William Faulkner And Henry James

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“Much of American Literature is a consideration of our ability to head to the frontier, reinvent ourselves, make a shining city on a hill, be the last best hope for mankind, free ourselves of the shackles of the past, the tragic fate of birth in a particular place ... you get the picture. It is shot through our attitudes to class, politics, the immigrant experience, and much else” (Hardy). Society has always impacted American literature and the way in which a story is accepted and admired or rejected and despised. American authors faced scrutiny prior to the United States becoming an independent nation and it continues today. The cultural and societal rules and values determine the popularity of a work as much today as they did when William Faulkner and Henry James works were published. The rigid beliefs of Europeans in 1878 caused readers of Henry James’s Daisy Miller: A Study to consider “the tension between individual self-realization and social restriction” (Barnett 1) and how it “focuses upon the way in which society particularly shapes the behavior of women” (Barnett 1). The seeming lack of Southern principles made the readers of William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily question the actions of his title character. Whatever the period of time when a story was written or the plot and theme of the story, readers will be able to ascertain society’s rules and values by assessing the actions of the main characters and the treatment they receive from the other characters found in the story. The title characters in both Henry James’s Daisy Miller: A Study and William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily were young ladies that were scrutinized by society because of their lack of comprehension and experience. Emily Grierson was raised by her fat... ... middle of paper ... ...ot as worthy or trustworthy as others they could have spent time with. Society’s rules and cultures regulations have a major impact on the way in which American authors have portrayed characters, developed themes, and devised the story’s plot. William Faulkner and Henry James both found ways of using these literary devices to impact the social classes and structure of society. The use of Emily’s inability to deal with the death of her father and the townspeople unwillingness to interact with her leads readers to question their acceptance of people who have mental issues. Daisy Miller’s unwillingness to bend under society’s rules and restrictions require the readers to consider the fairness of those social restraints. Whether readers make a conscious realization or not society has always had an impact on literature and literature has equally impacted societal issues.

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