service and her father's" (p. 285). But Amerigo's sexual exploits have not only tired him but have created for him a new awareness of his wife. At dinner with Maggie, Amerigo

had possession of her hands and was bending toward her, tVcr so kindly, as if to see, to understand, more or possibly give more--she didn't know which; and that had the effect of simply putting her, as she would have said, in his power. She gave up, let her idea go, let every- thing go; her one consciousness was that he was taking her again into his arms. It was not till afterwards, that she discriminated as to this; felt how the act operated with him instead of the words he hadn't uttered --operated, in his view, as probably better than any words, as always better, in fact, at any time than any­ thing. Her acceptance of it, her response to it, inevitable, foredoomed came back to her, later on, as a virtual assent to the assumption he had thus made that there was really nothing such a demonstration didn t anticipate and didn't dispose of, and that the spring acting within herself moreover might well have been, beyond any other, the impulse legitimately to provoke it. It made, for any issue, the third time since his return that he had drawn her to his breast. ... (P. Z^J 26 Characteristically, Amerigo's im> • i . , initial counter to Maggie s move, as he suspects a nge ln ller attitude, is to appeal to her biological needs p r , , needs. For he instinctively feels that with a woman the only real r niy real communication possible is through a recognition of the inescapable femal Le need to satisfy animal appetites-the biological, for Amerigo is the most profound k ind of experience. But Maggie correctly regards this need as a weakness-it is a weakness that she knows will destroy any scheme of restoration. In order for Maggie to maintain the "equilibrium," she instinctively knows that she must draw Amerigo away from Charlotte; but her initial move, which was to show her husband with an unusual amount of warmth "that she adored and missed and desired him" (p. 2S3), has been met with what she calls his infinite tact" (p. 284); she thus sees that the usual mode of female action, the sexual possession of the male, is not open to her, as this would be playing right into Amerigo's hand. To be victorious, Maggie must assume a prelapsarian attitude--she must refuse to recognize animal passion as an element of ex perience, to reject, in her mind, the fact of her husband's adultery--thereby forgiving him and forcing him to accept her love. So, like an actress on the stage who must neroi^ally improvise" (p. 293), Maggie uses all her virginal will to sublimate sexual passion. Her overwhelming capacity foj. sublimation is shown when she and the Prince leave after i_he 27 Easter dinner at Eaton Square pD -Her nun-like ability instills in her as never before a feeling • g °f lmmense P°w« over Amerigo* Strange enough was this sense for * the sense of p ossessing, by miracu^P altoSether new, tage that, absolutely then and 1- helP. some advan- as they rolled, she might eShefS^ no ""riage, inexpressibly strange--so distinct^ n °r p" .stranSa. did give it up she would somehow - Saw tbat she ever. And what her husLnd'f for very bones registered, was that she should meant; h6r glve lt: U : it was exactly for this tha- hP ~ - P magic. He tahw to reso^ L "2°^^ occasion, as she had lately more rt.n COUd-d be» on munificent a lover- all of whirh learned, so Of the character she ^re^'i* fT

