The Portrait of a Lady
One of the great heroines of American literature, Isabel Archer, journeys to Europe in order to, as Henry James writes in his 1908 Preface, “affront her destiny.” James began The Portrait of a Lady without a plot or subject, only the slim but provocative notion of a young woman taking control of her fate. The result is a richly imagined study of an American heiress who turns away her suitors in an effort to first establish—and then protect—her independence. But Isabel’s pursuit of spiritual freedom collapses when she meets the captivating Gilbert Osmond. “James’s formidable powers of observation, his stance as a kind of bachelor recorder of human doings in which he is not involved,” writes Hortense Calisher, “make him a first-class documentarian, joining him to that great body of storytellers who amass what formal history cannot.” (From feedbooks.com)
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James most likely includes the descriptions on this page to
This story takes place during the Victorian era in 19th century England and Italy. Much of the story is about the lives of women and their place in society. Watch this video to get an idea of what life was like for women during this time. (This annotation contains a video)
Good readers often research an author before they begin to read a novel. Visit this website to read a short biography about this famous author. (This annotation contains a link)
Considering the context, what does the old man mean by "comfortable"?
Did you know that you can look up any word in the book or in the questions and answer choices? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Use this feature to look up the word "fastidious."
In 2-3 sentences, explain what you have learned about Lord Warburton so far.
These gentleman are discussing Mrs. Touchett's niece, Isabel, who is visiting England from America. We will soon meet the protagonist.
What does Mrs. Touchett's telegram say about Isabel's personality?
Authors often introduce the setting and characters in the beginning of a novel. Take note of these introductions as you read.
What does this sentence reveal about Isabel?
This timeless novel was made into a movie starring Nicole Kidman as Isabel. Watch the trailer to get an idea of what the story will be about. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on the way Isabel conducts herself during this conversation, what is revealed about her personality?
Based on her actions, what can we infer about Mrs. Touchett's character?
You will meet complex, interesting characters in this novel. Watch this video to learn how characters develop. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on the text, how did Isabel become educated?
This is what a classic Dutch house looks like. Picture Isabel in this setting as you continue to read this plot event. (This annotation contains an image)
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany. It is the most populous city in Tuscany. (This annotation contains an image)
What motivates Isabel to go with Mrs. Touchett to Florence?
The key motivation of women at this time was to find a suitable husband who was preferably rich and of a high social pedigree.
What do Mr. Ludlow's sentiments about Isabel reveal about men in the Victorian era?
In 2-3 sentences, explain how the characters in this novel show that they are gentry. Use evidence from the video and text.
Watch this video about the noble and gentry citizens of England then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
Isabel is the protagonist because
Good readers determine who the protagonist and antagonist are in a story. Watch this video to learn how to identify these characters. (This annotation contains a video)
The description "he arrived more dead than alive" is literal because
James uses an array of rich, descriptive language in this novel that is both literal and figurative. Watch this video to learn the distinction between the two. (This annotation contains a video)
Which line from the text shows that Isabel believes in a woman's independence?
This dialogue shows that a woman must have some sort of special skill or "special line" that sets her apart from other women.
What does this proclamation show about Isabel's personality?
Isabel is making her way through the house with a candlestick because at this time people did not have electricity in their homes. (This annotation contains an image)
Good readers notice the setting of a novel. A drawing room is a room in a house where visitors may be entertained. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on this conversation about "suffering," what is revealed about Ralph's attitude toward his life?
Why does Isabel regard Henrietta as a mentor?
Henrietta is very accomplished because at this time it was difficult for a woman to be taken seriously as a writer.
Is this comparison suggesting that Isabel will change as she gets older?
Which word encapsulates the spirit of this sentence?
Women of wealth were expected to engage in social events and entertain neighbors and friends in order to be perceived as a proper woman. A mistress is woman in a position of authority or control. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on this dialogue, what is revealed about Mrs. Touchett's attitude toward her life?
What is happening to Ralph as a result of having Isabel around?
Ralph is Isabel's cousin. Do you think these thoughts are inappropriate?
