Study Guide

The Portrait of a Lady Chapter 10

By Henry James

Chapter 10

  • Henrietta Stackpole writes Isabel from London to announce her arrival. Isabel arranges for her to visit Gardencourt.
  • Ralph expresses his doubt in journalists, joking that Henrietta will probably write about their lives at Gardencourt. Isabel insists that she would not. Instead, she teasingly predicts that Ralph will fall in love with Henrietta in three days’ time.
  • Henrietta and Ralph get off to an unromantic, but good-humored start. Isabel admiringly claims that Henrietta is courageous and completely independent from men.
  • Henrietta intends to stay for a long while at Gardencourt, writing in the mornings and socializing otherwise.
  • Henrietta shows Isabel the article she’s working on, which focuses on life at Gardencourt. Isabel insists that she change her subject, accusing Henrietta as having no sense of privacy.
  • Isabel suggests that Henrietta write about Lord Warburton, who will be visiting soon.
  • Henrietta is intrigued and appalled by Ralph’s lack of occupation.
  • Ralph shows Henrietta the Touchett painting collection. Ralph likes the way she keeps it real and doesn’t just say the usual superficial things about the paintings.
  • Henrietta accuses Ralph of giving up his American-ness. Ralph says that that’s not possible, since your country is born into you.
  • Henrietta accuses Ralph of being above marriage. She claims that marriage is a duty. Ralph accuses Henrietta of not fulfilling that duty also.
  • Ralph teasingly responds that he would be willing to fulfill his duty by marrying her. Henrietta just walks away. They’ve got this whole sort of 1980s romantic comedy banter down pat.
  • Isabel tells Ralph that Henrietta did not mean to flirt with him.
  • Ralph confesses that Henrietta disturbs him for the very same reasons that Isabel loves her: she embodies the spirit of America.