n y ar f h S md beaut ul aaaa °ge niusLforo inncarhLm,m fofor? in' ttercourse. . . .(« p. 308) . his True to his idea of the male sexual role, Amerigo is not aggressive with Maggie; he simply says and does the things t hat will arouse her desire, and, as with Charlotte, he waits for her to act. But Maggie is only briefly tempted L° yield to the a ncient magic of sexual desire, for to give ner selr over to passion would betray her innocent vision of i-he ideal she can attain--winning her husband back without recognizing his adultery as a betrayal. So Maggie resists, and finally rejects, the Prince's sexual overture. She refuses to possess him, keeping her head and intending to keep it; though she was also staring out of the carriage-window with eyes into which tears of suffered pain had risen, indistin-^ guishable, perhaps, happily, in the dusk. She was making an effort that horribly hurt her, and, as ^ she couldn t cry out, her eyes swam in her silence. With them,^ al the same, through the square opening beside her, tbr°ugl the grey panorama of the London night, she ac leve i_ne h feat of not losing sight of what she wanted;; ^nd er ^ lips helped and protected her by being o (P. 309) i • . 28 T.iis victory over her mm has created for her a new kind of pow^Tp^8" diSC°V°rS' . P - , a power that will separate Amerigo fro m his mistress a no , . , ess, a power that strengthens asexual bonds with a machine-like rft,- • . efficiency akin to the power of the reservp reserve and refinement of her father. Maggie becomes, like Charlotte, predatorv « a i>J-eaatory and aggressive, but Maggie's power, unlike Charlotte's is i ) is asexual. Amerigo cannot simply give up Maggie for Charlotte, in spite of Maggie's sexual rejection, because of his innate chivalry, his gentleman's agreement to honor the marriage bond-the same impulse that f orced him into adultery in the first place. Maggie recognizes this, for she can withold sexual affec­ tions from him with a sense that is "absolutely closed to the possibility in him of any thought of wounding her" (p. 414). Amerigo has been totally wrong about Maggie's "native complacency" (p. 397); instead of a lack of intelligence and imagination, Maggie's reaction to the adultery and her subse­ quent scheme of keeping up appearances comes to be a complex strategy that puts both Amerigo and Charlotte on the defen­ sive. And the qua lity in Maggie that brings about this extra­ ordinary reversal is her imagination, for in the slightly cynical words of Mrs. Assingham, "there's no imagination so lively, once it's started, as that of really agitated lambs. Lions are nothing to them, for lions are sophisticated, are dlgjes. are brought up, from the first to prowling and Ruling" (p. 355). In the face of Maggie's power, Amerigo "lth "*«" "•»>- — .ho " " Sh* - -•»'"« "« ».«, .o,. / cause; and the labo ur of thi. i , , . , KlS detachment, with the labour of

keePln§ th£ P Ch f ^ " ° " ^ld them together ln che

steel hoop of an inti^cy compared with which artless passion

would have been but a beating of the air" (p. 364). Maggie.s indignation is further "no challenge of wrath, no heat of the deceived soul" Cd "37^ • r.-, . tp. d/b), and in this chilling context taerigo is rendered powerless. He finds himself, after Maggie discovers the golden bowl and accuses him of adultery with Charlotte, in a "labyrinth" (p. 394), a "proud man reduced to abjection" (p. 420).

Maggie pictures Charlotte as a caged animal, "a prisoner looking through bars . . . bars richly gilt" (p. 421); and in Chapter XXXVI Maggie has a confrontation with this sensual adversary. At Fawns in the smoking room, the erotic view of the a dultery and the possibility of verbaliz­ ing her anguish "assaulted her, within, on her sofa, as a beast might have leaped at her throat" (p. 424). And her vision of "a wild eastern caravan, looming into view with crude colours in the sun, fierce pipes in the air, high sPears against the sky, all a thrill, a natural joy to mingle with, but turning off short before it reached her and plung­ ing into other defiles" (p. 425) illustrates Maggie's ability to withdraw, to withhold sexual release at the crucial Point. Her subsequent confrontation with Charlotte in the ^ night amounts to an initial victory over her sexual rival. Charlotte, the huntress, "the snle-ndiH v. • • splendid shmmg supple crea­ ture" (p. 427), makes a symbolic bid f n c y one bxd freedom by leaving the card-room and joining Maggie outside at the window. Maggie's plan to save the marriages is that she will now not reveal her knowledge of the adultery to Charlotte, as she did to Amerigo. Consequently, Maggie feels, this maneuver will bring herself and the Prince "together ... he and she, close together" (p. 434).

Maggie s innocent diplomacy becomes what James calls "something like a new system" (p. 428). Operating in the midsL of old world corruption, represented by the betrayal of Amerigo and Charlotte, this "system" becomes a kind of moral blackmail whereby Amerigo has incredibly been forgiven and Charlotte is held, tormented, as Maggie says, "by her ignorance" (p. 490). Utilizing her innocence as a kind of shield (metaphorically, her "improvised hood" [p. 432]), Maggie is now capable "of braving, of fairly defying, of directly exploiting, of possibly quite enjoying under cover of an evil duplicity, the felt element of curiosity with which Charlotte regarded her" (p. 304). Maggie tells Charlotte dramatically, "'I accuse you—I accuse you of nothing (p. 434), but Charlotte, aware of the Prince's new attitude, cannot b e certain. So "not, by a hair's breadth," does Maggie deflect "into the truth" (p. 434), relegating Charlotte to "some da rkness of space that- i ^ pace that would steep her in solitude and harass her with care" (D aqan VP. 434)— m this way- Maggie transfers her own nrevinn^ xi previous ignorance and uncertainty to Charlotte.

