Study Guide

The Portrait of a Lady Chapter 42

By Henry James

Chapter 42

  • Isabel is doing a lot of thinking. We learn about her thoughts on her marriage to Osmond and Lord Warburton’s pursuit of Pansy.
  • Isabel wonders if she gave a false image of herself to Osmond when they first got involved.
  • Isabel feels certain that Osmond hates her, because she doesn’t have a sense of "tradition." Well, of course not – isn’t her originality the very thing that people love about her? Not only does he hate her opinions and beliefs, he also takes offense to the whole manner with which she conducts her life.
  • We discover the grim truth behind their relationship: Osmond has gradually gained total control of Isabel, who was once so proud and independent.
  • Isabel and Osmond have barely been speaking to one another. Isabel knows that Osmond is upset and jealous about Ralph’s stay in Rome.
  • Isabel has not told Ralph how miserable her life is. She thinks that it is better for him to think that he was wrong all along, although, in fact, he was all too right.
  • Isabel stays up until four in the morning thinking things over. She can’t shake off the alarming image of Madame Merle and Osmond in cahoots.