Rowing began as a method of transport during warfare. It eventually became a sport in English speaking countries and is often associated with highly educated and wealthy communities. (This annotation contains an image)
What does the phrase "sonorous mirth" reveal about Lord Warburton's personality?
What do you think is motivating Warburton to invite Isabel is Lockleigh?
A parish is usually a small administrative district typically having its own church and a priest or pastor. Being a priest was considered a novel profession during this time. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on the text and this image of Buddha, what is Warburton revealing about himself?
Examine this image of Buddha then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains an image)
Aristocracy is the highest class in certain societies, especially those holding hereditary titles or offices. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on this dialogue, what can we logically infer about Mr. Touchett?
Based on his sister's commentary, Warburton is
Use the define feature to learn what "impertinence" means.
This interaction introduces romance into this novel. Do you think Isabel will fall for Lord Warburton? Make a prediction and read to see if you are correct.
What does this narration reveal about Isabel's attitude toward Lord Warburton?
Why does Henrietta wish to visit Gardencourt?
This is what a train in the 19th century looked like. Picture Isabel and Ralph in this setting. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on the way Henrietta speaks to the other characters, we can tell that she is sassy. Good readers figure out characters by noticing what they say, do, and think as well as how others react to them.
What does the phrase "considerable stay" reveal about Henrietta's intentions?
What does comparing her work ethic to that of a car conductor's reveal about her attitude toward the rich?
Why is Henrietta acting so insensitively toward Ralph and his illness?
Is Henrietta hinting that she wants to marry Ralph, or is this a terrible misunderstanding?
In this novel, Ralph serves as a voice of reason. He is the most level-headed of all the characters and is a strong judge of character. Keep this in mind as you read.
Based on Henrietta's character, how does James view American women?
What does this line reveal about Isabel's attitude toward the English aristocracy?
This is an image of an American prairie. Is this the image you got in your head when you read this description? (This annotation contains an image)
Based on Mrs. Touchett's view of society, how does Henrietta feel about her?
Feudalism was the dominant social system in medieval Europe, in which the nobility held lands from the Crown in exchange for military service. Study this chart of the feudal system then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains an image)
In 2-3 sentences, explain the nature of Isabel and Goodwood's relationship.
We have just learned that Goodwood is coming to visit. How do you think Lord Warburton will respond to Goodwood's presence?
Isabel explores the idea of "personage" because
In 19th century England, it was highly desirable to marry a well-to-do gentry man. However, Isabel seems to reluctant to accept Warburton's courting.
The period before engagement was often short in the 19th century. People often married each other based on impressions rather than fully knowing a person. (This annotation contains an image)
What is Isabel's excuse for not taking his hand in marriage?
Watch this video about simile and metaphor then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
What does this simile reveal about Isabel's feelings?
Based on the video and Isabel's current emotional state, which type of conflict is she experiencing as a result of refusing Warburton?
Now that James and introduced us to the characters and the setting, conflicts will start to emerge in the story. Watch this video about the types of conflict that are present in literature. (This annotation contains a video)
What does this line reveal about Mr. Touchett's attitude toward Warburton's marriage proposal?
This narration shows that Isabel is pensive and intuitive. She marches to the beat of her own drummer regardless of what others think.
Based on the events that have occurred, how does James structure this book?
Good readers notice the structure of a text and how an author chooses to organize information. Watch this video to learn about structure. (This annotation contains a video)
Why is Henrietta concerned about Isabel being in England?
It is interesting to see the characters' opposing views of Isabel. How do the characters view Isabel differently?
Watch this short video about cotton factories to get an idea of Goodwood's line of work. (This annotation contains a video)
How do Henrietta's opinions further the idea that Isabel is the protagonist in this story?
Why does Henrietta want to take Isabel to London?
Isabel agrees to visit London, but does she know of Henrietta's motives?
James explores cultural perspectives in this novel. Watch this video to learn how authors leverage culture to create point of view. (This annotation contains a video)
Based mainly on Henrrietta's character, which cultural perspective does James want the reader to consider?
What do these advances reveal about Warburton's character?
By describing her physical attributes, James is inserting a sensual moment into the text.
James has introduced a new character to the story. Notice how Miss Molyneux shifts the events or incites new reactions and thoughts from the characters.
