The Portrait of a Lady
Contrasting Regions Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
Ralph spent several terms at an American school and took a degree at an American university, after which, as he struck his father on his return as even redundantly native, he was placed for some three years in residence at Oxford. Oxford swallowed up Harvard, and Ralph became at last English enough. His outward conformity to the manners that surrounded him was none the less the mask of a mind that greatly enjoyed its independence, on which nothing long imposed itself, and which, naturally inclined to adventure and irony, indulged in a boundless liberty of appreciation. (5.2)
Ralph is an odd creature; he was raised to be both English and American, and, as a result, is really neither.
Isabel amused him more than she suspected – the effect she produced upon people was often different from what she supposed – and he frequently gave himself the pleasure of making her chatter. It was by this term that he qualified her conversation, which had much of the "point" observable in that of the young ladies of her country, to whom the ear of the world is more directly presented than to their sisters in other lands. Like the mass of American girls Isabel had been encouraged to express herself; her remarks had been attended to; she had been expected to have emotions and opinions. (6.3)
Again, the question of the American young lady arises. One imagines, from Mr. Touchett’s opinions, that they are quite different – and more independent on the whole – than the young women of Europe.
"Gracious," Isabel exclaimed; "how many classes have they? About fifty, I suppose."
"Well, I don't know that I ever counted them. I never took much notice of the classes. That's the advantage of being an American here; you don't belong to any class." (6.4)
Finally, the question of the role of the American expatriate arises. Mr. Touchett is pleased that they have no real social role or class, while other characters, we imagine, are less pleased with this.