The great empty cup of attention: the doctor and the illness in the Wings of the Dove.

Abstract

James confers on his characters his deepest fears and truths. He incorporates within his writing both his stunning and at times crippling intellectual powers and his dark inchoate mournful passion and remorse. The very events that made him a casualty are the experiences he grants to his characters to endure, to grapple with, and to master. In Wings James settles with his characters and with his readers the effects of these two deaths in his life. He was flattened by Minny's and Fenimore's deaths. He, like Marcher, cannot grasp the extent of his paralysis. It dawns on him like the sadness of a winter dawn but also like the explosive epiphany of Marcher at the grave that he has not lived. The words of Howell quoted by Sturges, the events of Wings, The Ambassadors, "The Beast in the Jungle" all reinforce what he knows to be true. He has not lived, he has not had what that man had to make him, by the loss of it, so bleed and yet live. What, after all, is more important in any life than the ability to love and the capacity to face death? This is the heart of the matter that James takes on in Wings. In the structure of the novel, to become conscious is to be in danger. Milly, the patient, achieves what eludes the other characters. Kate, Maud, Densher, Susan all are unable to raise their heads above their own lives. Only Milly is aware of herself within and beyond the book. Perhaps Densher begins in the very end to raise his head similarly, and in the sequel of "Beast," he achieves it.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Cite this paper

@article{Charon1990TheGE, title={The great empty cup of attention: the doctor and the illness in the Wings of the Dove.}, author={Rita Charon}, journal={Literature and medicine}, year={1990}, volume={9}, pages={105-24} }