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The Venetian setting of The Wings of the Dove partakes of, and is inscribed in, two 19th-century archetypes: Venice as a particularly suitable seat for plots and conspiracies, deceptions and betrayals; the "decline" or "death-in-Venice" literary motif, with its long pedigree. The essay examines these motifs and Henry James's views of the city as decaying in her glory and splendid in her decay. The cold-blooded deception plot in Wings is characterized by a setting of wintry coldness, splashing rain, and even a touch of "high water." Sinking Venice is a mirror of sinking Milly Theale; a sense of coldness and despairing death prevails in the end.