“The Beast in the Jungle”

“What it presently came to in truth was that poor Marcher waded through his beaten grass, where no life stirred, where no breath sounded, where no evil eye seemed to gleam from a possible lair, very much as if vaguely looking for the Beast, and still more as if missing it.”

Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” in The Better Sort. (New York: Scribner, 1903. Internet Archive. https://archive.org/details/bettersort00jamegoog), 235.

James presents the “ordinary” as more “extraordinary” by framing Marcher’s search for meaning or purpose as an unsuccessful “hunt” in a seemingly empty jungle.  The “Beast”‘s absence, rather than its presence, becomes the problem here–which is a bit misleading/interesting considering all the attention James gave to the mystery of what Marcher’s “Beast” would be.