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Linus Roache, playing Kate's secret love, brings tortured Merton Densher where does James come up with these names? He has the sort of intense good looks and physical presence required for this role in spades; and his dramatic ability shines though, especially in his last scene with Millie, where he acknowledges his duplicity before the all-accepting love of the dying girl with an incredible raw emotionality.

I was most impressed with Allison Elliot's Millie, however. The story and the actors are tremendously aided by gorgeous cinematography especially the mournful beauty of rain-soaked Venice , costumes-to-die-for by Sandy Powell who wore that fabulous red dress to this year's Oscar, accepting the award for "Shakespeare in Love". She should have won it for this film , and beautiful music. A movie to be watched in a dark rainy afternoon, and savored like fine wine.

Start your free trial. Find showtimes, watch trailers, browse photos, track your Watchlist and rate your favorite movies and TV shows on your phone or tablet! Keep track of everything you watch; tell your friends. Full Cast and Crew. An impoverished woman who has been forced to choose between a privileged life with her wealthy aunt and her journalist lover, befriends an American heiress. When she discovers the heiress is attracted to her own lover and is dying, she sees a chance to have both the privileged life she cannot give up and the lover she cannot live without.

Henry James novel , Hossein Amini screenplay. Lonergan and Fincher and Boyle — oh my! Best British Costume Dramas. Share this Rating Title: The Wings of the Dove 7.

Use the HTML below. You must be a registered user to use the IMDb rating plugin. Nominated for 4 Oscars. Learn more More Like This. Astor Piazzolla's Oblivion Video Mileta Stankovic, Snezana Stankovic. A businessman thwarts his wife's bequest of an estate to another woman. Where Angels Fear to Tread View all 18 comments. In Henry James, we rarely if ever have a villain - a real, horrible blackguard character for whom we feel morally adequate enough to pass severe judgment. There are characters with evil intentions, who do evil thing: Merle and Gilbert Osmond, of The Portrait of a Lady , may be among the most "evil" duos in the James canon, if only for the tenderness we feel toward the passionate Isabel, who they snare.

What is perplexing in James, which frustrates u In Henry James, we rarely if ever have a villain - a real, horrible blackguard character for whom we feel morally adequate enough to pass severe judgment. What is perplexing in James, which frustrates us, is that we are nearly always on the precipice of love and hate for non-protagonist characters, there is an ambiguous moral haze which pervades James's works, and steals away our ability to classify, to count the troops of good and evil.

Moral ambiguity may be at its consummate peak in The Wings of the Dove , a book populated by characters which elicit, in turnstile fashion, our censure and sympathy, which are condemned only to be redeemed, and condemned again. With the exception of the fatally ill, angelic, Milly Theale, and perhaps her duena Susan Shepherd , whom we may only hold her naivete against, no character remains unmarred by human foible - and that is the transcendent beauty of The Wings of the Dove.

Set in the mannered and deeply class-divided Victorian England, the story follows Kate Croy and her lover, Merton Densher: Despite Densher's willingness to break with convention and marry the higher-class, though essentially orphaned, Kate, if he did so she would be disinherited by her wealthy aunt-dowager, Maud.

When an enigmatic young American woman, Milly, arrives on the scene, connected to Maud through her travel companion Susan, it is discovered that she is the "wealthiest orphan in America" - and also that she is fatally sick. These dual revelations begin the moral descent of many of the money-lusty characters including Lord Mark, a fading noble, and our own Kate Croy. Kate's quick-witted devices which she places upon Milly's money are startling, and reveal her perniciously creative mind.

Her gift of morbid certitude is almost reminiscent of Lady Macbeth and at times, Macbeth himself in its terrible improvisational tact, and malignant boldness which surpasses conventional expectations of her 'weaker sex'. Kate's Janus-faced friendship with Milly is chilling, and veiled.


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While she seems to hold some genuine affection for Milly at the onset of their friendship, it cools to a remote admiration for her unnatural goodness, and is corrupted by Milly's money to a hauntingly composed opportunism - as Kate waits for Milly to die. Perhap's the book's greatest strength is the transition of perspectives between the three main characters: Kate, Milly, and Merton. In addition to a masterful play of dramatic ironies, in which there is ever the floating question-mark of "who knows what? Merton Densher remains for me one of the most intriguing and frustrating characters in the Jamesian universe.

Like his counterpart, Kate, he too hearkens us to Shakespeare's Macbeth in his initial moral reticence, rash complicity, and ultimately trapped feeling of remorse for his transgressions against the innocent and doting Milly. Unlike Macbeth though undeserving of a comparison to Hamlet , his great flaw is not haste but hesitation: He had thought, no doubt, from the day he was born, much more than he had acted; except indeed that he remembered thoughts--a few of them--which at the moment of their coming to him had thrilled him almost like adventures. But anything like his actual state he had not, as to the prohibition of impulse, accident, range--the prohibition in other words of freedom--hitherto known.

