Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
*Boston. Massachusetts’s capital and leading city, known in this novel mainly as the city of reform and feminist views, which one character refers to as “Boston ideas.”
*Charles Street. Fashionable Boston street on which Olive Chancellor, the novel’s central feminist figure, lives. Near the even more fashionable Beacon Street. Because of where she lives, the wealthy Olive is expected to move in fashionable circles, but she has cut herself off from that milieu in order to be a reformer.
Olive’s house. Boston residence of Olive Chancellor; a place of strange, narrow rooms, perhaps suggesting something strange and narrow about Olive’s life and ideas. The house is full of books and fashionable objects, and yet seems not entirely comfortable, as if embodying a conflict in Olive between expensive tastes and a self-denying dedication to a cause. Olive’s windows provide a view of distant, ugly, impoverished parts of Boston, perhaps to show, by contrast, how comfortable Olive is materially. Somewhat oddly, Olive’s companion, Verena, finds the view lovely, perhaps suggesting that however impoverished those parts of Boston may be, they are richer metaphorically than Olive’s house of narrow rooms.
Miss Birdseye’s rooms
Miss Birdseye’s rooms. Site of a feminist meeting in Boston to which Olive takes her...
(The entire section is 797 words.)
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Bibliography (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Anderson, Charles R. “James’s Portrait of the Southerner.” In On Henry James: The Best from American Literature, edited by Louis J. Budd and Edwin H. Cady. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1990.
Bell, Millicent. “The Determinate Plot: The Bostonians.” In Meaning in Henry James. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991. Bell compares The Bostonians with other James novels and argues that it serves as an ironic rejection of naturalism.
Bowen, Janet Wolf. “Architectural Envy: A Figure Is Nothing Without a Setting in Henry James’s The Bostonians.” New England Quarterly 65, no. 1 (March, 1992): 3-23. By focusing on the architectural imagery of the novel, Bowen points out that the novel depicts conflicts between inner life and public persona.
Davis, Sara de Saussure. “Feminist Sources in The Bostonians.” In On Henry James: The Best from American Literature, edited by Louis J. Budd and Edwin H. Cady. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1990.
Faderman, Lillian. “Female Same-Sex Relationships in Novels by Longfellow, Holmes, and James.” New England Quarterly 51, no. 3 (September, 1978): 309-332. A feminist perspective on the novel that focuses on the contrasting...
(The entire section is 307 words.)