A Character In Henry James’ Short Story, Portrait Of A

605 words - 2 pages

A character in Henry James' short story, Portrait of a Lady, Madame Merle has greater validity in her argument that the self comes through our surroundings. Her points that our clothing, company, and activities have a great deal of influence on the people we become are especially true today.Clothing is much more than cloth to cover the body. Clothing sets people apart and determines our social hierarchy. Isabel Archer holds an opposing view; that the self is not expressed by anything else, especially not clothing. Well, sorry Isabel, but half an hour at Flatirons Crossing or one day at Boulder High gives too many examples of clothing determining one's life so that I cannot agree. A freshman's first day at Boulder High is extremely stressful. Not just because there is the fear of getting lost, or "creeked," but also because wearing the "right" clothing is so important. From the beginning, it is easy to tell who is friends with whom based on clothing. I am an athlete, it is expected that I dress like an athlete, and to come to school dressed like anything else would draw attention to myself. No matter what level I look at, the conformity in dress obviously sets groups apart.The company one keeps also plays a big part in the envelope, as Madame Merle refers to, that defines our self. I am a jock. Ask anyone. How is it that what I am can be summed up in one word, or that others could do the same? Easy, my surroundings. I do sports. So do my friends. I dress in clothes ready for practice or reflecting past tournaments. I am a billboard for volleyball. And because of this activity, I can define who I am by the people around me. Archer may argue that...

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