The Presentation Of Pemberton In The Pupil By Henry James

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In the opening passage of “The Pupil” by Henry James, James depicts three characters and the relationships among them. Through the use of irony and an omniscient point of view, Pemberton, Mrs. Moreen, and Morgan Moreen are thoroughly mocked, and James creates a caustic portrayal of a young man being hired for his first job. All characters featured in the passage are viewed through the perspective of the omniscient narrator. While the narrator’s tone shifts throughout the passage, the mocking tone is the steady basis of the speaker’s drabble. None of the characters are portrayed in a flattering light. Pemberton himself whom the passage revolves around is hardly sympathetic to the reader, and Mrs. Moreen and her son are described as such that…show more content…
In the first paragraph, the narrator nearly describes Pemberton without bias, almost effecting upon the reader a need to care for the hesitant “poor young man” (Line 1). Fresh out of the university and with no real employment history, the reader is forced to feel some hint of sympathy for Pemberton. However, the narrator’s tone soon draws mocking of the man as the passage progresses. At the same time, the power imbalance between Pemberton and the Moreens also becomes more apparent. Fearing the consequences of asking Mrs. Moreen his salary figures, Pemberton also acknowledges the lengthy looks that Morgan gives to him when he returns to the room after he was sent to fetch his mother’s fan (Line 17). Under his gaze, Pemberton worries that he is being scrutinized by his pupil and he further wonders whether the young boy will excel him academically (Line 53). Even bearing witness to the mother and son’s relationship exemplifies how Pemberton views the pair. Pemberton carries himself with caution when speaking to Mrs. Moreen, and it is in his opinion that Morgan should as well when he speaks to his mother (Line 20). Despite Morgan’s weakly state and appearance, naturally anxious Pemberton still feels insecure in his presence as well as his mother’s because of her false sophistication, which serves the ironic sentiment of the passage that the narrator’s mocking tone
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