The Satirical Tone and Irony in Henry James' "The Pupil"

The Satirical Tone and Irony in Henry James'

In this analysis, we explore Henry James' use of a satirical tone and irony in his excerpt from "The Pupil." Through his characters'

About The Satirical Tone and Irony in Henry James' "The Pupil"

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Slide1An Analysis of Henry James’Excerpt from  The Pupil “It is a great misfortune neither to have enough wit to talk well, nor enough judgment to be silent.”  –Jean de la Bruyere

Slide2The satirical tone of the piece highlights the self-absorption of the characters and shows the author’s view that judgment equalizes people of all classes, which inhibits conversation and positive interaction.

Slide3Irony  Lack of dialogue  Sarcasm  Characterization (i.e. self-absorption, hyperbole, extravagance)

Slide4Line 33-35: ‘And all over-clouded by this, youknow-all at the mercy of weakness!’ Line 61-64: “At any rate, when Mrs. Moreen got up as if to intimate that, since it was understood he would enter upon his duties within the week she would let him off now…”

Slide5Mrs. Moreen talking to Pemberton  The disrespect Morgan has for his mother, despite them being upper-class.

Slide6Through not speaking to anybody the Morgan’s judgment is visible; the only time he speaks is to make a mocking comment: ‘Oh, la-la!” (Line 79)  The lack of dialogue portrays a satirical tone resulting from the inability to create conversation and positive interactions.

Slide7James uses sarcasm to show how three people of different classes can communicate in a way that brings them to the same level, but they’re still not on the same page.

Slide8Morgan (the pupil) shows his self-absorption through lack of respect for his mother and for Pemberton  “…the first thing he should have to teach his little charge would be to appear to address himself to his mother when he spoke to her.” (Line 21-23)  James uses a paradox when he brings the characters together through their inability to be together

Slide9Pemberton displays self-absorption through a lack of attention paid to the conversation  Focus is on money rather than Mrs. Moreen  Mrs. Moreen refers to Morgan having a “weakness of the heart” and Pemberton interprets this literally as a heart condition and not as a lack of passion.

Slide10Mrs. Moreen keeps talking continually throughout the passage  As previously stated, she doesn’t truly understand her son  She is clueless because she can’t interpret social cues  “the large, affable lady…repeated over and over everything but the thing he wanted to hear.” (Line 11-12)

Slide11Pemberton’s literal interpretation of everything that’s happening exaggerates his obliviousness  When Mrs. Moreen assures Pemberton that the pay will all be “quite regular,” he doesn’t understand what she is insinuating when she says this

Slide12Mrs. Moreen is portrayed as very extravagant  Described as “…a large, affable lady who sat there drawing a pair of soiled gants de Suede through a fat, jewelled hand…” (Line 8-10)

Slide13Social prejudices-every social class sees other classes in a prejudicial way and they don’t really interact  Racism modern vs. historic


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