Which word captures Henrietta's demeanor during this conversation?
What does Mrs. Touchett mean by "relations"?
What does this dialogue reveal Mrs. Touchett's attitude toward Isabel at this point in the story?
In 2-3 sentences, explain what this sentences suggests about Isabel.
London is a vast city that has many beautiful attractions including West Minster Abbey and Big Ben. (This annotation contains an image)
A Baron is a member of the lowest order of the British nobility whose job involves managing property.
What do Henrietta's activities in England reveal about her personality?
Which word best describes Isabel's actions?
These words uttered by Ralph show that he feels upset that Isabel is not paying him more attention.
Which central idea does this line reveal about women in England?
There seems to be a sense of bitterness in these words. Ralph is speaking frankly with Isabel, but what is his intention?
In 2-3 sentences, explain how this sentence is contradictory to what we have learned about Isabel's personality so far.
Ralph is upset because he does not want Isabel to pity him for being sickly. This response shows the strength of his spirit.
The responses Isabel is getting from the men in her life shows that she is highly desirable. However, she doesn't want any of them.
Which word sets Goodwood's courtship apart from Warburton's courtship?
What new insight did we learn into Isabel's plans?
Notice the way James has Goodwood speak to Isabel. Think about how his words and ideas make this story romantic.
Through these descriptions, which mood does James paint in this scene?
Notice how Isabel often thinks about her response before she makes it.
Why do you think Isabel refuses such highly coveted men?
Doesn't it seem a bit torturous that she would take his hand after she refused him?
In 2-3 sentences, explain why Henrietta is so adamant about Isabel not marrying an Englishman. Use evidence from the text to support your assertion.
The only difference between Goodwood and Warburton is that Goodwood is American. Consider this as you figure out Henrietta's intentions.
What has happened to Mr. Touchett?
In the 19th century, a sitting-room was a room in a house or hotel in which people could sit down and relax. Today we call it a "living room." (This annotation contains an image)
Why did Ralph and Isabel travel to Gardencourt in "almost unbroken silence"?
Listen to this piano music from the 19th century to get an idea of what is being played in the house. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on the way Madame Merle announces herself, what have we learned about this new character?
The fact that Madame Merle is from Brooklyn reaffirms that Mrs. Touchett has an affinity for Americans.
The way Ralph is summing up Madame Merle shows that he is
Use the Define feature to leaner what "querulous" means.
Why is Mr. Touchett is discussing money with Ralph?
What does Mr. Touchett encourage Ralph to do to ensure he has a happy future?
Marriage between first cousins occurred in 19th century England. This information is an example of historical context. Notice other cultural norms as you read that may not still exist today.
What has Ralph suggested to his father that shows he is of strong character?
This idea is interesting. Even though Isabel fancies herself a smart, independent woman, she is completely oblivious to the state of her finances. This brings another layer of complexity to her character.
The phrase "key to her cabinet of jewels" most likely means
Knowing Isabel, why do you think she has an immediate attraction to Madame Merle?
Based on the introduction of characters such as Madame Merle, how does James view 19th century women?
Based on Madame Merle's activities of choice, we can tell she is an artistic person which was highly desired for a woman in the 19th century.
Based on the article and the text, Madame Merle is a strong example of an educated 19th century woman because
Visit this website and read the section titled "Educating Women," then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a link)
Why does Madame Merle introduce Gilbert Osmond into their conversation?
A "snuff-box" is decorative and serves as a form of packaging that is generally more than just functional, but also intended to be artistic. (This annotation contains an image)
How does James see Madame Merle fitting into Isabel's life?
Isabel's demeanor in this conversation shows that she wonders if her future will turn out like Madame Merle's.
Which central idea emerges as a result of this advice?
This statement uttered by Isabel shows that she is coming to new conclusions about her life as a result of befriending Madame Merle. She is finally considering where she stands financially.
What has happened to Mr. Touchett?
The phrase "subtle consequences" helps the reader understand that Mr. Touchett's death will be resolved with ease since his family is inheriting a great deal of money.
Why does James most likely have Mr. Touchett die at this point in the story?
