The Portrait of a Lady
The Portrait of a Lady
by Henry James
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Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The living spaces we encounter in Portrait shine a significant light upon their inhabitants. Certain characters and relationships are defined by the buildings that house them; for example, Mr. Touchett’s love of Gardencourt symbolizes his peaceful escape from the world, while Lockleigh’s moated splendors represent Lord Warburton’s simultaneous pride and shame in his noble heritage. Osmond’s original hilltop home is, like the man himself, removed from society, dark, beautifully cultivated, and fascinatingly menacing, while the castle in Rome he shares with Isabel is fortress-like and forbidding, like his attitude towards their relationship.

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