Tag Archives: the beast in the jungle

Another Beast of a Love Story

“Oh I know all about the ways of doing Dr. Campbell, but that certainly ain’t the kind of love I mean when I am talking. I mean real strong, hot love Dr. Campbell, that makes you do anything for somebody that loves you.” Stein, Gertrude. Three Lives. “Melanctha.” Dover Publications, New York, 1994. pg.70.

“One kind of loving seems to me is like one has a good quiet feeling in a family when one does his work, and is always living good and being regular, and the other way of loving is just like having it like any animal that’s low in the streets together, and that doesn’t seem to me very good.” pg 71.

Having read to page 76 ~ Stein juxtaposes two opposing definitions of love through Melanctha and Dr. Campbell. Melanctha only knows physical love from her past and feels it is what makes a real connection between two people, passion and physical intimacy. It gives her power. Campbell sees love as a mental connection, a friendship. He is disgusted by the idea of physical lust. Their budding relationship makes me thing of Marcher and May’s relationship and the different expectations and beliefs one has about what love should be, what kind of love they are capable of. Stein’s characters all have their own definitions of love and act on them in different ways. If love is the meaning of life, it is hard to find someone who shares the same definition or to classify one as right or one as wrong. Stein explores all degrees of love.

Self-fulfilling Prophecy

The escape would have been to love her; then, then he would have lived. She had lived–who could say now with what passion?–since she had loved him for himself; whereas he had never thought of her (ah how it hugely glared at him!) but in the chill of his egotism and the light of her use. Her spoken words came back to him–the chain stretched and stretched. The Beast had lurked indeed, and the Beast, at its hour, had sprung; it had sprung in that twilight of the cold April when, pale, ill, wasted, but all beautiful, and perhaps even then recoverable, she had risen from her chair to stand before him and let him imaginably guess. It had sprung as he didn’t guess; it had sprung as she hopelessly turned from him, and the mark, by the time he left her, had fallen where it was to fall. He had justified his fear and achieved his fate; he had failed, with the last exactitude, of all he was to fail of; and a moan now rose to his lips as he remembered she had prayed he mightn’t know. This horror of waking–this was knowledge, knowledge under the breath of which the very tears in his eyes seemed to freeze. Through them, none the less, he tried to fix it and hold it; he kept it there before him so that he might feel the pain. That at least, belated and bitter, had something of the taste of life. But the bitterness suddenly sickened him, and it was as if, horribly, he saw, in the truth, in the cruelty of his image, what had been appointed and done. He saw the Jungle of his life and saw the lurking Beast; then, while he looked, perceived it, as by a stir of the air, rise, huge and hideous, for the leap that was to settle him. His eyes darkened–it was close; and, instinctively turning, in his hallucination, to avoid it, he flung himself, face down, on the tomb (James, 243-44)

James, Henry. “The Beast in the Jungle.” In The Better Sort. New York: Scribner, 1903. Internet Archive. http://archive.org/details/bettersortoojamegoog.

Notes: destiny, tragic irony, fate, taking control of one’s own life, argument if we really have control over destiny, self-fulfilling prophecy.

Take things as they come

“If it had no importance he scarcely knew why his actual impression of her should so seem to have so much; the answer to which, however, was that in such a life as they all appeared to be leading for the moment one could but take things as they come.” 

James, Henry. “The Beast in the Jungle.” In The Better Sort. New York: Scribner, 1903. Internet Archive. http://archive.org/details/bettersort00jamegoog. (191).

Notes: impressions, life, taking things as they come, reality

Regretting lack of action

They looked at each other as with the feeling of an occasion missed; the present one would have been so much better if the other, in the far distance, in the foreign land, hadn’t been so stupidly meagre. There weren’t, apparently, all counted, more than a dozen little old things that had succeeded in coming to pass between them; trivialities of youth, simplicities of freshness, stupidities of ignorance, small possible germs, but too deeply buried–too deeply (didn’t it seem?) to sprout after so many years.

James, Henry. “The Beast in the Jungle.” In The Better Sort. New York: Scribner, 1903. Internet Archive. http://archive.org/details/bettersort00jamegoog (193)

Notes: met before, missed opportunities that he seems to regret, years have passed, observes her closely.