Are Isabel Archer, John Marcher, and the narrator of The Figure in the Carpet soul mates? The connection is as intriguing and subtle as it is unexpected. First, consider that these three are among the many characters of Henry James's fiction who seek to elevate themselves above common humanity and defeating twists of misfortune. Isabel Archer believes that her devotion to principle, at any cost. transforms her renunciation of Casper Goodwood and the world outside the suffocating Palazzo Roccanera into sacred self-denial, an "effort to enunciate her relation to a reality larger than her individual self" (Warner 354) and a "renunciation of her illusions, her prejudice, and her cowardice" so that "she is capable of facing what she knows lies in store" from the oppressive Gilbert Osmond (Jones 51). In a similar act of renunciation, John Marcher concludes that the terrible experience, the beast, that must spring on him is so traumatic that he must detach himself from human society in order to protect these lesser beings. The literary critic of The Figure in the Carpet believes his obsession with literature consecrates him to a cause so holy that humanity becomes an aggregate of inconsequential inferiors. According to Warren Johnson, he is an individual "whose exclusion frees him to perceive full meaning in every moment …" (237).



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