Washington Square

by Henry James

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What is the theme of betrayal in "Washington Square"?

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The idea of betrayal figures prominently in this Henry James novel. Catherine Sloper is a plain girl but comes from a rich family. Ironically, the wealth came from Catherine's mother and when she died, her father inherited all her money. When Catherine falls in love with a poor man named Morris Townsend, her father is convinced all Morris really wants is Catherine's fortune. Unfortunately, he is correct, but his mean, sarcastic treatment of Catherine only makes her love Morris more. Eventually, Morris does betray Catherine after her father disinherits her. However, Catherine manages to get the last laugh when Morris returns years later. Catherine pretends to be interested in him, but in the end, she betrays him and rejects his love.

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