The novel follows Cassandra, a young woman from New England, as she searches for her place in the world. Oppressed by family and society, she attempts to break free from the expectations of domesticity and her role as a woman. "Cassandra, that man is a devil," a friend warns in one scene. "I like devils," she responds.
Recent scholars have tried to reclaim The Morgesons as an important step in women's literature. At the time of publication, it was unnoticed or dismissed. It did, however, elicit from Henry James what Alfred Habegger called "the most ferocious, in fact vicious, review Henry James is known to have written":
[The Morgesons] possessed not even the slightest mechanical coherency. It was a long tedious record of incoherent dialogue between persons irresponsible in their sayings and doings even to the verge of insanity. Of narrative, of exposition, of statement, there was not a page in the book... [The reader] arose with his head full of impressions as lively as they were disagreeable.
*Information from this post was gleaned in part from Henry James and the 'Woman Business' (2004) by Alfred Habegger.