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The Portrait of a Lady

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)

Quote #7

"I don't know what you're trying to fasten upon me, for I'm not in the least an adventurous spirit. Women are not like men."

Ralph slowly rose from his seat and they walked together to the gate of the square. "No," he said; "women rarely boast of their courage. Men do so with a certain frequency."

"Men have it to boast of!"

"Women have it too. You've a great deal." (15.25-26)

Ralph notes aptly that women and men aren’t actually that different when it comes to courage – men are just expected to have it, and expect themselves to have it, while women are the opposite.

Quote #8

"No – I don't; I shall try to console myself with that. But there are a certain number of very dazzling men in the world, no doubt; and if there were only one it would be enough. The most dazzling of all will make straight for you. You'll be sure to take no one who isn't dazzling."

"If you mean by dazzling brilliantly clever," Isabel said – "and I can't imagine what else you mean – I don't need the aid of a clever man to teach me how to live. I can find it out for myself."

"Find out how to live alone? I wish that, when you have, you'd teach me!" (16.12)

Isabel asserts her belief that she doesn’t need any man to teach her how to live. Caspar Goodwood admits his own weakness, saying that he can’t live without her, although he wishes that he could.

Quote #9

"You ought to see a great many men," Madame Merle remarked; "you ought to see as many as possible, so as to get used to them."

"Used to them?" Isabel repeated with that solemn stare which sometimes seemed to proclaim her deficient in the sense of comedy. "Why, I'm not afraid of them – I'm as used to them as the cook to the butcher-boys."

"Used to them, I mean, so as to despise them. That's what one comes to with most of them. You'll pick out, for your society, the few whom you don't despise." (23.1)

Madame Merle’s attitude towards men is disdainful. She only acknowledges that a few of them are worth associating with.

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