Study Guide

The Portrait of a Lady Chapter 34

By Henry James

Chapter 34

  • It’s a beautiful afternoon, and Isabel sees Ralph sitting outside.
  • Ralph apologizes for not having congratulated Isabel on her engagement.
  • Ralph says that he’s surprised that Isabel’s allowed herself to be caught in a cage.
  • Isabel says that she’s done with exploring the world. She wants to create her own space now, and settle down.
  • Ralph wishes that she had waited a little longer, so that more light could be shed on the decision.
  • Ralph longs to convince Isabel that she’s jumping the gun, but she won’t hear of it.
  • Her cousin sees Isabel as someone who was soaring at the top of her game, and doesn’t see why she would settle for Osmond.
  • Ralph confesses that he does not trust Osmond.
  • Ralph says that Osmond is the personification of taste (and nothing else), and that the other man thinks too much of himself.
  • Ralph says that he only is saying these things because he loves Isabel. As we know all too well by now, this is not the thing to say to Isabel if you want her to listen. Predictably, she is annoyed by this, figuring that he’s yet another suitor. However, Ralph’s love is different – he genuinely wants the best for her, since his love is hopeless and he doesn’t expect to gain anything from it.
  • Isabel says that she likes Osmond because he is the opposite of Lord Warburton. He has none of the privileges or things going for him, but he knows everything.
  • Ralph is shocked with how Isabel has changed. She totally believes in her charming theories about Osmond, but she’s so, so, so wrong.
  • Ralph is saddened to think that Isabel is using the money he won for her in utterly the wrong fashion. He only wanted her to be free, and she has chosen to be tied down.
  • Ralph says that Isabel is in trouble, because she’s in the wrong. This rubs Isabel the wrong way, and she tells Ralph that she won’t ever come to him with her troubles.
  • Isabel goes into the house for breakfast, while Ralph moves to the sun-lit garden.