The Portrait of a Lady
The Portrait of a Lady
by Henry James
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Gardens, flowers, landscapes

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Any mention of landscapes, parks, gardens, and nature in general should be regarded carefully here – James uses these images to suggest the ways in which people, like land, can be cultivated and shaped. Characters are often associated with one kind of landscape or another – while Isabel initially cannot be contained by the genteel, civilized lawn of Gardencourt, or by the moat that surrounds Lockleigh, she is eventually tamed and cut down in a walled garden by Osmond. Osmond is the ultimate gardener – Pansy, after all, is so cultivated and removed from nature that Mrs. Touchett thinks of her as "uncanny"(26.1). Appropriately her suitor, Edward Rosier, is similarly a kind of sheltered, hothouse flower.

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