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The Portrait of a Lady

The Portrait of a Lady


by Henry James

Caspar Goodwood Timeline and Summary

  • For about a year, Boston-based Caspar Goodwood has wooed Isabel via post. We hope he writes really darned good love letters. She admits that he is probably the most interesting man she has ever met.
  • Caspar travels from NYC to Albany to visit Isabel. She’s reluctant to meet him, and, although he seems resolved to speak his mind that night, he leaves disappointed.
  • We learn more about Caspar Goodwood: he studied at Harvard College, where he was known as a gymnast and rower. The son of a cotton-mill owner, Caspar has a skill for mechanics and patented a new cotton-spinning technique. He is also known to be a good "manager of men."
  • Caspar Goodwood turns down Ralph’s invitation to visit Gardencourt.
  • Caspar goes to Isabel while she’s in London and asks why she never wrote him back.
  • Caspar professes his love for Isabel again, claiming that he wants to marry her only to liberate her.
  • Caspar promises to leave her alone for two years, but is afraid that she’ll marry someone else.
  • We don’t see it, but Caspar receives a letter from Isabel telling of her engagement to Osmond.
  • Panicked, Caspar high-tails it across the Atlantic to see Isabel before she gets married.
  • Years pass, but Caspar’s still in love with Isabel.
  • Caspar runs into Henrietta at the Uffizi and reluctantly agrees to travel with her to Rome.
  • Caspar visits the Osmonds for several of their Thursday night parties, and Osmond, quirkiness incarnate, takes a liking to his wife’s suitor.
  • Caspar agrees to travel with Ralph and see to his care. He knows that Isabel is just getting rid of him.
  • On the eve of his departure for England with Ralph and Henrietta, Caspar is irked by Osmond’s buffoonish high spirits – the older man keeps boasting about how well he and Isabel get along, which is obviously untrue.
  • Caspar professes his love for Isabel again, and finally gets some comfort (if you can call it that) in the fact that he can pity her.
  • Caspar attends Ralph’s funeral.
  • Before his death, Ralph charges Caspar with Isabel’s happiness. Caspar attempts one last, desperate time to make Isabel come away with him and finally find happiness.
  • Caspar kisses Isabel, and she runs away.
  • Caspar looks for Isabel at Henrietta’s house in London, but it’s too late – she’s gone back to Rome and to her life of misery. Henrietta tries to comfort him, but it’s no use.