Study Guide

The Portrait of a Lady Chapter 33

By Henry James

Chapter 33

  • Isabel goes to breakfast and prepares to tell Mrs. Touchett the shocking news.
  • Mrs. Touchett, not one to be shocked, already knows – apparently, with her innate meddling radar, she could just feel it in the air. She disapproves, and blames Madame Merle for betraying her.
  • Isabel doesn’t see what Madame Merle has to do with anything (come on, Isabel).
  • Mrs. Touchett complains that there is no reason to marry Osmond; he has neither name nor fortune.
  • Isabel rather snootily responds that she doesn’t need to explain herself, and, even if she wanted to, she wouldn’t know how. Yeah, that sounds like love to us.
  • Mrs. Touchett asks Isabel whether Ralph would have changed her mind. Isabel says that Ralph would disagree with anyone she chose to marry.
  • Isabel tells Mrs. Touchett about Caspar visiting and leaving within one day.
  • Two days later, Ralph arrives. Isabel waits for Mrs. Touchett to tell him, and for Ralph to bring up the engagement with her, but he does not.
  • Ralph is hurt and saddened – the person he found the most intriguing has let him down.
  • Ralph hopes to dissuade Isabel from going through with her engagement.
  • Osmond has been meeting up with Isabel outside of Palazzo Crescentini every day. They walk in a quiet park together.