What Densher lacks is Macbeth's horrible boldness to follow through, he only half commits and so is at one time less of a villain than Macbeth, but as morally outrageous and self-emasculating. In a book which is overwhelmingly about the illusion of gender, Merton is the only significant male figure, while significantly lacking in conventional masculinity - a trait which is made up for in his stronger half, Kate.


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The almost epicene quality of Densher is perhaps partially a result of his consort, which is described as a "circle of petticoats. Merton's over-reliance on consideration, and his moral hesitations bring in to question his love for Kate.

The Wings of the Dove

Does he love her, or does he simply envy her stirring temerity? Left alone with Milly, he is drawn to her subtle bravery and unnatural kindness and generosity - something which he lacks in his life with Kate, but perhaps he is also drawn to her fragility. Milly is the only character who despite her moving strength in character, is reliant on the physical aid of others. Merton's perverted views of love leave the reader unsure of him. He seems to us hopelessly lost. Milly's death brings upon Merton a Jamesian epiphany: He is aware of the spoiled happiness he may look forward to married to Kate, he is left aware, not of what he has to gain through Kate, but what he has lost in losing Milly.

The moral descent of Kate coincides with the moral ascension of Merton: The ending is perhaps one of the most moving I have read, with such a poignancy and fullness of emotion it is shocking: I could in your place; and you're one for whom it will do. Her memory's your love. You want no other. Then he only said: We hope not, but we are not left with the knowing petit mort which we feel at the close of The Portrait of a Lady , the conclusion is not forgone, there is time to redeem what one has left of life.

The novel what actually written after The Ambassadors , though publishing circumstances delayed the later book's publication, and the ending is reflective of the solemnity of "the life unlived" of Lambert Strether. It is the openness of the ending which sets it apart from some of James's other works. We are saddened to see the dissolution of love, but we question whether what Densher and Kate felt for each other was truly love at all.

Kate's love for her father, which seems to transcend situation, is starkly juxtaposed to her love for Merton which seems so dependent on his situation. While Kate descends in our moral estimation of her, it seems that by the end of the novel she reaches her own epiphany, it seems she has learned love from Milly, a thing which before had eluded her. So we are left reservedly heartbroken at the end, for Kate, but also reservedly happy.

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The friendship of Milly ameliorates both Kate and Densher: But she changes them completely: View all 3 comments. This is an extermely rewarding book, though James makes the reader work for it, to be sure. But allowing for all that, this is nonetheless a masterpiece, a character AND plot-driven story that touches on the tautest of emotional nerves. In other words, James repays the reader for his efforts in multiples. I read a really enticing review of this, got all excited, drove across three suburbs and two villages to get to the library where it was mouldering on the shelf, got it home, opened the first page, and then I remembered.

Friends don't let friends read Henry James. If you're thinking about reading this, then be warned. The sentences are constructed like algebraic equations, with nested parenthesis within nested parenthesis within nested parenthesis. It gets to the point you feel that, Nope, sorry. It gets to the point you feel that, like the constipated mathematician, you have to work it out with a pencil.

First sentence She waited, Kate Croy, for her father to come in, but he kept her unconscionably, and there were moments at which she showed herself, in the glass over the mantel, a face positively pale with the irritation that had brought her to the point of going away without sight of him. Life is too short to read books that are built like a set of babushka dolls. I'm actually going to set up a new shelf: This is the first book on that shelf.

Henry James has beautiful people inside of his head, if only his verbal diarrhea didn't get in the way.

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Dear Jesus, I wish he knew how to write a short sentence. Dec 23, Michele rated it really liked it Recommends it for: People with a lot of time and a dictionary. I swear I will read Henry James before I die. It might take that long for me to finish this book, considering I have to read each sentence at least 3 times.

Renewed twice and still only got to page The man is a master of motive and character study, once you can figure out what he's actually saying. The pattern seems to be a few pages of character's developing thought, reasoning, and analysis of events, then finally arriving at the character's perspective. Then several pages of dialog to back it up.

Once you get it, it's fascinating. It's the Victorian Age, and the characters are as repressed as it gets, which explains why everything is almost painfully understated. In one sense, the book reads like pages of Victorian gossip. In lesser hands, the plot would read like a bad soap opera. I find myself racing to the end to find out how it all turns out. This book has been well worth the perseverance. It's juicy to the last sentence. Oct 16, Mary Anne rated it really liked it Shelves: I still don't know. We all knew something.