Consider this sentence and think about if Isabel is progressing positively or negatively.
Isabel and Mrs. Touchett are now in Paris. Champs Elysees is a boulevard in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. It is famous for its length and architecture. (This annotation contains an image)
Which line from the text shows that Isabel may have a romance with Edward?
This line shows that Isabel has changed. She is growing out of her humble American roots and moving into an identity of riches and potential superficiality. Is she changing for the better?
Which central idea is blossoming as a result of Isabel's conversation with Henrietta?
This is what the coast of Italy looks like. Italy rests on the Mediterranean Sea. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is Isabel, "as free as the bird on the bough"?
What advice is present in this simile?
Good narration shows the reader what is going on in a characters mind. What is Isabel thinking if she is "following out the train..."?
Why does James choose to describe the setting at the beginning of the chapter?
You are learning about different countries in Europe through Isabel's explorations. Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is Gilbert Osmond at a convent speaking to nuns?
Osmond is clearly a sophisticated, well-rounded character because he is able to speak multiple languages. Notice other aspects of his character as you read.
Watch this video about cultural perspective then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on the cultural lens through which the story is told, explain how James depicts life in Europe. Use evidence from the text to support your answer.
Use the define feature to learn what "asceticism" means.
Based on the way Madame Merle and Osmond interact and speak to each other, we can tell they have a ______________ relationship.
What do you think Merle's intention is for introducing Gilbert to Isabel? Make a prediction and read to find out if your prediction is correct.
The phrase "to profit," most likely means
Which line from the text shows that Gilbert is not interested in ever getting married?
Is Gilbert being sarcastic or serious?
Why does James include these descriptive details about Gilbert at this point in the story?
To give cultural context, it was common in the 19th century for friends to arrange romantic introductions and to insight marriage between third-party friends.
Based on this narration, we can tell that Isabel made an impression on Gilbert. What do you think will happen between them?
Based on this dialogue and her intentions, which word best describes an aspect of Merle's character?
Isabel's perception of Madame Merle shows that she is a but naive when it comes to reading character. This character flaw will surely get her in trouble later in the story.
Why do you think Ralph is not fully disclosing his feelings about Madame Merle?
Watch this video again about point of view then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
From which point of view is this story being told?
What have we learned about Countess Gemini based on what she says and does and how other characters respond to her?
What is she doing? This is odd behavior.
Gilbert's advances show that he is becoming more and more interested in Isabel.
Which line from the text shows that Isabel's feelings toward Gilbert are causing her to act like a pious woman?
Why do you think the Countess uses the word "interviews"?
Watch this short video about women's fashion to understand the historical context of women's clothing. (This annotation contains a video)
How does Osmond's sister feel about him marrying Isabel?
What do you think is motivating Madame Merle to be such a strong advocate for Osmond?
In 2-3 sentences, explain the nature of the conversation Mrs. Touchett and Madame Merle are having.
James capitalized the word "him" to emphasize Mrs. Touchett's point.
Which word best describes the way Mrs. Touchett feels about Countess Gemini's presence?
James uses the chalkboard as a metaphor for what is going on between Mrs. Touchett and Countess Gemini. Notice other writer moves James employees to show the reader what is going on between the characters.
Where will Isabel and Ralph reunite with Henrietta?
James transitions out of the Gilbert situation and into a 'bird's eye' theoretical view of Europe to signal that we are moving into a new plot event.
There is a stark mood that is being established through the conversation between Merle and Osmond about Isabel. Watch this video then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
In 2-3 sentences, explain the mood James has established through Merle and Osmond's conversation.
Why is Isabel suprised?
Lord Warburton claims he had no idea Isabel would be in Rome. Do you believe him? This unexpected visit brings a sense of thrill, romance and excitement to the story.
The language here is beautiful and painful. It is so clear that there is a lustful tension between these two.
Based on the way Warburton behaves around Isabel, how does he feel about her?
What do these lines reveal about the characters' activities?
This is the first time Isabel has been face to face with two men who are wooing her at the same time. This might be a recipe for disaster.
This is what the opera house may have looked like. Picture the characters there. (This annotation contains an image)
How does Warburton feel about Isabel and Osmond being together?
