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The Portrait of a Lady

The Portrait of a Lady

by Henry James

Women and Femininity Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #10

"One’s daughter should be fresh and fair; she should be innocent and gentle. With the manners of the present time she is liable to become so dusty and crumpled. Pansy’s a little dusty, a little dishevelled; she has knocked about too much." (50.17)

Osmond sees Pansy as an object – a precious one, for sure, but an object nonetheless, which is how he sees all women. He wishes to preserve her in an ideal stage of purity and suspended reality, which, in the long run, is impossible.

Quote #11

"Papa wished me to think a little – and I've thought a great deal."
"What have you thought?"
"Well, that I must never displease papa."
"You knew that before."
"Yes; but I know it better. I'll do anything – I'll do anything," said Pansy. Then, as she heard her own words, a deep, pure blush came into her face. Isabel read the meaning of it; she saw the poor girl had been vanquished. (52.17)

Pansy’s thoughts, desires, and individual identity have all been overcome by the force of her father’s personality and his demands. She has become a pitiable caricature of the obedient woman.

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