Study Guide

The Portrait of a Lady Chapter 55

By Henry James

Chapter 55

  • Isabel wakes and remembers what Ralph said about the Gardencourt ghost. Now that she has suffered greatly, she can feel its presence. In the moment that Ralph dies, she sees a vision of him, kindly looking back at her.
  • Ralph dies, with his mother by his side. For the first time, we see Mrs. Touchett truly moved – she is deeply grieved. Isabel embraces her aunt, who only responds that Isabel should thank God that she has no child.
  • Isabel goes with Mrs. Touchett to Ralph’s funeral, where Lord Warburton, Henrietta, Mr. Bantling, and Caspar Goodwood are also in attendance.
  • Isabel decides to stay at Gardencourt for a while, as Ralph requested.
  • Lord Warburton comes to visit Mrs. Touchett, and the two go outside to find Isabel.
  • Lord Warburton invites Isabel to Lockleigh to see his sisters. He hopes that she will promise to visit in the future. Isabel makes no promise and feels bad for Lord Warburton.
  • Lord Warburton leaves to catch his train home. He bids Isabel good bye.
  • Isabel sees the bench where Lord Warburton first proposed to her, and she stands, looking at it and reminiscing.
  • Isabel looks up to find Caspar Goodwood in her company.
  • Caspar Goodwood tells Isabel that Ralph had asked him to take care of Isabel. Caspar knows what she risked in visiting Ralph, and he urges Isabel to leave Osmond once and for all.
  • Caspar asks Isabel to be his, as he has always been hers. And, then… finally, he grabs her and kisses her.
  • This is no ordinary kiss. This kiss is electrical. It’s thunder and lightning. It’s the real deal. Shaken, Isabel flees.
  • Two days later, Caspar Goodwood goes to Henrietta’s flat in London looking for Isabel.
  • Henrietta says that Isabel only stayed one night in London, and is now returning to Rome – and to Osmond.
  • Henrietta tells Caspar to have hope – he’s still young. This is cheap comfort to Caspar, and to us.