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The Master Themes

This Study Guide consists of approximately 50 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Master.
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Decorum

Decorum is the idea that there is proper way to behave in society, and the system of rules that defines what this behavior entails. In Victorian England, this system was rigidly stratified. As an American, though, Henry James would not fit into the entire system of rules - for example, his family became wealthy, but, since he had no title, he could not be considered upper class. Henry's fame, though, provides him some allowance in traveling in the higher circles of English society, and he almost completely buys into their sense of propriety. Thus, he becomes offended when a servant talks out of place and when Gosse hints that Henry may have purchased the services of young prostitutes.

The adherence to decorum also makes it difficult for him to pursue relationships, because his homosexuality lends another degree of complication to flirting. Most importantly, Henry will not consider breaking...

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