Maggie tells Mrs. Assingham her "system" requires "the golden bowl-as it was to have been ... the bowl with all the happiness in it . . . the bowl without the crack" (p. 412). Like Adam's vision, her plan demands perfection. And it has been the example of her father that has sustained her; it has been "the so possible identity of her father's motive and principle with her own" (p. 404); it has been Adam's machine-like efficiency and reserve that Maggie imi­ tates to successfully win back her husband. In Chapter XXXVII Adam and Maggie meet again in their garden and pledge "their mutual vigilance" (p. 445); this mutual, unnatural love has been the reason for Maggie's consistency. Adam's moral placidity as he appears to Maggie "with the unfathomable heart folded in the constant flawless freshness of the white waistcoat" (p. 470), is the image that now sustains her amid the devastation she causes: "she might have been for the time, in all her conscious person, the very form of the equilibrium they were, in their different ways, equally trying to save" (p. 446). And Adam's willingness to take Charlotte to America had the effect, for her of a reminder-a reminder °f a*1 he was, of all he had done, of all .aboY* ^ £?m !js being her perfect little father, she mig . pn representing, take him as having, qui e 32 the eyes of two hemispheres, been canati r , therefore wishing, not--was it?--in J" ' as her attention to. The 'successful • b~ 1f":ely' to caI1 the beautiful, bou ntiful, original' dff person' "reat citizen the rgmal, dauntlessly wilful great citizen, the consummate collector and infallible high authority he had been and still was His very quietness was part of it now, as always'plrt of everything, of his success, his originality, his modesty his exquisite public perversity, his inscrutable, incal- culable energy. ... (p. 449)

As the "child of his blood" (p. 450), Maggie sees herself, as conforming to Adam's religious ferver for perfec­ tion. For the Ververs, life must be purged of all traces of human corruption; their mission is to achieve the ideal and repudiate the image of flawed humanity suggested by the cracked golden bowl. This religious quest, beautifully exe­ cuted, as Amerigo might be thinking in his brooding state at Fawns, forces perfection onto a corrupt and imperfect world. Maggie's scheme effectively alienates Amerigo from Charlotte; he is drawn back to Maggie and finds he must some­ how accept her love. But Amerigo must pay the ultimate stakes in this marriage for his acceptance. In Maggie's world of ideal love Amerigo is reduced to something less than a passive agent, for without the advantage of being able to anticipate and satisfy Maggie's sexual appetites their relationship will be a sterile Platonic love. With Maggie, Amerigo waits, but the old certainty, "the predestined Phenomena," which was his source of strengtn with European women, never materializes in his American wife. Amerigo u grasped" (p. 475). Amerigo's former mistress is doomed to a sterile life of subjugation, for the cage that Maggie has fashioned has made Charlotte a slave to Adam Verver and his mission. As Adam and Charlotte make their "daily round" of artistic inspection at Fawns, Maggie imagines that "their connection would not have been wrongly figured if he had been thought 01. as holding in one of his pocketed hands the end of a long silken halter looped round her beautiful neck" (p. 458).

A kind of peace, an equilibrium, has been established at Fawns, but it is a fearful stalemate rather than a com­ promise, for Maggie "knew accordingly nothing but harmony and diffused, restlessly, nothing but peace—an extravagant, expressive, aggressive peace, not incongruous, after all, with the solid calm of the place; a kind of helmeted, trident shaking pax Britannica" (p. 407). The images that reflect this peace are of terror and imprisonment. The sposi at Fawns are "like a party of panting gold-fish . .. they learned to live in the perfunctory; they remained in it as many hours of the d ay as might be; it took on finally one likeness of some spacious central chamber in a haunted house, a great overarched a nd overglazed rotunda, where gaiety might reign, but the doors of which opened into sinister circular passages" (p. 459). Prince Amerigo now plays the Part of Maggie's eunuch, sentenced to the boredom Of pacing about his room and completely under the sway o gg* 3 r will. When Maggie brings a telegram from Adam and Charlotte announcing their dep arture to America, it is "as if she had come to him m his more than monastic cell to offer him light or toot" (p. 491). The significance of this telegram, which signals Charlotte s final meeting with Amerigo, is that his condition is only a prelude to a final execution, as "it was every moment more and more for [Maggie] as if she were wait- ing with som<_ glea m Oj_ reme morance of how noble captives in the French Revolution, the darkness of the Terror used to make a feast, or a high discourse of their last poor resources" (p. 493).

