The Real Thing in James's "The Real Thing" | BYU Studies

The Real Thing in James's "The Real Thing"

The Real Thing in James's "The Real Thing"
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The Real Thing in James's "The Real Thing"

Kenneth Bernard

In this short article, Bernard reviews how an artist in James's short story, "The Real Thing," has a difficult time displaying a couple that demonstrates the reality of wealth. However, they do not portray reality when posing for a painting, so the artist becomes frustrated and hires a lower-class man and a lower-class woman to pose for his painting. Bernard interprets this to mean that there is truly a new awareness of what constitutes reality in art. He also argues that the point of the story is that the artist must transform reality into art, even though the artist in this short story does not succeed in doing this. Bernard states that in order for an artist to successfully transform reality into art, he must recognize that the foundation of good art is compassion for humanity.

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