The Portrait of a Lady
by Henry James
The Portrait of a Lady Men and Masculinity Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"For me, in his place, I could be as solemn as a statue of Buddha. He occupies a position that appeals to my imagination. Great responsibilities, great opportunities, great consideration, great wealth, great power, a natural share in the public affairs of a great country. But he's all in a muddle about himself, his position, his power, and indeed about everything in the world. He's the victim of a critical age; he has ceased to believe in himself and he doesn't know what to believe in. When I attempt to tell him (because if I were he I know very well what I should believe in) he calls me a pampered bigot. I believe he seriously thinks me an awful Philistine; he says I don't understand my time. I understand it certainly better than he, who can neither abolish himself as a nuisance nor maintain himself as an institution." (8.2)
The great privilege we immediately see in Lord Warburton is apparently too great for comfort – he lives in a time in which men of his class, rank, and talents are being put to question by their own consciences.
Miss Archer had neither a fortune nor the sort of beauty that justifies a man to the multitude, and he calculated that he had spent about twenty-six hours in her company. He had summed up all this – the perversity of the impulse, which had declined to avail itself of the most liberal opportunities to subside, and the judgment of mankind, as exemplified particularly in the more quickly-judging half of it: he had looked these things well in the face and then had dismissed them from his thoughts. He cared no more for them than for the rosebud in his buttonhole. It is the good fortune of a man who for the greater part of a lifetime has abstained without effort from making himself disagreeable to his friends, that when the need comes for such a course it is not discredited by irritating associations. (12.4)
Although it seems rash for Lord Warburton to propose to Isabel so soon, he relies upon his stellar reputation as a reasonable guy to see him through it.
He showed his appetites and designs too simply and artlessly; when one was alone with him he talked too much about the same subject, and when other people were present he talked too little about anything. And yet he was of supremely strong, clean make--which was so much: she saw the different fitted parts of him as she had seen, in museums and portraits, the different fitted parts of armoured warriors – in plates of steel handsomely inlaid with gold. (13.10)
Caspar Goodwood, despite his modern American persona, has the timeless air of a chivalrous knight, suggesting that certain kinds of masculinity will endure forever.