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Voice and perspective in Henry James’ Daisy Miller
In the novel Daisy Miller, Henry James presents his literary work from the perspective of a number of characters, Winterbourne, Daisy, and Winterbourne’s aunt Mrs. Costello and others. James moves his narration into the minds various characters at separate moments, bringing about a first-person perspective thoughts through a kind of omniscient third-person narration. According to (Barry, 2002), the use of first person narrator is evident in this lines “the only very definite conclusion he came to was that he should enjoy deucedly ‘going off’ with her somewhere” (406).The third-person narrator who’s speaking wouldn’t say “deucedly,” but Winterbourne would.(Barry,2002)
James starts off the novel with a small intimation of a first-person narrator. This can be evident in this excerpt, “I hardly know whether it was the analogies or the differences that were uppermost in the min of a young American…” (391). This voice never appears again after the novel’s first few pages. This is simply so because James controls the various characters’ internal thoughts and voices so seamlessly to an extend that it becomes necessary to put an external narrator in place at all.(Barry,2002)
Henry James plays with the perspective of Winterbourne’s perception of Daisy Miller after they engaged in small talk. “. . . he had already so generalized (sic) – what the most ‘distant’ American did: they came and planted themselves straight in front of you to show how rigidly unapproachable they were” (10). In critically analyzing this internal thought, one will find out that the narrator seem to imply that, appearance is the best way one should perceive another. Mr. Winterbourne’s perception of Daisy Miller was after his observations of her character and beauty. (Stern, 1994)
Deep into the novel Henry James narration brings about an issue on perspective. According to Prigozy (2002) the characters in Daisy Miller are perceiving each other based on others opinions and stereotypes, rather than their personal feelings. Such an occurrence would always lead the readers to questioning whether or not a character is a reliable narrator.
Henry James’s changing of character perspective is perhaps most evident especially when towards the end of each of the exchanges between Winterbourne and Daisy Miller. In a third person narrator, Winterbourne is very much enamoured with this very pretty, American girl. Daisy herself, however, emulates this shift in character perspective often enough through her reactions to Winterbourne’s attempts at courting her.
Voice and perspective Tender Is the Night
In the novel, Tender is the night, F. Scott Fitzgerald uses a style that intertwines, two narration techniques third Person (Omniscient) and first person (Central Narrator). Prigozy (2002) argues out that for the most part, the third person narrator of Tender is the Night occupies the points of view of Dick Diver, Nicole Diver, and Rosemary Hoyt, though it slips from time to time into many of the other characters, including Tommy Barban, Abe North, Baby Warren, and Franz Gregorovius. What makes the narrative so fascinating though is its sudden shift into the first person point of view of Nicole Diver.
F. Scott Fitzgerald takes unusual steps to marginalize Nicole's character. When a narrative takes on the persona or consciousness of a character it usually allows the character to become more realized and gain more of a voice in the novel, often explaining away actions that had been inexplicable before the shift in consciousness. However, Tender is the Night is written predominantly in a limited omniscient style of narrative, wherein the narrator is all-knowing.
Despite this omniscience, there are times when the text takes on the thoughts and perceptions of Nicole. The novel is also occasionally punctuated with short passages differing in both style and narrative mode, giving it more Modernist characteristics than Realist ones. According to Stern (1994), the passages in which Nicole's consciousness narrates contain many signifiers that portray Fitzgerald's perception of reality in these new and exciting forms. He further argues out that, modernism paradoxically became at once objective and personal, relentlessly and intensely subjective in its search for space and color relationships, space and mass relationships, tone and time relationships, word and meaning relationships that would express the artist's perceptions of reality in new forms.( Prigozy,2002)
F. Scott Fitzgerald makes the narrative more calculating to insinuate that Nicole is using her calculating nature to augment her girlish features. Walter (1980) says that the narrative implies that Nicole is doing this in order to ruin Dick. But whose calculation has the agency? Nicole's voice takes over, and seems to be plotting. Dick is no longer her savior, but a nuisance, as she discovers through her rising agency that he does not fit in well with her old-money lifestyle. Through the innocence and vulnerability given her by her madness, she is able to wear a mask. This mask of innocence covers up for her identity as a willing participant in the act of incest with her own father, and allows Fitzgerald to portray Rosemary as a slightly more negative double of Nicole. Both women seem innocent at first, and the two of them help to bring about Dick Diver's downfall. But while Nicole was close to her father in a negative and destructive way, Rosemary is close to her mother in a positive and beneficial one.
