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The Portrait of a Lady

The Portrait of a Lady

by Henry James

Identity Quotes Page 1

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

"Well, I don't like originals; I like translations," Mr. Ludlow had more than once replied. "Isabel's written in a foreign tongue. I can't make her out. She ought to marry an Armenian or a Portuguese." (4.2)

Isabel’s more prosaic brother-in-law simply can’t comprehend her. Both he and Lily love Isabel, but are puzzled by her, as is much of the world.

Quote #2

Her life should always be in harmony with the most pleasing impression she should produce; she would be what she appeared, and she would appear what she was. Sometimes she went so far as to wish that she might find herself some day in a difficult position, so that she should have the pleasure of being as heroic as the occasion demanded. (6.1)

Isabel has high hopes for her future, and holds herself to very high standards – she wants to be an exceptional human being, even if that means dealing with troublesome times (during which she hopes to show courage under fire).

Quote #3

He gave a melancholy sigh and stood looking at her a moment, with his hands behind him, giving short nervous shakes to his hunting-crop. "Do you know I'm very much afraid of it – of that remarkable mind of yours?"

Our heroine's biographer can scarcely tell why, but the question made her start and brought a conscious blush to her cheek. She returned his look a moment, and then with a note in her voice that might almost have appealed to his compassion, "So am I, my lord!" she oddly exclaimed. (12.19-20)

Everyone is afraid of Isabel’s remarkable mind – her originality, independence, and determination make her an intimidating force to be reckoned with, even to herself.

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