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Quotes

Quote #1

"But for me there are only two classes: the people I trust and the people I don't. Of those two, my dear Isabel, you belong to the first." (6.4)

Wise Mr. Touchett knows that the world is divided between honest people and deceivers; Isabel doesn’t yet understand how great this compliment is.

Quote #2

"Yes, that's what you enjoy most; I can't make out what you're up to," said Lord Warburton. "You strike me as having mysterious purposes – vast designs." (9.10)

Even early on, it seems that Isabel is capable of deceit. What Lord Warburton doesn’t see is that her purposes are mysterious even to her.

Quote #3

"It’s very true; there are many more iron pots certainly than porcelain. But you may depend on it that every one bears some mark; even the hardest iron pots have a little bruise, a little hole somewhere. I flatter myself that I’m rather stout, but if I must tell you the truth I’ve been shockingly chipped and cracked. I do very well for service yet, because I’ve been cleverly mended; and I try to remain in the cupboard – the quiet, dusky cupboard where there’s an odour of stale spices – as much as I can. But when I’ve to come out and into a strong light – then, my dear, I’m a horror!" (19.6)

Madame Merle admits that she’s been around the block a few times, and that she’s emerged from her troubles battered, but not broken. She hides her flaws well, but we’re nervous about what might be hiding beneath her mended surface. We begin to wonder what she’s really like.

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