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The Portrait of a Lady

The Portrait of a Lady

by Henry James

The Portrait of a Lady Chapter 27 Summary

  • Isabel, Ralph, Henrietta, and Mr. Bantling go to Rome, which delights Isabel. She loves the city’s rich sense of history.
  • Henrietta is not that impressed with Rome, thinking that every Roman characteristic is inferior to similar ones in America. This is typical hilarious Henrietta – in fact, everything newer is modeled on the old, not vice versa.
  • Ralph goes to look at an excavation site, and Isabel is glad to be alone for a little bit.
  • However, she’s not alone for long – shockingly (and awkwardly), Lord Warburton shows up. They’re both surprised. So are we – where the heck did he come from?
  • They chat somewhat uncomfortably, catching up on recent happenings.
  • Lord Warburton confesses that he has written Isabel several letters, but hasn’t sent any of them.
  • Lord Warburton declares that he still loves Isabel, despite his efforts to move on and love someone else. Isabel quietly delights in this news, since, as she says, "there is no better man than he" (27.6), but she’s still glad that she turned him down.
  • Lord Warburton will be staying in Rome for a couple more weeks, just as Isabel will.
  • Lord Warburton promises that he will control his feelings for her, although it is obviously tough for him.
  • Ralph, Henrietta, and Mr. Bantling return and are surprised to find Lord Warburton with Isabel.
  • Henrietta is shocked that Mr. Bantling and Lord Warburton already know each other. She seems to think that she knows everything about her travel companion.
  • Ralph and Mr. Bantling go out the next day. Lord Warburton visits the two ladies in the hotel. He seems to want to prove that he and Isabel can be friends.
  • Isabel still believes that Lord Warburton is the best kind of man, superior in every way… and, yet, she still has no romantic feelings for him.
  • On Sunday, the group goes to Saint Peter’s church, where they meet again with Lord Warburton.
  • Once more, Henrietta ridiculously compares the architecture with American standards.
  • Isabel is with Lord Warburton when she becomes aware of Gilbert Osmond standing behind her (creepy…).
  • Osmond makes it clear that he is there only to see Isabel.
  • Lord Warburton sees the two of them talking.
  • Isabel introduces Osmond and Lord Warburton to each other. Can you say "awkward?"
  • Lord Warburton asks Ralph about Osmond. Ralph says that they must not try to prevent Isabel and Osmond’s union, if they want any hope of keeping them apart. Ralph thinks that Isabel will go against their wishes in order to prove her freedom.
  • Ralph tells Lord Warburton that neither of them can give Isabel what she wants, implying that, despite all his insistence to the contrary, he is in fact in love with his cousin.
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