Henry James; The American; The Golden Bowl; imperialism; international theme; transcontinental story
새한영어영문학, v.53, no.2, pp.117 - 134
Imperialism has a special meaning in the novelistic world of Henry James. As a cosmopolitan writer who was born and raised in the United States and spent most of his artistic career in Europe, writing primarily about the international theme as the basic characteristic of his works, James was influenced by the emergence of modern imperial power both in Europe and America. Among many of James’s works, The Golden Bowl becomes the novel where the idea of imperialism is most visibly detectable. The novel dramatizes how the imperialistic power could play in the intricate web of relationships between America and Europe. While presenting America as a powerful symbol of modern, industrial force, James works out the full implication of the imperialistic force through the act of two Americans.
The imperialistic motif is emphasized with the position of Prince Amerigo, an Italian nobility, being completely peripheral to the life of Adam and Maggie Verver. Indifferent to the demand of others, Maggie and Adam persist in their way of life until the status quo they try to preserve is broken within the inner circle. Politically considered, the Ververs are blind to the demand of Europe as long as they are indulged in their own isolated world as if other world does not exist. What Europe wants is symbolized through the act of the two humans who asked Americans to find a real and genuine value of Europe; unless this reciprocity is not fulfilled they can act in their own way. Thus James implies that just as human life is dependent on the exchange of value on the basis of reciprocity, the interaction between America and Europe must follow the pragmatic reality.