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The Portrait of a Lady

The Portrait of a Lady

by Henry James

Isabel as a ship

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Ralph makes use of this image twice. First, he convinces his father to "put a little wind in her sails" (18.25) by bequeathing her a fortune. Later, he claims that Isabel is on an expedition to explore life, and will "be steaming away again" (26.2) once she’s done observing Osmond. This metaphor expresses Ralph’s admiration for his cousin’s sense of adventure and unbounded possibility.

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