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The Portrait of a Lady

The Portrait of a Lady

  

by Henry James

Current Events & Pop Culture

Available to teachers only as part of the The Portrait of a Lady Teacher Pass


The Portrait of a Lady Teacher Pass includes:

  • Assignments & Activities
  • Reading Quizzes
  • Current Events & Pop Culture articles
  • Discussion & Essay Questions
  • Challenges & Opportunities
  • Related Readings in Literature & History

Sample of Current Events & Pop Culture


The Portrait of a Lady film trailer

One of the best ways to get your students interested in a classic novel is to tell them about the film version, and luckily, such a version of The Portrait of a Lady exists: the 1996 Jane Campion film starring Nicole Kidman as Isabel Archer, John Malkovich as Gilbert Osmond, and Barbara Hershey as Madame Merle. Unlike Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility, which was universally praised, or the '95 update of The Scarlet Letter with Demi Moore, which was embarrassingly bad, this version of The Portrait of the Lady received mixed reactions. Some film critics disliked Jane Campion's dreamy directorial style, thinking it wasn't true to the tone of the story, and many objected to a scene where Isabel imagines all of her suitors seducing her at once. (Yes. That happened.) On the other hand, Barbara Hershey's performance as Madame Merle received nothing but acclaim, and she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of our favorite schemer. Not everyone agrees that the film adaptation of The Portrait of a Lady was a successful one, but it's definitely an interesting one, and will definitely spark some lively debate among your students. Show them the trailer and get your hands on the film and see what they have to say about this piece.