The Pupil

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In the opening passage of The Pupil, Henry James effectively presents three distinct characters. The literary devices of tone and point of view are most prominent in the opening passage in which James introduces the characters: Mrs. Moreen, Morgan Moreen, and Pemberton. The author utilized tone to produce an image as well as feelings towards the characters as well as the concept of aristocracy as a whole. The relationships between the characters add to the feelings that surround human society in the short story. The social structure of the aristocracy creates a setting for the story that makes the relationships even more complex. The bitter timidity of Pemberton revealed through his point of view exposes the underlying conflict beneath the surface in the relationship between him and his social superiors, Mrs. Moreen and her son Morgan.

Pemberton is immediately introduced as a poor young man. However, this is not due to a lack of effort or intelligence on his part. In fact, Pemberton is an Oxford graduate who is having trouble making money because of his social status. The short story is written in the third-person limited point of view. This allows the reader to experience the story, interactions, and dialogue from Pemberton’s perspective while not experiencing the story completely through his eyes. The point of view characterizes Pemberton as a timid, polite individual who is simply misunderstood and has not been given a fair opportunity. The characterization of Pemberton leads the reader to feel sympathetic for his situation. Pemberton is described as a person with the right skills, but the wrong social class. The sympathetic tone towards Pemberton is intended to cause the reader to look beyond his status according to the aristocracy and instead realize his true potential and character.

While the author was able to pick Pemberton’s brain, James characterizes the remaining characters through their actions and dialogue as well as the tone of the short...
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