Do you think Osmond is a good actor, or do you think he truly is falling in love with Isabel? Use evidence from the text to support your assertion.
Isabel continues to be a power figure in this novel. She has men "wrapped around her finger," and she has the power to hurt them.
In addition to her money, what does Osmond want to get from marrying Isabel?
Ralph is usually the character who has strong perspective and judgement about the other characters. He likes Osmond, so does that mean Osmond is not the villain he appears to be?
Even though they seem to toggle, how does Isabel feel about Osmond?
This sentence reconfirms the fact that Isabel wants to establish herself as an adventurous young woman.
Why is Isabel traveling back to Florence?
This sentence infuses romance into this interaction. How did you feel when you read this line?
Watch this clip of the movie adaptation of the famous 19th century novel "Pride and Prejudice," then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
In works of literature,19th century love affairs are often depicted as dramatic. How was Osmond's profession of love different from the proposal you viewed in the clip?
Watch this additional clip from the movie "Pride and Prejudice" then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
How is Elizabeth's attitude toward Mr. Darcy similar or different to Isabel's attitude toward Osmond? Use evidence from the clip and the text to support your assertion.
Why do you think Isabel kept her European love debacles from her sister?
Isabel is now back in America and is visiting her sister Lily.
Isabel is reflecting on Madame Merle's life because she still relates to her adventures and romances. She is looking for some lessons in her reflection.
Which central idea is developing as a result of Isabel's reflection and time spent in Europe?
How has the structure of time shifted in the story?
James most likely describes Goodwood as having a "slow American tone" to distinguish him from Osmond.
What character trait is Isabel utilizing in this conversation with Goodwood?
Goodwood clearly loves Isabel despite her feelings toward him because he continues to aggressively insert himself into her life.
Given the context, "knocked up" most likely means
Isabel usually remains poised when speaking with Goodwood. Her break down and passionate outburst shows that she is feeling stressed and unsupported in her decisions.
According to the text, why do the characters think Osmond is not suitable for Isabel to marry?
Mrs. Touchett has been a rock for Isabel throughout this story. She has been like a mother figure because she always keeps Isabel's welfare in mind.
It has been a while since Ralph has been discussed in such detail. Based on James' decision to elaborate on Ralph's character, what role do you think he will play in the coming chapters?
Considering this notion, why doesn't Isabel take Ralph's disapproval of her marriage too seriously?
A parasol is a light umbrella used to give shade from the sun. This was fashionable in the 19th century. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does James take the time to illustrate each one of Ralph's actions?
Why do you think James refers to Isabel as "the girl" in this tag?
Good readers notice character actions. Why do you think Isabel "reclined in her chair"?
This is an important moment between Isabel and Ralph. He has confessed that he loves her. Consider the impact this will have on their relationship.
Which central idea has a cropped up as a result of Isabel's conversation with Ralph?
What does this line reveal about Isabel's feelings toward Osmond?
Based on the way he has developed this character, how does James view men like Osmond?
Based on this proclamation, do you think Osmond is a static or dynamic character? Explain your thinking.
Watch this video about characterization then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on this line, why do you think Rosier has reappeared?
James has reintroduced Rosier into the story. As you read, consider Rosier's purpose in the narrative.
Time has passed. Isabel has married Osmond, and they live together in Rome. Pansy lives with them as well.
According to the text, why does Rosier want to speak to Pansy's parents?
Madame Merle has showed us that she cannot be trusted. Do you think Rosier's idea of speaking to her will help him achieve his goal?
What new information have we learned about Isabel?
What does this language reveal about Rosier's feelings toward Pansy?
This language is another example of historical context. These days, people rarely say, "How do you do" in greetings.
In 2-3 sentences, explain how Rosier's description of Pansy's attire compares to the dress described in the website about 19th century fashion.
Visit this website and read the first paragraph in the section titled "Women's Dress." This will help you answer the next question. (This annotation contains a link)
What does this exchange about Osmond reveal about Pansy's feelings toward her father?
The description of Pansy's expressions show that she is glad Rosier has professed his love, but she is not overly excited about it.
