Study Guide

The Wings of the Dove Gender

By Henry James

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Ah, the old "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" tune. When hasn't that been a favorite? The only thing more popular through the ages than a heterosexual love story is a heterosexual love story that sits back and speculates on just how different men and women are.

Henry James, being awesomesauce, doesn't just sit back and let the narrator of The Wings of The Dove say "Whoa! Men and women are, like, not the same at all!" Instead, he uses a character's views on gender to tell you more about that character's understanding of gender. Because he's the master of (extensive) character-building, James approaches even sociological questions from a character's point of view. 'Attaboy, James. We like you.

Questions About Gender

  1. Do you agree with any of the generalizations that characters in this book make about women and men? Which ones, and why? Please quote directly from the text to support your answer.
  2. At one point in the book, Kate feels like everything in her life would be much simpler if she were a man. Why does she think this?
  3. When Sir Luke Strett comes to Venice, Merton is happy to have an opportunity to hang out with a man for a change. Why is this the case? Use specific evidence from the text to support your answer.

Chew on This

In The Wings of the Dove, Henry James suggests that women are more interested in controlling the people around them than men are.

In The Wings of the Dove, James suggests that women are in general much better at social observation and subtlety than men.

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