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The Portrait of a Lady

The Portrait of a Lady

by Henry James

Wealth Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

"Isabel’s poor then. My mother tells me that she has but a few hundred dollars a year. I should like to make her rich."

"What do you mean by rich?"

"I call people rich when they're able to meet the requirements of their imagination. Isabel has a great deal of imagination." (18.26)

Here, Ralph attempts to convince his father to leave Isabel a fortune large enough to allow her to do whatever she dreams of with it. And, Isabel, as we all know, has big dreams.

Quote #2

"Her marrying – some one or other? It's just to do away with anything of that sort that I make my suggestion. If she has an easy income she'll never have to marry for a support. That's what I want cannily to prevent. She wishes to be free, and your bequest will make her free." (18.26)

Ralph assumes that granting Isabel financial independence will also grant her independence from social norms and limitations – like marriage.

Quote #3

Mr. Touchett lay a long time still. Ralph supposed he had given up the attempt to follow. But at last, quite lucidly, he began again. "Tell me this first. Doesn't it occur to you that a young lady with sixty thousand pounds may fall a victim to the fortune-hunters?"

"She'll hardly fall a victim to more than one."

"Well, one's too many."

"Decidedly. That's a risk, and it has entered into my calculation. I think it's appreciable, but I think it's small, and I'm prepared to take it." (18.32)

Ralph’s belief in his cousin’s potential is so great that he’s willing to invest in her – literally. His conviction that she won’t be victimized by gold-diggers is so great that he convinces his father that it’s a risk worth taking.

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