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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Analysis

Literary Devices in The Portrait of a Lady

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The living spaces we encounter in Portrait shine a significant light upon their inhabitants. Certain characters and relationships are defined by the buildings that house them; for example, Mr. Touc...

Setting

The novel opens and closes at Gardencourt, the Touchett family’s gracious English country estate. This place is particularly significant to our characters, and to our understanding of the nov...

Narrator Point of View

The Portrait of a Lady is narrated in the third person by an unidentified external voice – the narrator is not a character, nor is he necessarily identified with James himself. The novel̵...

Genre

We don’t know about you, but, when we think "Coming-of-Age," Henry James isn’t exactly the first thing that springs to mind – a few other things usually pop up first, like, say, T...

Tone

The narrator’s attitude manages to be both distanced and interested in Isabel and her predicament. We get the feeling that the mysterious narrative voice really is sympathetic towards our her...

Writing Style

The writing of Henry James is famously descriptive, and this novel is no exception to the rule. People, places, relationships, feelings – basically, everything gets the patented Henry James S...

What’s Up With the Title?

What constitutes a "portrait," anyway? Is it just a likeness? A specific interpretation? An image? Is it external or internal, physical or psychological? When an artist paints a portrait, the diffi...

What’s Up With the Ending?

Whew – if this isn’t intense, we don’t know what is. Isabel, who was never exactly the most predictable heroine to begin with, throws us one last curveball. After an electrifying,...

Plot Analysis

Isabel arrives at Gardencourt, fresh off the boat from America (Chapter One)Isabel’s first few months in England set us up for her European adventures beyond the Channel; we get to know more...

Booker’s Seven Basic Plots Analysis: Rags to Riches

Mrs. Touchett finds Isabel alone in her family home in Albany.While Isabel is certainly far from poor and wretched, she is certainly un-wealthy and unfulfilled. She has a sense of things yet to com...

Three Act Plot Analysis

After Isabel Archer makes her appearance in England, Ralph convinces Mr. Touchett to leave the newly discovered cousin a large inheritance.Isabel marries Osmond after Madame Merle introduces them....

Trivia

The character of Isabel Archer may have been based partially on Isabella Stewart Gardner, a wealthy art collector and friend of Henry James. Gardner was famous in Boston for her style, wealth, and...

Steaminess Rating

Well, sex certainly happens in this novel, but it’s not something we’re in the know about. We know that Madame Merle and Osmond carried on an adulterous affair for some time, but, by th...

Allusions

Robert Browning (4.5)George Eliot (4.5)William Shakespeare, The Tempest (characters Ariel and Caliban) (13.14Charles Dickens (13.24)Samuel Johnson (13.24)Oliver Goldsmith (13.24)Joseph Addison (13....
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