But what do they know? James uses a very oblique writing style. This style seems to say so much without saying anything at all. Very little is crystal clear in this book, to the extent that when Kate actually directs Densher in her plot, the directness of Unknown page: Very little is crystal clear in this book, to the extent that when Kate actually directs Densher in her plot, the directness of her words seem crass.

But not to worry, because this is charity work. The writing, while lengthy, is quite beautiful. View all 4 comments. In many ways, it's a return to the eroticised economic triangle of The Portrait of a Lady , but this time it's the European lovers with whom we're most aligned, complicating our responses to, and negotiation through, the book. In lots of ways there's more 'action' than in many of James' no 4. In lots of ways there's more 'action' than in many of James' novels, but the real dynamic is that between characters, and within the conscience of individuals especially, perhaps, Merton Densher, the man around whom so many women circulate, albeit for different reasons.

Like Isabel Archer before her, Milly has an American innocence that clashes with the guile of her European friends, and her desire to live becomes the quest around which so much of the book revolves. Make no mistake, James' prose is at its most labyrinthine and Latinate in this book, occasionally tipping over into obscurity - it forces us to read slowly both for syntactical reasons but also to unweave the complex, sometimes contradictory, psychological impulses and nuances of the characters and their conversations. The dialogue, particularly, is tremendous, and the 'big' scenes, especially those between Kate and Merton, are exemplary of James' deep interest in the inner workings of personal psychology.

This is also and I'm aware of the oddness of associating this word with James a deeply erotic novel, but a kind of underground, dark, secret form of eroticism that helps to mark this as a modernist work rather than a Victorian hangover. I've docked half a star because there are places where it's nigh on impossible to make sense of what James is getting at - but overall a stunningly complex, thrilling, breathtaking drama that refuses closure but remains satisfying. Jan 06, David rated it it was amazing. Gives new meaning to the expression "adventures in reading.

I found the experience altogether fascinating, both in its challenges and its rewards--and there were wonderful rewards, passages and situations t Gives new meaning to the expression "adventures in reading. I found the experience altogether fascinating, both in its challenges and its rewards--and there were wonderful rewards, passages and situations that moved me to tears and to laughter both.

The problem of the style remains just that--a problem, and one that reading should not try to make disappear too quickly, whether in the negative mode of curt dismissal which renders curiosity about the style pointless or the positive mode of effusive admiration which renders curiosity needless. I found it interesting to observe the ghost of Hawthorne in the way James manages his narrative. As in The Scarlet Letter, the surfaces of conversation and social action are mere occasions that serve to confirm the slow deep movement of motive and feeling that James is at such pains to render in that so frequently maddening prose.

There are episodes between Kate Croy and Densher that in many ways recreate those between Hester Prynne and Dimmesdale; and Jane Austen reappears in certain of James' situations and plot devices--the secret engagement between Kate Croy and Merton Densher replays, and in interesting ways revises, the secret engagement of Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax in Austen's Emma.

The impecunious Kate Croy is as emphatically active and morally implicated as the equally impecunious Jane Fairfax is passive and morally blameless. I was struck how, like his brother William, Henry James is at bottom a depth psychologist of extraordinary orginality and penetration. Is part of the trouble this book gives us that so much of what it psychologically finds as it investigates the case of Kate Croy, Merton Densher, and Milly Theale does not conform to our assumptions, expectations, and understandings about how characters are supposed to think and feel and act, in novels or in life?

At the end, there remain passages that elude me--James' perceptions remain beyond me at many points. Yet the book offers a multitude of satisfactions--it is, after all, a first-rate romantic thriller, full of suspenseful episodes and populated with a cast of fascinating characters whose intrigues are fascinatingly presented and developed.

As so often in literature, the greatness of this work resides as much or more in its difficulties and strangenesses as in the sweets--and they are many--it serves up for our taste. Jan 24, Rachel rated it really liked it. I have a thing for Henry James. I suppose many students find him dense and confusing. But I love his style. I love the careful, layered characterizations, the detailed descriptions, and the way James' novels flow mostly from internal dialogue. His artistry is in telling the story through the consciousness of the characters. I simply love it!

Gotta love the undercurrent of Victorian sensuality--in the books the untold is the told. Sep 27, Gary Inbinder rated it it was amazing Shelves: This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Kate Croy, the active protagonist in this drama, begins the story in a state of existential conflict from which she struggles and schemes to extricate herself as the intricate, character-driven plot unfolds.

