Date of Award

Spring 1957

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Brown, Clarence A.

Second Advisor

Archer, Jerome W.

Third Advisor

Schwartz, Joseph


The drama is perhaps the most seductive of the arts. At least Henry James found it so. From childhood till old age, James was an inveterate play-goer, an enthusiastic admirer of the dramatic form. At last he testified conclusively to the genre's fascination for him by interrupting his career as novelist to devote five years to an attempt to master the dramatic form and establish himself as a playwright. His efforts ending in seeming failure, James reacted violently against the theater but continued to revere the drama. Even at a time of bitterest disappointment he could not quite shake off the hold which the drama exerted over him. Jame's primary relation to the drama is that of critic, rather than playwright. His whole attitude and practice as a dramatist grew from his critical tenets. In the exultation of his first attempts at play writing, James wrote jubilantly of his command of the form, "I have it in my pocket!" Forty years of theater-going and thirty years of critical analysis of the drama had furnished him with a whole theory of the nature of the drama and a knowledge of its techniques. This paper is an attempt to examine and evaluate the dramatic criticism of Henry James, viewing this criticism as an effort to define dramatic values. The criticism is viewed not in relation to Jame's work either as dramatist or novelist, but in relation to the drama of his age--a drama peculiarly without standards.



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