What is revealed about Merle and Osmond based on the way they treat Pansy?
Isabel is strikingly different from her old self. How has she changed?
The gusto in this reply shows that Rosier
This retort shows that Rosier is being bold with Osmond. He seems to stop at nothing in the pursuit of Pansy's hand in marriage.
Based on Isabel's demeanor, how has she changed over the course of the story?
Despite being turned down time and time again, Warburton appears to still have a soft spot for Isabel. He has always been respectful toward her unlike her husband.
What has happened to Ralph?
Based on Isabel's character development, do you think she is a static or dynamic character? Use evidence from the text to support your assertion.
Despite their cozy conversation, Ralph has isolated himself from Isabel since he told her he loves her. Do you think they can rekindle their friendship?
Based on the way Pansy talks to Rosier, what can we infer about her feelings?
Make a prediction about what will happen between Pansy and Rosier. Read to find out if your prediction is correct.
Watch this video about protagonists and antagonists in works of literature then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
Provide two examples that show Osmond has been the antagonist throughout this novel.
Which line from the text proves that Ralph's suspicions about Osmond have been confirmed?
Use the Define feature to learn what "invidious" means.
Christianity was the dominant religion in Europe in the 19th century. To be called a "good Christian" was a high compliment. (This annotation contains an image)
Which word best describes Ralph's behavior based on this line?
Based on the conversations between characters, it is clear that at this point in the novel the characters do not like Osmond, including Isabel. She no longer defends his character.
Based on Isabel's relationship with Pansy, what have we learned about her character?
What have we learned about Mrs. Touchett's relationship with Madame Merle?
Have you noticed that James has capitalized more words toward the end of the book? Why do you think he made this choice?
Consider what you know about Isabel's journey throughout this novel. Explain what Pansy symbolizes to Isabel.
Based on this description of Pansy, she serves as a symbol for Isabel. Watch this video to learn about symbolism. (This annotation contains a video)
This is a satisfying moment in the story. Isabel has finally revealed that she does not trust Merle and that she knows the true content of her character.
Based on Merle's history with Isabel, what theme about trust has emerged in this novel?
Doesn't it seem odd that Madame Merle knows Osmond better than Isabel? Where does this intimacy stem from?
Why does Isabel bring up Warburton in this conversation?
What does this behavior reveal about Isabel?
The way James describes Osmond shows his power as a controlling man. Notice these descriptions as you read.
What does this behavior reveal about the state of Isabel's marriage?
Why do you think Pansy is being so cryptic?
In 2-3 sentences, explain how Isabel is experiencing domestic abuse in her relationship. Use the website as an anchor for your response.
Visit this domestic abuse website and read the paragraph titled "Recognizing abuse is the first step to getting help." (This annotation contains a link)
How does Osmond feel about Lord Warburton marrying Pansy?
It is clear that Isabel is trying to be a good wife by adhering to Osmond's wishes. Is she making good decisions in her marriage?
James is foreshadowing that
As we near the end of the novel Isabel, the protagonist, is responding to the hardship in her life. Read to find out how she solves her problems and what she learns from them.
Based on this highlighted section of text, explain the "aha moment" Isabel is having. What does she finally realize?
Good readers notice what is called an "aha moment" in a story. Watch this video to learn about this reading skill then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
Consider what you have learned about Puritans from the annotation above. Why does James compare Isabel to Puritans?
The Puritans were a group of 16th and 17th century English Protestants who believed that the church was not pure enough in its religious beliefs. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on the descriptions of setting on this page, explain how the image of the Victorian ball is similar to or different from James' setting.
Study this image of a Victorian ball. Is this where you picture the characters to be? (This annotation contains an image)
Which "lover" is James referring to?
Given the context, "little maid" most likely means
James employs strong imagery in this story. Watch this video about imagery then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
James uses this imagery to paint a picture of
Why is Osmond "particular" about who Pansy marries?
This figure shows that Rosier is middle class and not rich which does not make him a viable candidate for marriage in Osmond's eyes. (This annotation contains an image)
The narration that James writes into the story is important because it shows character thoughts. Through the narration, we are able to figure out character intentions, feelings and motives.
