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'Mrs Penniman's character is to some extent a mere caricature' in Henry James' 'Washington Square'.

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'Mrs Penniman's character is to some extent a mere caricature' Henry James uses, Lavinia Penniman predominantly for the comic relief derived from her unrealistic romantic scheme, her extensive hyperbole, and deceitfulness. Mrs Penniman is seen as a caricature, a caricature is a humorous illustration that exaggerates or distorts the features of a person to form a visual likeness. Mrs Penniman can be seen as a caricature through her clothing, gestures, language and her manipulation as seen in many chapters throughout the novel. Lavinia Penniman is a sad figure, she is widowed and "left without children, without fortune" and lives in Dr Sloper's household and is in control of Dr Sloper's daughter, Catherine's education. Many women in the 19th century who like Mrs Penniman weren't married, tended to struggle with life; they struggled to get an income so remained poor and weak and really tended not to have a life. ...read more.


At this secret meeting, Mrs Penniman goes against her brother's wishes and attempts to encourage a secret wedding between Catherine and Morris, Morris realises the difficulty of this but Mrs Penniman thinking she is in one of her "romantic" novels, comes up with ridiculous solutions that would just add to the drama, such as using the "cemetery" as a location for the wedding. She also makes sure that she is a key figure in it all, as she possibly wants to be the heroine, she does this by inventing roles for herself, and this is done in other occasions as well. Mrs Penniman's character does have comic factors that are crucial for her to be a caricature. This can be seen through her costumes, gestures and through the author's ironic metaphors. Her costumes are flamboyant and in chapter IV she is described as wearing "more buckles and bangles than ever" showing that she often wears outrages outfits. ...read more.


All these seem to be similar to some of Shakespeare's romantic relationships, such as Romeo and Juliet, where Romeo one of the lovers is "banished", the couple is guilty, as they are sworn enemies and they often met on neutral ground, this is an exciting play, due to this which is effectively what Mrs Penniman is attempting to do. To conclude, Mrs Penniman's character is a caricature, her clothes, language and gestures are all hyperbolic and she always attempts to be at the centre of all occasions. She is a sad figure who attempts to manipulate the authors plot to make it more dramatic and like her light literature, her ideas are full of irony and her character in general does seem to posses some humour that would make her a caricature. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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