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The Portrait of a Lady

The Portrait of a Lady


by Henry James

The Portrait of a Lady Chapter 16 Summary

  • Isabel is in desperate need of some alone time – a lot has happened in her world recently.
  • Unexpectedly, Caspar Goodwood arrives. Henrietta apparently wrote to him and let him know that Isabel would be alone that evening. Kind of sneaky, sure; but, hey – that’s Henrietta.
  • Caspar Goodwood asks Isabel why she never wrote him back. She says that her silence was intentional. Oh, snap.
  • Isabel demands that Caspar stay away from her — for at least two years.
  • Caspar worries that she will marry someone else. Isabel insists that she doesn’t want to get married at all.
  • Isabel tells Caspar that she has turned down an English nobleman, and admits that she sort of thought of Caspar when she did it, which gives Caspar some consolation.
  • Caspar admits that he was invited to Gardencourt by way of Henrietta, which adds yet another tick on the old "Why, Henrietta, Why?" list.
  • Caspar said that he declined because it didn’t seem like the invitation was coming from Isabel. Isabel thanks him for this propriety.
  • Isabel shudders at the thought of Caspar and Lord Warburton possibly meeting – she would have felt bad for Lord Warburton.
  • Isabel says that she plans to stay in Europe for a while. She says that the world is small, but Caspar claims that it is too big. He feels the distance between the two of them.
  • Isabel declares, once again, that her personal freedom is very important to her.
  • Caspar insists that he wants to marry her in order to liberate her and, supposedly, give her more opportunities.
  • Isabel insists that Caspar keeps his distance from her. Caspar jokes that she’s going to do something criminal. Isabel doesn’t deny it; she says she would like the freedom to do anything, even something atrocious.
  • Caspar promises to reenter her life after two years.
  • Caspar does not leave until Isabel leaves the room.
  • Isabel retreats and collapses at the foot of her bed.

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