Washington Square Questions and Answers
by Henry James

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Besides needing permission to marry, how are women oppressed in Washington Square by Henry James? For example, Catherine, a woman, has to get her father's approval to marry someone, ie. Morris Townsend, which he refuses to give.  What are other examples of oppression?

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William Delaney eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I do not believe that women needed permission to marry if they were of age. In Washington Square , Dr. Sloper definitely refuses to give Catherine his approval of her engagement to Morris Townsend. Nevertheless, Morris and Catherine agree to elope and get married without her father's approval. The only reason they do not get married is that Morris jilts the poor girl. She has an independent income of $10,000 a year, but when her father dies she would have an income of $30,000. Morris is, in effect, selling himself for $30,000. But when he realizes that Catherine's father will not relent in his threat to disinherit his daughter if she marries without his consent, Morris calculates that he is worth more in the marriage market than $10,000 a year. He is a cold, calculating, mercenary young man. He knows he can have his choice of dozens of marriageable girls because of his good looks and charm, but Catherine is the only girl who could bring him a...

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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