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The Portrait of a Lady
by Henry James
The Portrait of a Lady Chapter 29 Summary
Osmond has been strangely pleasant the whole time while he’s in Isabel’s company. He is so pleased to be around Isabel that he writes a sonnet called "Rome Revisited," and shares it with her. Osmond has always wanted someone like Isabel to bring out the best in him, and show it to the world – apparently, his selfishness just knows no bounds. Mrs. Touchett sends a telegram asking Isabel to return to Florence and go to Bellaggio with her, but only if Isabel is willing to leave Rome. Isabel replies that she would very much like to go with her aunt. When Osmond finds out, he lets Isabel know that they probably won’t see each other again for months. While Henrietta is making friends with Americans in the hotel and Ralph is making arrangements for the trip to Florence, Isabel sits alone in the colorfully decorated room. Osmond calls on her. Isabel assumes that he must think her ridiculous for wanting to travel the world. Osmond denies such thoughts, saying that it’s right for her to use her means to travel. Osmond says he’ll be waiting for her when she’s done traveling and tired. The implication is that she’ll be vulnerable then – and he’ll be ready to strike. Isabel is glad to go. She figures that, if this happy time with Osmond is the last time she’ll spend with him, it’s best to part well. Osmond professes his love for Isabel. This is familiar territory… or, at least, it should be. However, something’s different this time. Isabel feels something in her switch, and tears spring to her eyes. Could this be love? Osmond confesses that he has little to offer Isabel, but figures there’s no harm in letting her know of his love. Isabel tells him the same thing she told Lord Warburton: that she barely knows him. Osmond says that that could easily be changed. Isabel calls his bluff, saying that he is not easy to figure out at all. Isabel asks him to go. Osmond tells Isabel that no matter what she does, he will still love her. Before Osmond leaves, he asks Isabel to promise to visit Pansy before she leaves Florence. Isabel agrees. Isabel sits alone with her thoughts until the others return. The narrator writes that Isabel’s imagination has shifted, and that there is some new, mysterious obstacle in its way.
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