The Beast in the Jungle Characters

Henry James


(Short Stories for Students)

May Bartram
In ‘‘The Beast in the Jungle,’’ May Bartram serves as a companion figure to the story’s protago- nist, John Marcher. Very little is learned about her from the narrator, as the narrator is mostly concerned with conveying the thoughts of Marcher. (From Marcher’s point of view she is an intelligent and charming woman.) And when the story departs from the narrator’s rendering of Marcher’s point of view, the various dialogues between Marcher and Bartram do little to reveal the depths of her character to the reader. Their exchanges are not only highly abstract and elliptical, with both Bartram and Marcher declining to make direct statements about any one thing, they also consistently revolve around the topic of Marcher’s ‘‘beast,’’ as he calls his anticipated fate, and never around things specific to Bartram’s life. From these highly cautious and ambiguous exchanges, we gain the sense that she is a woman who never relinquishes control of her emotions, and who, very possibly, never expresses her deepest feelings to Marcher. At best, she hints at things, and when she hints she appears to know better than Marcher the truth of his fate. Thus, she can be said to be as reserved and aloof as Marcher, in her own way.

John Marcher
John Marcher is the protagonist of Henry James’s ‘‘The Beast in the Jungle.’’ He is a Londoner of modest private wealth who also holds a minor governmental position....

(The entire section is 388 words.)