The Portrait of a Lady
Possession Quotes Page 3
How we cite our quotes:
[Osmond’s] egotism had never taken the crude form of desiring a dull wife; this lady’s intelligence was to be a silver plate, not an earthen one – a plate that he might heap up with ripe fruits, to which it would give a decorative value, so that talk might become for him a sort of served dessert. He found the silver quality in this perfection in Isabel; he could tap her imagination with his knuckle and make it ring. (35.2)
Osmond is the pickiest collector out there – he won’t be happy with just a beautiful-but-stupid trophy wife, and instead seeks a woman who is both ornamental and intelligent, the ultimate collector’s item.
The real offence, as she ultimately perceived, was her having a mind of her own at all. Her mind was to be his – attached to his own like a small garden-plot to a deer-park. He would rake the soil gently and water the flowers; he would weed the beds and gather an occasional nosegay. It would be a pretty piece of property for a proprietor already far-reaching. (42.7)
Osmond assumed that Isabel’s mind would become a part of his upon their marriage, and that he could control every aspect of her identity just as he arranges objects or cultivates flowers (like Pansy).
"You’re certainly not fortunate in your intimates; I wish you might make a new collection." (47.8)
Osmond, talking about Isabel’s friends, assumes that everyone regards the people in their lives the same way he does – as mere items in a collection.