Washington Square


Henry James

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Mrs. Catherine Harrington Sloper Character Analysis

Catherine Harrington was the charming, beautiful, accomplished young woman whom Dr. Austin Sloper married as a young man. Her substantial dowry helped Dr. Sloper establish his medical practice. They had a very happy, albeit brief, marriage—Catherine died less than two weeks after the birth of her daughter, Catherine Sloper. The couple had also lost a three-year-old boy two years earlier. The younger Catherine forever lives under the shadow of her far more dazzling mother.

Mrs. Catherine Harrington Sloper Quotes in Washington Square

The Washington Square quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Catherine Harrington Sloper or refer to Mrs. Catherine Harrington Sloper. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Gaining Independence Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Oxford University Press edition of Washington Square published in 2010.
Chapter 1 Quotes

For a man whose trade was to keep people alive he had certainly done poorly in his own family; and a bright doctor who within three years loses his wife and his little boy should perhaps be prepared to see either his skill or his affection impugned. Our friend, however, escaped criticism: that is, he escaped all criticism but his own, which was much the most competent and most formidable. He walked under the weight of this very private censure for the rest of his days, and bore forever the scars of a castigation to which the strongest hand he knew had treated him on the night that followed his wife’s death.

Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

Save when he fell in love with Catherine Harrington, he had never been dazzled, indeed, by any feminine characteristics whatever; and though he was to a certain extent what is called a ladies’ doctor, his private opinion of the more complicated sex was not exalted. He regarded its complications as more curious than edifying, and he had an idea of the beauty of reason, which was on the whole meagrely gratified by what he observed in his female patients. His wife had been a reasonable woman, but she was a bright exception; among several things that he was sure of, this was perhaps the principal. Such a conviction, of course, did little either to mitigate or to abbreviate his widowhood; and it set a limit to his recognition, at the best, of Catherine’s possibilities and of Mrs. Penniman’s ministrations.

Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 26 Quotes

“I wouldn’t say such a thing without being sure. I saw it, I felt it, in England, just before he came away. He talked to me one night—the last night; and then it came over me. You can tell when a person feels that way. I wouldn’t accuse him if he hadn’t made me feel that way. I don’t accuse him; I just tell you that that’s how it is. He can’t help it; we can’t govern our affections. Do I govern mine? mightn’t he say that to me? It’s because he is so fond of my mother, whom we lost so long ago. She was beautiful, and very, very brilliant; he is always thinking of her. I am not at all like her; Aunt Penniman has told me that. Of course it isn’t my fault; but neither is it his fault. All I mean is, it’s true; and it’s a stronger reason for his never being reconciled than simply his dislike for you.”

Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mrs. Catherine Harrington Sloper Character Timeline in Washington Square

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Catherine Harrington Sloper appears in Washington Square. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Class, Wealth, and Social Status Theme Icon
...circles in New York. He has led a fortunate life—as a young man, he married Catherine Harrington , a charming woman whose substantial dowry had helped Dr. Sloper establish his practice. Aside... (full context)
Loss and Idealization Theme Icon
Women’s Limited Freedoms Theme Icon
...little boy, died at age three, despite Dr. Sloper’s best medical efforts. Two years later, Mrs. Catherine Harrington Sloper gave birth to a daughter, Catherine, “an inadequate substitute” for the son, and died herself... (full context)
Chapter 2
Loss and Idealization Theme Icon
Reason, Romanticism, and Blind Spots Theme Icon
Women’s Limited Freedoms Theme Icon
...“dazzled” by the intellect, or even the reason, of any woman except for the late Mrs. Sloper . Aunt Penniman is very romantic, with “a passion for little secrets and mysteries.” Dr.... (full context)
Chapter 22
Class, Wealth, and Social Status Theme Icon
...no fortune to be had (he doesn’t think Catherine’s $10,000 fortune from her late mother, Mrs. Catherine Harrington Sloper , to be adequate to his station). (full context)