Study Guide

The Portrait of a Lady Chapter 30

By Henry James

Chapter 30

  • Isabel leaves Rome with Ralph to return to Florence.
  • Henrietta stays in Rome to go on to Naples with the amiable and ever-game Mr. Bantling.
  • In the couple of days before June 4th (when Isabel will go to meet Mrs. Touchett), Isabel decides to pay a visit to Pansy.
  • Madame Merle has been at Mrs. Touchett’s in Florence all the while. Isabel tells Madame Merle that she promised Osmond to visit Pansy.
  • Madame Merle says that she’d been planning on visiting Pansy as well. Isabel would rather visit Pansy alone, but suggests that the two ladies can go together.
  • Madame Merle bows out, and says that they can just visit Pansy separately.
  • When Isabel suggests that she’ll go alone, Madame Merle thinks it’s scandalous that a beautiful young woman should make a trip to Osmond’s house alone. Imagine what society will think.
  • Isabel insists that she doesn’t care what others think because her visit is perfectly innocent, and, besides, she made a promise. We all know Isabel – as she stated in the beginning of the novel, she always wants to choose whether or not to obey society….
  • Isabel doesn’t like the way that Madame Merle says something about others not finding out about her visit. She is somewhat troubled by her friend.
  • Isabel goes to Osmond’s house to find Pansy practicing piano.
  • Isabel contemplates how well Pansy was brought up, and also how sheltered she has managed to remain.
  • Pansy is a simple creature – simple to a fault. She and Isabel talk about her father, and how much she wants to please him. She would like to go back to the convent, and is afraid of getting married soon.
  • Pansy says that she lives to please her father, whom she calls a sad man. She says that she will always obey him.
  • Isabel is really tempted to ask Pansy stuff about her father, but she figures this would be taking advantage of the innocent child (who, for a fifteen year old, is eerily young and child-like).
  • After only an hour’s visit, Isabel turns to leave.
  • Pansy asks her to return, saying that she will always expect her.