The Portrait of a Lady


By Henry James

cover image of The Portrait of a Lady

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Isabel Archer, a 19-year-old woman from America, is chaperoned to England by her aunt, Mrs. Touchett, after the death of Isabel's parents. Isabel wants to make an articulate use of her independence and become more able to recognize the worthwhile choices established before her. She is resolute to ward off the temptations of an easy well-worn domestic path. In England she makes the acquaintance of two men who offer marriage. She justifies her refusals because she aprehends their irresistable nature and will stubbornly not settle for it. At last she meets Gilbert Osmond who is superficially pleasing and refined but ultimately cruel and sadistic. His only goal is her subjugation and the manipulation of her desires. He does not want her to think for herself or speak out of turn. He is, however, utterly charming and her decision is made to marry Osmond. Only after the ceremony does she see the severity of this covetous union. Instead of walking away from an intolerable situation she gradually and completely understands the value of her predicament. She struggles to achieve genuine independence by an acceptance of true choice, not choice as reaction, but an authentic decision made with all the facts at hand. Please Note: This book is easy to read in true text, not scanned images that can sometimes be difficult to decipher. The Microsoft eBook has a contents page linked to the chapter headings for easy navigation. The Adobe eBook has bookmarks at chapter headings and is printable up to two full copies per year. Both versions are text searchable.

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The Portrait of a Lady