Study Guide

The Portrait of a Lady Chapter 54

By Henry James

Chapter 54

  • Isabel arrives at Gardencourt, which is quiet and solemn.
  • Mrs. Touchett finally greets Isabel after waiting for the nurse to come back and tend to Ralph.
  • Isabel wonders what life would have been like if Mrs. Touchett had never met her in New York; perhaps she would have married Caspar Goodwood.
  • Mrs. Touchett tells Isabel that Lord Warburton visited Ralph the day before. She also tells Isabel that Lord Warburton is engaged to another member of the aristocracy.
  • Mrs. Touchett asks Isabel three questions: whether she regrets turning down Lord Warburton (no), whether she still likes Madame Merle (no), and what did Madame Merle do to offend her? (make use of Isabel for her own ends).
  • Isabel goes to see Ralph.
  • Ralph says that being with Isabel and near death has brought on a new sense of life in him. He compares her to the angel of death, the most beautiful angel of all.
  • Ralph worries what Isabel has risked in coming to visit him; Isabel apologizes for ever treating him poorly, especially since he gave her the gift of the inheritance.
  • Ralph, however, regrets giving the money to her, and feels responsible for her unhappiness.
  • Ralph still has hope for Isabel’s life — that she’s still young and can grow younger.
  • Ralph reminds Isabel that, although she has been hated by Osmond, she also has been loved and adored by others.
  • Isabel, overcome with grief and love, calls Ralph her brother and embraces him.