Development of meaning and distinctiveness in Daisy Miller
In Daisy Miller, several techniques used helped to accomplish this effort to communicate meaning of the novel by using advance narrative styles. The mixture of authority in the points of view certainly promotes the novels distinctiveness. It can be concluded that the structures of the novel vocice and perspectives as it appears in narrative style, frees Henry James from convention and allows novel to explore distinctiveness, but rather in its attempt to raise the novel to the status one well to examine how repetition can help generate meaning.
The style of narration and characterization has also made the Henry James’ Daisy Miller distinctive. Henry James uses narrations to fix readers attention in the novel and surpass the difficulty of establishing its precise meaning.
Development of meaning and distinctiveness in Tender is the Night
Just from the beginning of the novel tender is the night, the reader doest need to work hard to understand its meaning. All through the novel, Fitzgerald succeeds in creating antinomy in his narrative which makes the novel very distinctive. Although it has been argued that Tender Is the Night entails a double meaning which diffuses its potential threat to the reader, the narrative style works best to establish a unique connection between the narrator and the characters which makes the novel interesting to read.
According to Stern (1994), the distinctiveness in Tender Is the night emanates from narrative style used by the Fitzgerald to bring passion and enhances readers understanding of the meaning. She further attributes the distinctiveness to the success of the film shot based on the novel. Monk further argues that the narrative as originality and variety makes tender Is the night no surprise to readers though its paraphrasable meaning which became inseparable from its content all through the novel.
Comparison in voices and Perspective
The conspicuous similarity in the two novels is the point of view. In Both Daisy Miller and Tender Is the Night writers takes every opportunity and use the narrator voice, and the point of view develop meaning and reinforce the text. Walter (1980) says Voice and Language In Henry James Daisy Miller and F.Scott’s Tender is the night, are uniquely done that it can confuse a reader as being work on one author but they are oceans apart.
Daisy Miller Language styles look just like the one used in Tender is the Night. Through the voice of Randolph Miller, it is repeatedly suggested that Daisy Miller was not fond of her aunt through her language. Henry James allows the reader to gather information for ourselves about Daisy from her use of language. Same to Nicole in Tender is the Night the writer uses the same techniques. You will only learn Nicole attitudes from her language.
Change of voices is also evident both texts. When Winterbourne arrived, Daisy Miller was not there, "Well, I told her that there was no use in her getting dressed before dinner if she was ..... and the rugged surface of the Palatine was muffled with tender verdure. In the same manner F.scott presented voices in a variety of ways that suggested changes in narration, “….the sound of the woman's voice came to him distinctly in the warm night air. (Walter, 1980)
Contrast in voices and perspective
In Daisy Miller, Henry James expresses to reader an encounter that distinguishes what appears to be true in real life his narration. “... She travels all over town, all hours of the night, with new, strange men, unaccompanied. F. Scott though does not document such encounters.
Tenders Is the Night presents voices and perspective through trivia but Henry James presents his work in a more bizarre way. For example in the text news that Daisy Miller was surrounded by half a dozen wonderful men would pass as unnatural "Well, I told her that there was no use in her getting dressed before…” but In tender Is the Night, what is presented is contextual humor.“……..He broke off, recognizing a familiar ... His voice was tense with enthusiasm. "(Maine, 2002)
How narrator’s voice and perspective reinforce meaning
Accumulation and accentuation of contextual meaning and its unique narration are the techniques that Henry James used in the novel to develop and reinforce meaning. Such techniques used in Daisy's voice, disintegrates into slack self-parody this build an image of the fatal difficulty in Tender Is the Night arising from the intense involvement of the narrator. This style might also be seen as an ironic perspective that attaches reader to the book.
In Daisy Miller and Tender is the night, the narrator drives the perspective in which a story is told. But he also engages in conversation with other characters a\at some point the other characters. The narrator does not participate in the story at some point bring about the third person perspective in the preceding pages but in the last chapter the narrator is equally involved in the text giving it a unique and distinctive look into the books.
Both Daisy Miller and Tender is the night has been presented in a unique way and manner. Although the voices and perspective in the novel seem to have a great disparity, there is still many point of synchrony in the two texts. The two text seem to have a unique way of presenting and developing the image of the characters, but one gigantic similarity is in the way the narration styles and technique. Both narrators mix the fist person and the third person in their presentation.
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