Henry James uses different narrative techniques to emphasise the inappropriateness of Morris Townsend as suitor to Catherine Sloper. James especially uses narrative irony to present the reader with a clear picture of the type of relationship shared by Catherine and Morris. This helps to shape the reader’s judgement and responses to their relationship. The structure of the extract is the first thing that catches the reader’s attention. The numerous “silences” illustrates the lack of communication between the couple. When conversation is made, it appears to be very predictable, moving from marriage to promises of love.
Morris seems to enjoy “indulging” in “demonstrations of affection”. The use of the word “demonstration” makes the reader question the love that Morris seems to show for Catherine, and makes the reader aware that this love could be superficial. This is emphasised by Morris’ holding of Catherine’s hand for “awhile” again making the reader question his love. That emphasises the lack of real communication and demonstrates the lack of emotion and passion. The predictability is, however, broken by Catherine when she “abruptly” questions Morris’ love for her.Order now
This abruptness demonstrates the underlying instability and doubt beneath the seeming smoothness of the relationship. The instability is accentuated through the information that they have only started their relationship “five days” ago. This hastiness to get married makes the reader question Morris’ motifs and the sincerity of his feelings. James only gives out that information close to the end of the passage, increasing the irony presented. The dialogue that takes place between Catherine and Morris further increases this irony. Morris uses clichÃ©d vocabulary such as “my own dearest”, thus emphasising his lack of real love for Catherine.
Having said that, Morris seems to be against clichÃ©s, telling Catherine that she should be the first to speak to her father rather than him, “the happy lover. ” The usage of that phrase puts an emphasis on his lack of emotion, as he talks in general terms rather than using the word “I”. His lack of optimism, “it won’t be much use”, in persuading Catherine’s father to allow him to marry her highlights his own doubts in his appropriateness as Catherine’s husband. Perhaps it could also highlight his lack of desire to fight for Catherine.
This point is accentuated by him saying that he would “rather have easily than have to fight for ”. Morris uses a play on words to avoid answering Catherine’s question about his love for her. He turns this question into another question, “Can you doubt it? ” to escape the need to answer. His complicated use of vocabulary to explain a “low thing” such as “mercenary” demonstrates his desire to disillusion Catherine into unquestioningly believing him. He talks a lot about not “being a mercenary” and adds that her father will “be sure to mention it”, forcing the reader to doubt whether he is marrying for love.
His immediate rejection of Catherine’s offers of being rich emphasises this point, as it is unrealistic to be so against money. Catherine’s naivety is illustrated as she rejects the idea of him being a mercenary immediately, concluding that “ is not” a mercenary. Catherine’s naivety is accentuated by her inability to realise the true nature of her lover. Her innocence makes her a character of “simple moral goodness” and is used by James to show the contrast of this simple moral goodness to the cunning Morris.