Study Guide

The Portrait of a Lady Chapter 2

By Henry James

Chapter 2

  • Ralph’s little dog, Bunchie, runs toward the house, and Ralph sees a beautiful young woman approaching. We assume, as he does, that this is the independent young cousin.
  • Ralph and his cousin, Isabel Archer, get off to a friendly start.
  • Isabel tells Ralph that he is to go to his mother’s chambers at a quarter to seven. Mrs. Touchett has locked herself in her room, as is her custom.
  • When Isabel does not take it upon herself to greet Mr. Touchett, Ralph invites her to come and meet him. Though her aunt had led her to believe that her uncle was quite active, recently his health has declined drastically.
  • Isabel meets Mr. Touchett and Lord Warburton. All three gentlemen are quite interested in her, in their different ways.
  • Ralph innocently comments that Mrs. Touchett has "adopted" Isabel. She seems offended by this statement and clarifies that her liberty is very important to her.
  • Returning to their pre-Isabel conversation, Lord Warburton declares that she is his idea of an interesting woman.