Dramatica Theory and James' Washington Square

Dramatica Theory and James' Washington Square

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Dramatica Theory and James' Washington Square


In this essay I will review a critique of James' Washington Square. I found the critique to be dry and rather clinical in its approach to this fine work by Henry James.

From the beginning the article presents a cold psychological approach to the characters that James' has made live for me in the short novel. The article covers the character's name, gender, a short description of him or her, the role that character plays in the piece and then goes on to list the basic characteristics of him or her. Motivation, methodology, evaluation and purpose are the four characteristics that are used to describe a character.

The analysis does refer to the original work in many places. I found this to be helpful. For example when it describes Catherine Sloper it takes a quote from the novel to list her as, "a dull, plain girl she was called by rigorous critics" (James 11). This did help redeem the article somewhat. But the basic problem I found with the analysis kept leaping up. It's too scientific an approach for any literary work.

The main problem with "Dramatica," for me, seems to be in that the theory looks at a story in relation to, "the mind's problem solving process" ("What is Dramatica?"). This area of the website goes on to explain that an author must examine all possible solutions to an issue in the story. In an effort to prove that the author's solutions are the best. The Dramatica theory of critique states that if, "you have covered every angle in your argument, you've mapped all the ways an audience might look at the problem and, therefore, all the ways anyone might look at that problem" ("What is Dramatica?"). This mapping turns any piece into a psychological pseudo study and relieves it of any beauty that it may contain.

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I would say that the appreciation of art is down by a person's heart not his or her mind. Therefore the Dramatica Theory of the story is flawed from its beginnings. The treatment of Washington Square is just an example of science trying to capture art and study it in a laboratory. Literature lives in one's heart and not in the lab.

Source Cited

www.dramatica.com/dcritques_folder/dAnalyses.../h_james_washington_square.htm
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