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The Portrait of a Lady

The Portrait of a Lady

by Henry James

Lies and Deceit Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #7

He was not changed; he had not disguised himself, during the year of his courtship, any more than she. But she had seen only half his nature then, as one saw the disk of the moon when it was partly masked by the shadow of the earth. She saw the full moon now--she saw the whole man. She had kept still, as it were, so that he should have a free field, and yet in spite of this she had mistaken a part for the whole. (42.2)

Isabel realizes that Osmond wasn’t as deceptive as he could have been – he only showed her select parts of his personality, and she believed it to be everything. She did the same thing to him… they actually deceived each other into falling in love.

Quote #8

She could live it over again, the incredulous terror with which she had taken the measure of her dwelling. Between those four walls she had lived ever since; they were to surround her for the rest of her life. It was the house of darkness, the house of dumbness, the house of suffocation. Osmond’s beautiful mind gave it neither light nor air; Osmond’s beautiful mind indeed seemed to peep down from a small high window and mock at her. Of course it had not been physical suffering; for physical suffering there might have been a remedy. She could come and go; she had her liberty; her husband was perfectly polite. He took himself so seriously; it was something appalling. Under all his culture, his cleverness, his amenity, under his good-nature, his facility, his knowledge of life, his egotism lay hidden like a serpent in a bank of flowers. (42.5)

Though Osmond is perfectly civil on the outside, his self-centered, self-glorifying mental presence lurks on the inside. This is what emerged after their marriage, and it controls Isabel now.

Quote #9

"Well," said Caspar Goodwood simply, "she thinks I'm watching her."

"Watching her?"

"Trying to make out if she's happy."

"That's easy to make out," said Ralph. "She's the most visibly happy woman I know."

"Exactly so; I'm satisfied," Goodwood answered dryly. For all his dryness, however, he had more to say. "I've been watching her; I was an old friend and it seemed to me I had the right. She pretends to be happy; that was what she undertook to be; and I thought I should like to see for myself what it amounts to. I've seen," he continued with a harsh ring in his voice, "and I don't want to see any more. I'm now quite ready to go." (48.5)

Isabel herself has become something of a master deceiver in the years since her marriage, and she actively tries to fool both Caspar and Ralph into thinking that she is more than "visibly happy."

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