Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Rodney, Robert M.||Herbert, Edward T.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of English


James; Henry; 1843-1916


Throughout Henry James's fiction renunciation, the act of personal sacrifice of one's goal at a time when it is most apt to be realized, prevails as a common dramatic irony. The scope of this paper is to analyze the final scenes of renunciation in The American and in The Ambassadors with the purpose of illustrating that in each case renunci­ation appears to be more an artful contrivance than a realistic and legitimate part of the story. The method of inquiry is that of examining the internal evidence in each story as it relates to theme, character and the final act of renunciation. The criteria upon which this analysis is based are the principles of James's own art of fiction; namely, the principles of organic wholeness, verisimilitude, consistency of character and psych­ological insight. The conclusion of this study is that renunciation as a dramatic irony in the denouement is destructive to the integrity of the story as a whole, and rather than settle the conflicts as a denouement should, renunciation initiates new questions and conflicts about the story. Also, it is suggested that James's unwritten "conscious moral purpose" may be a reason for renunciation as a dramatic irony in his fiction.


Includes bibliographical references.


iv, 48 pages




Northern Illinois University

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