How much can one person truly possess another? If you ask Gilbert Osmond, the domineering villain of Portrait of a Lady, he’d probably tell you that all relationships are defined as possessor and possessed. He certainly takes this attitude towards the three women in his life, his wife, his lover, and his innocent daughter. Thankfully, this isn’t the only view of possession we see in this novel; other characters demonstrate other modes of relating to each other. However, the question of possession, both in human relationships and in how we relate to the world around us, remains a pressing one.
Love always requires a degree of possession, either mutual or one-sided.
Isabel initially takes a certain pride in being Osmond’s prize possession, as Pansy consistently does.