The Aspern Papers Analysis

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This obsession results in arrogance and greed, consuming the Narrator and leading to his ultimate regret. I. The Balance of Value and Privacy There is little reason to think that this story is meant to highlight the balance between value and privacy. Although the Narrator and his partner find great value in the works of Jeffrey Aspire, there is very little indication that others share in this desire to see the works.

In fact, the Narrator himself mentions, after referring to Aspire as a God, that he and his partner had “recognized IM most. ” 1 Additionally, Mrs..

Preset knew nothing of the significance of Miss Bordeaux in spite of having lived in Venice for 15 years. Mrs.. Preset also recognizes the Narrator’s obsession when mentioning that the Narrator appeared to be seeking the “answer to the riddle of the universe.

“2 This is not to say that Jeffrey Aspire is not well known or that his papers would not have been sought by others – Miss Bordeaux mentions he was “all the fashion”3 when she was young – but it is unlikely that his desire to make the papers public potentially justifies his deception.

Not only is there a lack of reason to believe that the papers hold great value to others, there is little reason to think that privacy considerations of Miss Bordeaux are meant to be compelling.

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There is an expectation of privacy with matters and documents that individuals choose to keep private, if even for the simple fact that they should have the ability to do so. This is especially true of valuables and personal mementos. However, James downplays the importance of the papers being kept secret.

The Aspern Papers Summary

Although Tina mentions that Miss Bordeaux ‘loves them”4 and is ‘Very fond f them,”5 she says nothing to imply that Miss Bordeaux would be particularly upset if others had read the papers. In fact, Tina reveals that Miss Bordeaux fondly talked Of Aspire twenty years ago and Tina mentions that she did not believe anything in the papers would be painful to Miss Bordeaux. Although Miss Bordeaux likely knew for a considerable time that the Narrator was scheming to get the papers, she presents him with the portrait of Aspire.

She knows that showing him the portrait will only increase the danger of the papers being taken, which indicates that concealing the papers was not the most important consideration for her. Rather, it seems that Miss Borderland’s primary motivation in her dealings with the Narrator is to acquire as much pecuniary profit as possible. The Narrator remarks multiple times that her interest in money was off-putt Eng, mentioning that he “couldn’t get used to the idea that this vision of pecuniary profit was most what drew out the divine Juliann. 6 Additionally, after Miss Bordeaux dies, Tina mentions that she believes Miss Bordeaux meant to tell her that she would have approved of the Narrator having the papers if he married Tina. Miss Bordeaux is not concerned with keeping the papers hidden for her privacy, but instead she keeps them hidden because she does not want to give anything away freely that she could instead use to enhance her financial standing and Titan’s wellbeing. Although we cannot be sure of Miss Borderland’s intent, James absolutely fails to highlight the importance to Miss Bordeaux that the papers be kept secret.

Lastly, James leaves little question as to whether the Narrators actions are warranted. The Narrator himself admits that he is sorry for the hypocrisy and duplicity that he must engage in, UT that he has no other option than to continue his course. He does not attempt to use the need for the papers as a justification of his actions, but merely the reason for them. The Narrator’s actions are clearly objectionable, as evidenced by his thoughts that he could sleep with Tina to mask his deception and that he enjoyed the idea that Miss Bordeaux could die at any moment, giving him the opportunity to “pounce on her possessions. 7 The lack of known value of the papers, the lack of showing that their revelation would cause harm, and the obviousness that the Narrators actions are unethical indicate that it was not James’ intent for the reader to struggle with whether or not the Narrator is validated in seeking the papers by deception. However, most readers still sympathize with the “publishing scoundrel. “8 II. The Curse of Obsession While driven by his obsession, leading him to deceive and attempt to steal, the Narrator fails in the very way he feared he might upon arriving at the home. As he predicts, it leaves him “without another arrow/’ for his bow. This defeat, and the reason we feel so connected to the Narrator in his quest s likely what led James to remark in the preface that he might have “looked up” Miss Claremont had he known of her whereabouts and he “luckily not had to deal with the difficult option. ” 10 Although the Narrator overcomes nearly every obstacle along the way, he does so at significant cost. Because the Narrator misreads Miss Borderland’s and Titan’s abilities, he thinks he is being cunning and deceptive, all the while falling into Miss Borderland’s traps. Initially, he desires to be housed by Miss Bordeaux, however he pays roughly 10 times the value of the lodging.

He also desires to be seen by her, which exults in purchasing additional flowers for the garden. Later, he wishes to see a portrait of Aspire and makes that known to Tina. Subsequently, Miss Bordeaux presents the portrait in the garden but keeps it from his possession. At each of these obstacles, he pays greatly or provides information about his motives and plans without gaining significant information in return. Miss Bordeaux does not show him the portrait because he wants to see it, but because she wants him to see it. Has he no reason to think that Tina made his request known to Miss Bordeaux and she knew that he was seeking the papers?

He absolutely does, but he is unable to look past the urge to obtain the papers and see that he faces a true adversary in Miss Bordeaux. Not only does each victory cost the Narrator greatly, he also suffers when finally achieving his goals. At the very beginning of the story he mentions to Mrs.. Preset that he had been unable to touch the hands of someone Aspire had touched or “look into a single pair of eyes into which his had looked. “1 1 He ends up beholding Miss Borderland’s “extraordinary eyes” at the cost Of being caught in the act of trying to find the papers and being “horribly ashamed. 2 In the end, he acquires the portrait of Aspire that he wanted, however it represents a very painful memory, such that whenever he looks at it he can “scarcely bear [his] loss. “13 What he has lost is perhaps the most debated topic of the story. The Narrator overcomes all of the obstacles he faced in his quest to get the papers, however when presented with the opportunity to discover them, he is unable to meet the request of marrying Tina. All of his work and deception has led him to the very moment where all he needs to do is accept, but he slips. Are the papers the loss he IS referring to?

Or is it perhaps the opportunity to marry Tina? Many possibilities can be offered as the reason for his loss, which is why the Narrator clarifies to the reader that he is referring to the papers. Regardless of the reason for his loss, the reflection and honest statement that he can scarcely bare the loss makes it clear that he has suffered greatly through these endeavors. But shouldn’t we view this as him getting his just deserts? Although he acts badly in attempting to acquire the papers, James makes it clear that the Narrator is not a “bad person” generally.

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The Aspern Papers Analysis
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