Kate is a penniless young woman dependent upon the good wil Second reading. Kate is a penniless young woman dependent upon the good will of her wealthy, social-climbing aunt. Kate is attractive and fashionable; her aunt has brought Kate out in London society with the goal of arranging an advantageous marriage for her niece. Moreover, Kate carries the burden of a needy, good-for-nothing father and a widowed sister living in borderline poverty with her children. However, Kate is in love with Merton Densher, a handsome, charming but poor journalist. Opportunity knocks in the form of Millie Theale, an immensely wealthy young American woman with no family of her own.

And Millie has a secret: When Kate learns the secret, she devises a scheme that might solve all her problems.

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But then, to quote Robert Burns: In this allegorical context, Kate and Merton stand-in for a sinful Adam and Eve and the various relationships among the characters, the situations and settings can support such an interpretation. Nevertheless, the allegory makes sense of the enigmatic ending. She adds this emphasis: Should this novel be read as an allegory? James was interested in the use of symbolism and allegory in art. The downside is convoluted sentences that run as long as paragraphs and paragraphs that run more than a page.

Well, maybe not ever, but definitely the worst one yet on this list and there have been some that have sucked mightily. How this book made the list, I have no idea, but it has rattled my already shaky faith in the validity of this list. I suspect that it has something to do with one Mr. Gore Vidal, who, judging from the little blurb on the back of the dust jacket of the copy that I hav The Wings of the Dove Henry James 26 June 8, This has to be the worst book that I have ever read. Gore Vidal, who, judging from the little blurb on the back of the dust jacket of the copy that I have, thinks that Henry James is the be-all to end-all of modern literature.

If I ever see Mr. There are two more books of Mr.

ON THE WINGS OF A DOVE

I own a handsome copy of The Ambassadors, and was quite proud of obtaining it before reading this book. Now I think that I might use it to soak up some oil stains in my driveway. To the book — James spends a huge amount of time being so descriptive about pointless things that the reader is left without a clue as to what is happening in the book, or who anyone is, or what he or she is even dong there. And sucked it did. I am happy to report that I only paid a dollar for my copy of this book, which was withdrawn from the Conroe, Texas library, possibly in fear that it might, by some strange literary osmosis, make all the other books on the shelf suck as well.

It had only been read once, by some unfortunate soul who was a sloppy reader and had spilled soup or something on the pages and had only made it to page or so before either personally returning it to the library, or having it returned to the library by some friend or family member after prying it from the dead, cold hands of a reader that had eaten poison to relieve the painful existence that their life had become after reading part of this book.

I digress… It only took pages of agony for this book to get in the least bit interesting. I had, after all, just figured out that Mrs. Stringham was Susan Shepherd, and that led me to assume that Mrs. Aunt Maud, was Maud Maningham, a fact that should have been made clear at the onset of the book. Suspense in writing should not come from figuring out to whom the author is referring to unless they are some kind of spy, double agent, or in some alternate reality.

Thanks for the clarity, Henry. What the hell kind of name is Merton, anyway? I do know that Merton Densher comes close to sharing with Dick Diver the most unfortunate name in literature. Come to think of it, I want my dollar back. This is probably not the best choice for an audio book - it is really quite intricate, and I struggled at times to find the referent in some of these Jamesian sentences, even as Juliet Stevenson did her usual remarkable job. As with Portrait of the Lady, I managed to forget the exact contours of the plot since my first reading some 25 years ago or so. With Kate as a companion, Milly goes to see an eminent physician, Sir Luke Strett, because she worries that she is suffering from an incurable disease.

The doctor is noncommittal but Milly fears the worst. Kate suspects that Milly is deathly ill. After the trip to America where he had met Milly, Densher returns to find the heiress in London. Kate wants Densher to pay as much attention as possible to Milly, though at first he doesn't quite know why. Kate has been careful to conceal from Milly and everybody else that she and Densher are engaged.

With the threat of serious illness hanging over her, Milly decides to travel to Venice with Mrs. Aunt Maud, Kate and Densher follow her. At a party Milly gives in her Venice palazzo the older Palazzo Barbaro , called "Palazzo Leporelli" in the novel , Kate finally reveals her complete plan to Densher: Densher had suspected this was Kate's idea, and he demands that she consummate their affair before he will go along with her plan.

Unfortunately, the dying girl learns from a former suitor of Kate's about the plot to get her money. She withdraws from Densher and her condition deteriorates. Densher sees her one last time before he leaves for London, where he eventually receives news of Milly's death. Milly does leave him a large amount of money despite everything. But Densher does not accept the money, and he will not marry Kate unless she also refuses the bequest.

Conversely, if Kate chooses the money instead of him, Densher offers to make the bequest over to her in full. The lovers part on the novel's final page with a cryptic exclamation from Kate: Milly is based on Minny Temple — , James' beloved cousin who died from tuberculosis.