Given the context, "comfort" most likely means
Countess Gemini has reemerged. What do you think her purpose is in this chapter of the story?
Why do you think James inserts Henrietta back into the story at this point in the text?
What have we learned about Warburton's motives for getting close to Pansy?
The Countess is present in this part of the story in order to be a "messenger." Read to find out what news she will deliver.
What do these lines reveal about Henrietta?
All of this talk about fear paints Isabel as a weak character. Typically protagonists prevail as strong heroes in the end of novels. Read to find out how Isabel responds to this view of her.
What has Henrietta done to help Isabel?
Even though Isabel is married, she will soon be surrounded by all the men that once loved her. What do you think will happen as a result?
What is Goodwood's purpose in Rome?
In the 19th century, people carried lanterns in order to see in the dark. This aspect of the setting is an example of historical context. (This annotation contains an image)
The end of the book is starting to mirror the events in the beginning of the book. Just like she did when she first arrived in Europe, Isabel is spending a great deal of time with Ralph.
What has Ralph told Isabel about Warburton?
Why does Ralph refer to Warburton marrying Pansy as a "queer relation?"
By "mask" James mean a face that does not show Isabel's true feelings.
Why does this advice seem like a contradiction to Isabel's morals?
Do you like Pansy? Do you think she is an interesting character?
In 2-3 sentences, explain how Pansy is similar to the way Isabel was when she first arrived in Europe. Use evidence from the text to support your assertion.
These lines show that Pansy has the same way of thinking as Isabel did when she was younger. Why do you think James paralleled character traits between these two women?
The height of conflict ensues for Isabel at this point in the story. Watch this video to learn about which type of conflict Isabel is experiencing. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on this conversation with Osmond, which type of conflict is Isabel experiencing?
Why does Isabel consider this situation a "complex operation"?
Why do you think James sometimes includes only the first, last or full name of a character? What affect does this have on the story?
What are Lord Warburton's intentions in this sentence?
This is one of the first times Osmond has demonstrated affection for his daughter. What do you think motivates him to act this way?
Visit this website and read the titles of each paragraph to learn about different types of controlling behavior. (This annotation contains a link)
Based on Osmond's actions and the types of controlling behavior you learned about in the annotation above, explain which type of abuse Osmond demonstrates toward Isabel. Explain your idea.
What does this secret reveal about Isabel's feelings toward Osmond?
Remember, Goodwood is American. Cotton was a booming industry that made many Americans rich in the 18th and 19th centuries. (This annotation contains an image)
Did you feel pity for Isabel when you read these words?
Based on the text, why doesn't Osmond like Henrietta?
What do these descriptions about Henrietta's travel companion reveal about Americans in Europe?
In the 19th century, chambermaids were responsible for taking care of household chores. (This annotation contains an image)
Watch this video about pacing then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
As compared to other parts of the story, how has James structured time toward the end of the novel?
Henrietta usually isn't a soft-hearted woman, but here she is showing affection and care toward her friend.
What connection does Ralph's health and its decline have with the structure of the story?
What does this dialogue reveal about Henrietta's character?
Is this statement literal or figurative?
In 2-3 sentences, explain how this dialogue shows Isabel has reached a breaking point.
This is a bold statement. Isabel is likely afraid of herself because she does not know who she is anymore and does not understand who she has become.
Given the context, "cultivated" most likely means
James focused the end of the novel on Osmond because he is the main character causing conflict with the protagonist. Notice other literary moves as you near the end of the novel.
It is weird that Osmond is speaking of marriage so happily considering he and Isabel are having so many problems.
Which word best explains Osmond's demeanor as he speaks to Goodwood?
Why is Goodwood's second love confession to Isabel an instance of dramatic irony?
It is interesting that Isabel has always been surrounded by men who love her, yet she has never truly experienced love. This irony make the story rich with suspense and angst. (This annotation contains a video)
What is Isabel finally realizing about Madame Merle?
Based on these realizations, Merle's role as an antagonist is solidified.
In a work of fiction, antagonists typically get punished for their bad behavior in one way or the other. As you read, notice any consequences Merle faces as a result of her cruel behavior toward Isabel.
