The Portrait of a Lady By Henry James Summary and Analysis Chapters 47-48

Summary

Henrietta arrives in Rome and Isabel must get her a room in a hotel because Osmond objects to Henrietta so strongly. But at last Isabel can admit to someone how miserable she is. Henrietta wants Isabel to leave Osmond, but Isabel explains that she "can't publish" her mistake before the entire world.

Caspar Goodwood becomes a frequent visitor at Isabel's house. She asks him once if he would also visit Ralph, who was alone and ill. She explains that she can't go to him as often as she would like to. Henrietta also visits Ralph frequently. When he decides that he will return to England, Henrietta announces to him that she will accompany him in order to look after him. Meanwhile, Isabel has asked Caspar Goodwood if he would also travel with Ralph.

Before leaving, Henrietta again asks Isabel to leave Osmond before her "character gets spoiled." Isabel assures Henrietta that she won't change.

In bidding Ralph good-bye, Isabel tells him that if he should send for her she will come. He suggests that Osmond would not like that, and Isabel tells him that she would come anyway.

When Caspar comes to bid Isabel good-bye, he draws her apart from the company and tells her again how deeply he still loves her. He wonders whether he might pity her somewhat. She tells him that he can give a thought to it every once in a while.

Analysis

The arrival of her old friend, Henrietta, allows Isabel to openly express her thoughts about her mistake. But we see here that Isabel has too much pride to announce to the world that she has made a mistake, thus preparing us again for Isabel's later return to her husband in spite of her dislike of him. Henrietta's concern that Isabel's character will get spoiled is the main point of the novel at this point. Osmond has been attempting to change Isabel in any way that he can. The opposition between them comes from the fact that Isabel will not change.

In terms of plot, James is shifting his characters away from Rome. It will be necessary to have Ralph return to England so that Isabel will have to face the decision of opposing her husband's views by traveling to England. Ralph knows, too, that if he asks Isabel to come, it will mean that she will have to do so without her husband's consent.

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