Study Guide

The Portrait of a Lady Chapter 25

By Henry James

Chapter 25

  • Left to their own devices, Countess Gemini and Madame Merle let their claws out. Unfortunately, the Countess’ claws are much duller and less effective than Madame Merle’s. Countess Gemini sees that Madame Merle is trying to set up Osmond and Isabel, and she doesn’t like the looks of it.
  • Countess Gemini thinks that Madame Merle is doing Isabel a great disservice by pushing her in Osmond’s direction, and feebly implies that she will try to warn Isabel of the trap that’s laid out for her.
  • Madame Merle thinks that Isabel has fallen in love with Osmond already.
  • Pansy, in her child-like way, supervises as a servant set up a table and chairs outside.
  • Countess Gemini asks Pansy to wear a prettier dress the next time she shows up.
  • Countess Gemini asks Pansy what she thinks of Isabel. Pansy says that Isabel is a charming woman.
  • Pansy delights in their trust in her to make tea for the group.
  • Madame Merle says that it doesn’t matter what Pansy thinks of Isabel, because she’ll soon be old enough to be looking for a husband herself.
  • Madame Merle predicts that she and Countess Gemini will both have a hand in selecting Pansy’s husband. Countess Gemini claims that she will not have a part in that.
  • Countess Gemini passionately believes that her brother will make a terrible husband. She reveals an essential truth about Osmond – that there is nothing special in him, yet he’s full of himself.
  • Madame Merle calmly says that it won’t be easy for Osmond to successfully court Isabel, but he can try. Madame Merle says that Osmond always has to have the best (and Isabel, of course, is the best).
  • To Countess Gemini’s chagrin, she learns that Isabel is worth seventy thousand pounds. She thinks it a pity that such a fine person should be sacrificed simply for her money, and worries about what her brother will do to the girl.