Washington Square

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A novel by H. James, published 1881.

Catherine Sloper lives in Washington Square with her widowed father, a rich physician. She is plain, without social graces or conversation. Dr Sloper is disappointed that she has nothing of her dead mother's beauty and wit. When the handsome, but penniless and indolent, Morris Townsend begins to court her, he casts him as a fortune‐hunter. Both Catherine's romantic hopes and Morris's pecuniary ones are encouraged by the girl's silly aunt, Lavinia Penniman. Dr Sloper will disinherit Catherine if she marries Morris, and he jilts her. Catherine, despised by her father, pitied by her aunt, refuses later chances of a suitable match and withdraws into a lonely humdrum life. After her father's death (cautiously, he has largely disinherited her in any case) Morris reappears to try his luck again. His continued lack of success has made him less ambitious. But Catherine finds no charm in this balding middle‐aged stranger. With some bitter reminders of his past cruelty, she turns him away.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Henry James (1843—1916) writer