The Portrait of a Lady
by Henry James
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- Something for the Guys
Henry James wrote a whole book about the portrait of a lady, but if you don't want your guy students to feel left out, throw some James Joyce their way. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a Very Important Book in the same way James's novel is, and it has quite a bit in common with The Portrait of a Lady. The main characters from both novels are transplanted from their original homes and have to learn how to navigate their new worlds. Both are intense character studies that don't have much in the way of plot, and both protagonists make decisions that boggle the minds of everyone around them, but make complete sense in their own minds. It turns out the books have something more in common than a similar title.
- Another Puzzling Heroine
Kate Chopin's The Awakening is a fascinating book to read along with The Portrait of a Lady. Isabel Archer and Edna Pontellier go on almost opposite journeys: Isabel sacrifices independence for marriage and becomes under her husband's power, while Edna tosses off the shackles of marriage and becomes more independent and liberated. Also, both books have endings that make their readers go, "Huh?!" Have your students take a look at Edna's journey and see if they can find some fascinating similarities and differences between her and Isabel.