A named place (Washington Square NYC). A named half century (1850). A named, sucessful, respected, clever physician (Dr. Sloper). A mature blossom (daughter Catherine, age 22). An unnamed emotion (greed, love, despair). A proposed match with a plausible coxcomb (Morris Townsend). Infinite modesty (Catherine).
A rejected lover (the mercenary Mr. Townsend). A silent battle of wits (Dr. Sloper & Catherine). Obstinacy. Treachorous traitors within the ranks (aunt Penniman). An extended trip to Europe (Dr. Sloper & Catherine, one year). Catherine remains in love, prepares to be married. The return home, to Washington Square, where Morris has been lounging about for the past year with aunt Penniman, drinking deeply of the doctor’s cellar, fingering the expensive cigars. An abrupt break (Morris knows he will never see the money, flees). Catherine’s coup over her father (tells him she has broken off her engagement with Mr. Townsend).
Seventeen years later (1868), Catherine is an elderly matron, unmarried, greatly liked, living out her life fully. Her father is dead. Morris comes back from the void, asks for an audience. Aunt Penniman takes the liberty of granting him one, traps Catherine into seeing him.