Imagining that Amerigo, from behind his prison bars in Portland Place, is awaiting his own execution, it is under­ standable that he m akes a final pathetic bid for his freedom. At the end of Chapt er XLI, alone with the Prince before her father's final visit, Maggie feels "the thick breath of the definite--which was the intimate, the immediate, the familiar, as she hadn't had them for so long" (p. 499). Amerigo was so near now that she could touch him, taste him, smell him, kiss him, hold him" (p. 500); but Maggie, with her "endless power of surrender" (p. 500), of withdrawal, can postpone again any sexual advances by her husband. Amerigo can only comply with her desires, as she "saved herself and she go off" (p. 501), by admonishing him to wait. So Amerigo is shown the price he must pay as Maggie's husband; he sees that her power to resist his sexual advances is limitless, 36 and her love is "abysmal and unutterable" (p. 442)

Knowledge ot this love is responsible for the terror reflected in Amerigo s eyes when he embraces Maggie in the final paragraph of the novel. In the last chapter, prior to Amerigo's acceptance of Maggie, the images are of dying and decay. The time was stale, it was to be admitted, for incidents of magn itude; the September hush was in full pos­ session ac the end or the dull day, and a couple of the long windows stood open to the balcony that overhung the desola­ tion (p. 501). In the final scene, a farewell banquet for Adam and Charlotte, Adam's and Maggie's vision of perfection has prevailed; Charlotte and Amerigo sit "as a pair of effigies of t he contemporary great on one of the platforms of Madame Tussaud" (p. 505). Deprived of their bodies, their sexual powers are totally diminished; they are reduced to ancient artifacts in the Verver museum: Mrs. Verver and the Prince fairly placed themselves, however unwittingly, as high expressions or the kind of human furniture required, aesthetically, by such a scene. The fusion of their presence with the decorative elements, their contribution to the triumph Oi. selec tion, was complete and admirable; though, to a lingering view, a view more penetrating than the occasion really demanded, they also might have rigured as concrete auu tations of a rare power of purchase. (j-• - >05) This surrender to Maggie's power is the final quence of Amerigo's journey into whiteness. The whi ultimately produces a terrifying stillness which "might have been said to be not so much restored as created, whatever next took place was foredoomed to remarkabl 37 salience" (p. 509). Finally, Amerigo tells Maggie: "I see nothing but you" (p. 511), and this vision is the real­ ization that Maggie's innocence has its own subtle associa­ tion with human guilt and evil. At the end of the novel

Amerigo has acquired the moral sense that was lacking when he began his journey. He has found that innocence is not immune to guile; Maggie and Adam have not committed an overt wrong, yet their manipulating of human destinies has lead to suffering, and they are just as guilty of wrongdoing as he and Charlotte.

Amerigo is a modern hero lost between two worlds-- his old world of tradition and superstition and certainty, and Maggie's world of innocence and uncertainty and a machine-like power that establishes an unnatural, inhuman order. For Amerigo, Maggie's world is a purgatory where dullness, staleness, and sterility are dominant; her system has sought perfection for imperfect humanity and tnis has destroyed the former imperfect love of the sposi, aborting his plans for a beneficent new world. ihe more mature

Prince can only admit that "everything's terrible . . .m the heart of man" (p. 498). To love this white maiden or

Portland Place, Amerigo must "meet her in her own way" (p.

5U), and this has required a bloodless but appalling loss is °f his sexuality. At the end of his journey, Ame-i0 "shivering and half shipwrecked," for i r > •LOr instead of rainbows speaking hope and solace to his misery, he views what seems a boundless church-yard grinning upon him with its lean ice monuments and splintered crosses.

^Mo by -Dick, p. 262. WORKS CITED

James, Henry. The Art of the Novel, Critical P-r^ Edited by R . P. Blackmur. New York: Charles Scrib- ner's Sons, 1962.

The Golden Bowl. Laurel Series. New York: Dell Publishing Co. Inc., 1963.

Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick or the Whale. New York: Bobbs' Merrill Co. , Inc., 1964.