The American By Henry James Character Analysis The Bellegardes

Madame and Urbain de Bellegarde represent the old order of the aristocracy. They are cold. They are content with their own limited circle of friends and desire no new experience and no intrusion upon their own way of life. They present, however, a formidable front to the world. We never see them acting in a friendly and spontaneous way. All of their actions are formal, reserved and distant. They represent the absolute form and ceremony. Their emphasis on form and appearance will lead them to commit any act, even murder, in order to preserve these old rituals. Thus, they murdered M. de Bellegarde partly because he was going to go against the old traditions of marrying his oldest daughter to a rich old count.

The Bellegardes are also very proud and very strong. They perform their acts with a certain knowledge that they are right and others are wrong. They are polished and refined to the point of being artificial, and finally as the name implies they are the "beautiful guardes" of old order of doing things.

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At the ball, who tries to point out some things to Newman, when he fails to realize them on his own?




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