When I completed my first reading of Henry James's short story "The Figure in the Carpet,” I was annoyed because the mysterious "figure" had not been revealed. Like the narrator of the story, I had presumed that there was indeed such a figure, and I was vexed at having allowed myself to be misled when I should have known better. (After all, anyone who has a passing acquaintance with Henry James knows of his fondness for ambiguity.) Nevertheless, I was upset with the story and with James himself. I found myself comparing the story unfavorably to his "The Turn of the Screw," even though that story is wonderfully ambiguous. Finally, I had to admit that, like the narrator, I had presupposed that this story would reveal some secret, that there was in fact a “buried treasure" hidden in the text. When the story revealed no such secret, I became as frustrated as the obsessed narrator.
© 1987 by the Board of Student Publications, University of Northern Iowa
"To Begin, a "Postscript","
Draftings In: Vol. 2
, Article 3.
Available at: https://scholarworks.uni.edu/draftings/vol2/iss1/3