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Psychological Realism in “The Pupil” by

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1 Psychological Realism in “The Pupil” by
Henry James

2 What is “real” about “The Pupil”?
No omniscient narrator No virtuous “hero” No outstanding external event No closure

3 No omniscient narrator
An omniscient narrator tells the story, knowing and explaining the interior motives of each character. This sort of narrator can “read the characters' minds” and explain their actions. In real life there is no one there to read the minds of the people we meet. We just wonder what they are thinking.

4 No Omniscient Narrator
In “The Pupil” we know much of what goes on in Pemberton's mind, but not even all of that. Even he does not understand his own motives (like how attached he is to Morgan and the Moreens). Further, neither Pemberton, nor Morgan, nor the reader completely knows what the Moreens are up to. What do they live on, for example?

5 No Virtuous “Hero” The Parents are irresponsible and false;
abandon their children; may be the cause of Morgan's death Pemberton weakly gets too attached to Morgan; inspires false hope of “running off” with Morgan; may be the cause of Morgan's death.

6 Although it is tempting to blame just the parents for Morgan's death, perhaps Pemberton contributed to it. Do you think so? Did he build false hopes in Morgan? Could the story have gone any other way, any other “healthier” way?

7 No Outstanding External Event
The “event” that occurs is the bankruptcy of the Moreen family and their request that Pemberton take Morgan away with him. It is catastrophic for Morgan, but it is not exceptional because their failure is expected. Further, it is not “outstanding” as a war or natural disaster would be, but is on a personal, human scale.

8 No Closure It is not entirely clear what causes Morgan's heart to fail
Was it (unlikely) the hurried walk home? Was it happy excitement at his dream of fleeing with Pemberton coming true? Was it fear that his dream would come true (and fear of permanent attachment; see intro to story)? Was it heartbreak that his parents would give him up?

9 No Closure It is not entirely clear how we should read the characters
Did Mrs. Moreen ultimately love her son? (She does finally embrace him.) Did Pemberton lead Morgan to believe he was more devoted than he was? (Was he really happy to take Morgan away?) Was Mr. Moreen evil? (He says Morgan would not want to go. We also don't know what he was really doing through the story.)

10 Psychological Realism
More than action, James focuses on the interior world of the characters. Much of the “action” of “The Pupil” is found in The discussions between Morgan and Pemberton The discussions between Mrs. Moreen and Pemberton The discussion OF what Pemberton thinks about those discussions

11 Assignment for James For your Post on “The Pupil” reflect briefly on how the story is an example of psychological realism. Be sure to give examples from the story of how James pushes us to enter into the minds of the characters, rather than get carried away by spectacular events. Also, PART 2, please post one response to a classmate's post on James. DUE: Sunday, June 13 at midnight


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