Date of Award
Master of Arts (M.A.)
Clifford J. Hand
First Committee Member
Second Committee Member
Lawrence J. Osborne
The opening scene of The Portrait of a Lady takes place upon the broad, sunlit lawns of Gardencourt. Yet, even in this expansive setting, the most essential character in the novel, the protagonist, is, curiously, no more than a narrow, shadowy speculation symbolized by a few odd words found in a telegram of dubious value. The only worth of these words comes in the amount of curiosity they can arouse in the other characters and in the reader. For it appears that, with this slow but significantly unusual means of introducing Isabel, the author intends her for more than a mere foil in a worldly triangle.
Henry James does not squander his characters and while the plot of this novel, for example, suggests a debt to the traditional sentimental novel, the characters transcend such a strict formula and take on great depth and mass. Thus, as the reader progresses through the tale, he is continually surprised, and gratified, to discover that the characters emerge as real personalities, each possessing, his own set of ideas, sensibilities, an visions. When these personalities are brought together there can be no chance for a sentimental novel.
Alderson, Thomas Raymond. (1964). A critical analysis of the characters of Isabel and Madame Merle and their conflict in Henry James's The Portrait of a Lady. University of the Pacific, Thesis. https://scholarlycommons.pacific.edu/uop_etds/1573
No Known Copyright. URI: http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/NKC/1.0/
The organization that has made the Item available reasonably believes that the Item is not restricted by copyright or related rights, but a conclusive determination could not be made. Please refer to the organization that has made the Item available for more information. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use.