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“The Beast in the Jungle” by Henry James Essay

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Updated: Oct 21st, 2021

The Beast in the Jungle is a novella written by Henry James in 1903. James presents Marcher who is obsessed with his own fate. Undoubtedly, the novella is not appealing to all readers. Marcher and his obsession appear to be unrealistic and exaggerated. There is little action as well. Even the title of the novella does not fit the story itself.

The major theme is hard to identify and the reader feels lost in the points raised by James.

In my personal opinion, The Beast in the Jungle violates all rules of writing. The story is not interesting to read and there is nothing left in the memory to share with others. Marcher represents the typical person who probably has a mental disorder because he is obsessed with the fear that his life is defined by a catastrophic event. There are thousands of people who are afraid of catastrophes or hope for a remarkable event to happen in their lives. Nevertheless, Marcher’s obsession marks every aspect of his life. Marcher is a typical egoist who is centered on his own personality. He does not want to marry only because he is not willing to share his spectacular fate with any person, even his wife. Such an exceptional egoism makes Marcher a negative character; even though a reader may feel pity for him.

The Beast in the Jungle is definitely not one of the stories to read twice.

While James keeps the attention and interest of the reader from the first till the last line, there is no desire to repeat the reading ever again. In other words, I would not recommend The Beast in the Jungle for reading. Marcher is a memorable personality though, despite his strangeness and obsession. He leads a relatively normal life and communicates with his old friend May.

Marcher takes her to the theatre and they have dinner together. Nevertheless, he does not allow her to become a part of his life believing that it is done for her own sake. There are two possible explanations for this: 1) Marcher does not want to share the success of the remarkable event happens in his life or 2) Marcher wants to protect May if a catastrophic event occurs. The readers have no chance to learn the true cause of Marcher’s obsession.

Special attention should be paid to the language used by James. It is important to note that the novella was written over a hundred years ago. As a result, dialogues are outdated and language is mostly stilted. Undoubtedly, The Beast in the Jungle is a psychological drama with Marcher being a tragic protagonist. Unexpectedly enough, Marcher’s egoism is of high relevance to modern societies.

Many of the modern readers may recognize themselves as Marchers who are waiting for something remarkable to happen in their lives. As a result, they waste their lives in empty hopes and cause suffering to the people who love them.

The Beast in the Jungle is hard to read, harder to understand, and the hardest to analyze. The aim of the novella is not clear while the reader is left speechless with Marcher’s obsession and egoism. Overall, the novella makes an unpleasant impression and does not arouse the desire to read it for the second time. The only feature of The Beast in the Jungle that deserves attention is the unique psychological portrait of a person who wastes his life in baseless fears and empty hopes.

References

James, H. (2018). Beast in the jungle. BookRix.

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IvyPanda. ""The Beast in the Jungle" by Henry James." October 21, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-beast-in-the-jungle-by-henry-james/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. ""The Beast in the Jungle" by Henry James." October 21, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-beast-in-the-jungle-by-henry-james/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) '"The Beast in the Jungle" by Henry James'. 21 October.

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