Seminar paper from the year 2004 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: 1,7, University of Freiburg (Englisches Seminar), course: Seminar 19th Century American Short Story, 2 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: In the short story The Real Thing, written in 1884 by Henry James, the ...
Seminar paper from the year 2004 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: 1,7, University of Freiburg (Englisches Seminar), course: Seminar 19th Century American Short Story, 2 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: In the short story "The Real Thing", written in 1884 by Henry James, the author tells the story about an aristocratic couple coming to an artist's studio in search for employment as models. Even though the artist, who is the narrating protagonist and remains unnamed, has no particular need for them as models, he decides to give them a try and draws them for an important project he is working on, a project which might be his chance to achieve great fame and fortune. During the following drawing sessions, it slowly becomes apparent that both the narrator a nd the Monarchs, his impoverished but still upper-class models, fail at their tasks: The artist seems to be unable to paint them as successfully as he normally draws his regular models, and they appear to be rather inflexible in terms of changing into the roles they are supposed to represent. However, both parties undergo a process of change during the course of the story, which takes them from being prototypes, a typical painter and a typical aristocratic couple, to being characters. In this research paper, I will show the changes each of them undergoes, and the way they both fail at their tasks.
Before the narrator starts a professional and later a more personal relationship with the Monarchs, he characterizes himself as a typical painter of portraits with daily struggles and ambitions for the future.
Early in the first part, he summarizes his work as follows: "[...] I worked in black-and-white, for magazines, for storybooks, [...] and consequently had copious employment for models", which is also the reason why his friend Rivet, critic and painter of landscape, had referred the impoverished aristocratic couple to him. The narrator's plans for the future, however, are higher than that: "[...] I couldn't get the honours [...] of a great painter of portraits out of my head. My 'illustrations' were my pot-boilers; I looked to a different branch of art [...] to perpetuate my fame." In the beginning of the second part, we learn of one of the narrator's stepping-stones towards his envisioned career: He tells the reader about his current project of illustrating a deluxe edition of the much-acclaimed book "Rutland Ramsay", "but [...] my participation in the rest of the affair - this first book was to be a test - must depend on the satisfaction I should give. [...] It was therefore a crisis for me".