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The Portrait of a Lady

The Portrait of a Lady


by Henry James

Lilian Ludlow, née Archer

Character Analysis

Lillian, the eldest of the three Archer sisters, is commonly perceived to be the "sensible" one – not a very complimentary title, considering that Edith is the beautiful one and Isabel the intellectual one of the family. However, Lilian’s sensibility helped her settle into a conventional, predictable, and very happy life. She’s married to Edmund Ludlow, a good-humored and successful young man, has a couple of kids, and feels totally content with her domestic arrangement in New York. We get the feeling that Lilian isn’t terribly interesting, but is a genuinely nice, stand-up lady who just wants the best for everyone.