Commonplace The Beast in the Jungle

“May Bertram, whose face, a reminder, yet not quite a remembrance,”

I like this passage because it describes the woman, May Bertram, as average but it does it so uniquely. Although her face might not memorable the way it is described is.

Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” in Major Stories & Essays (New York : Library of America, 1999), 446.

 

“It’s dreadful to bring a person back, at any time, to what he was ten years before.”

This passage stuck out to me because it is such a simple statement made by the woman but is still a vivid look into how Henry James probably viewed the past.

Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” in Major Stories & Essays (New York : Library of America, 1999), 450.

 

“At this, for a minute, their lightness gave way to their gravity; it was as if the long look they exchanged held them together.”

Their lightness giving way to their gravity sort of seems to contradict itself since gravity is usually held by things with extremely large masses and not by any means considered light. This leads you to the conclusion the gravity is being used in the context of “the gravity of the situation” which is appropriate because John Marcher seems to be talking about watching some coming apocalypse.

Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” in Major Stories & Essays (New York : Library of America, 1999), 454.

 

“The real form it should have taken on the basis that stood out large was the form of their marrying. But the devil in this was that the very basis itself put marrying out of the question. His condition he could invite a woman to share; and that consequence of it was precisely what was the matter with him.”

James is being so elusive with what the condition is. He keeps eluding and giving isolated hints while remaining vague.

Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” in Major Stories & Essays (New York : Library of America, 1999), 457.

 

“a man of feeling didn’t cause himself to be accompanied by a lady on a tiger-hunt.”

This passage is talking about the metaphor made a sentence or two prior about the beast in the jungle waiting to slay or be slain. It caught my attention because while the beast’s actions are not definite yet, the lady is on a tiger-hunt. She is out to slay.

Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” in Major Stories & Essays (New York : Library of America, 1999), 458.

 

“What’s the most inveterate mark of men in general? Why, the capacity to spend endless time with dull women”

Sounds like a very classical thing to say. I mean classical in the Jane Austen era sense.

Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” in Major Stories & Essays (New York : Library of America, 1999), 461.

 

“He still, however wondered. ‘But doesn’t the man of courage know what he’s afraid of—or not afraid of? I don’t know that, you see. I don’t focus it. I can’t name it. I only know I’m exposed.’”

So he’s afraid but of something but he doesn’t know what yet he knows what’s going to happen. He also refuses to tell her what it is because according to her he’s afraid she’ll find out what’s going to happen. So he’s not afraid of what’s coming but is afraid that she’ll find out how it ends?

Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” in Major Stories & Essays (New York : Library of America, 1999), 464.

Leave a Reply