Why do you think James had Isabel take a drive alone?
What does this description of her "impressively sad" face reveal about Merle's feelings?
Despite Merle's help to Osmond through the years, he treats her poorly just as he treats others. He seems to be able to control the women in his life.
Persian rugs are very expensive and typically only acquired by the rich. James includes this aspect of the setting to remind the reader of the character's opulence. (This annotation contains an image)
Even though these two have been in cahoots throughout the story, which type of conflict are they experiencing now?
Based on the video and the descriptions of the setting, why does James make Rome a prominent setting in this book?
James goes into lavish descriptions about what Rome looks like. Watch the first 30 seconds of this video to see what it is like to be on the streets of Rome. (This annotation contains a video)
Summarize what Rosier has done in hopes of securing his place in Pansy's life.
This is odd behavior. Why is Isabel still keeping Rosier and Pansy apart even though she does not agree with her husband's plan?
What do Rosier's romantic actions reveal about his personality?
This is shocking news. Osmond is sending Pansy back to the convent. (This annotation contains an image)
A "folio volume" is an expensive set of books that have been artfully bound. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does James have Ralph die at this point in the story?
James capitalizes "we" twice to show that Osmond is making a strong point.
Which line from the text shows that Osmond is still able to actively control Isabel?
Which role does the Countess serve in this novel?
According to the site you perused earlier about domestic abuse, withholding money is another way to control your spouse.
Summarize the startling secret the Countess has revealed to Isabel.
This is simply shocking. Do you think Merle and Osmond engaged in extra marital affairs while he was married to Isabel?
What do these lines reveal about Osmond and Merle's thinking?
"I don't care a fig" is a figurative way of saying "I couldn't care less."
Why didn't Merle ever marry Osmond even though they had a child together?
Isabel will now travel to England to see Ralph despite Osmond's opposition. After receiving this shocking news, she finally feels stable enough to leave.
"Mother" is the professional name for a woman serving as a nun. Isabel has decided to visit Pansy at the convent before she travels to England to be with Ralph.
Why is Merle acting awkward in Isabel's company?
This is a long corrior; similar to the ones in the description. Picture Isabel walking through this setting. (This annotation contains an image)
According to the text, why is Pansy "pale"?
An enamel is an expensive ornament made from glass or metallic surfaces. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Pansy feel frightened in this exchange?
Isabel has discovered that it was Ralph, not Merle who helped her acquire her fortune upon her Uncle's death.
Which consequence is Merle facing as a result of her actions?
Why does James describe a new setting?
This is a reference to the English Channel which is a body of water that people in Europe use for transportation. (This annotation contains an image)
Why do you think James has reunited Isabel with Henrietta?
What does Henrietta's demeanor reveal about her current emotional state?
What news has Isabel learned about Henrietta's future?
Once again, James has mirrored the end of the story with the beginning. Isabel ends her journey at Gardencourt where she began her trip to Europe.
Which theme develops as Isabel reminisces about her choices at Gardencourt?
This line reiterates that Isabel has mixed feelings about marriage. This sentiment has not changed despite her experiences in Europe.
By placing Isabel at Ralph's side, what choice has James made in the mood structure of the story?
Ralph always has comforting or wise words to say to Isabel. Why is he speechless at this point in the story?
This long conversation solidifies Ralph as the most important person in Isabel's life. He is a symbol of growth and love. Isabel can see that now more clearly than ever.
Why has Ralph found "great difficulty in speaking"?
Why have all of the main characters gathered together once again?
James has infused memories into the text as a way to show that Ralph has died and the characters are respectfully saying goodbye to him.
What new information have we learned about Lord Warburton?
We can logically conclude that Lord Warburton has been one of the most emotionally stable characters throughout this story.
Which word best describes Isabel's emotions in tho exchange with Goodwood?
How did you feel when you read this? The interaction between Goodwood and Isabel is meant to give the reader a sense of satisfaction since Isabel is finally experiencing some relief and affection from a man.
Consider the themes James has presented in this novel. Did Isabel learn the valuable lessons she should have learned through these experiences?
Which line from the text shows that Isabel may make the mistake of returning to Osmond and resuming her marriage?