The Jolly Corner Essay

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Johnson teaches American literature at the University of Pennsylvania where he recently received his Ph.D. In the following essay, Johnson explores the function of windows in "The Jolly Corner."

Opening a window may not seem an important event in life; after all, Brydon hired Mrs. Muldoon "for a daily hour to open windows and dust and sweep." Yet when Brydon opens the window after retreating from his alter ego, the effect is nearly magical, "a sharp rupture of his spell." By looking closely at how windows function literally and figuratively in the story, one can understand both Brydon's limitation as a hero and James's subtle criticism of the protagonist's simplistically oppositional thinking. With images of architecture and specifically of windows, James explores the boundaries between public and private, as well as individual and community.

In the 1908 preface to his New York Edition of The Portrait of a...

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This section contains 2,071 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Jolly Corner Study Guide
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Short Stories for Students
The Jolly Corner from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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