Study Guide

The Portrait of a Lady Chapter 6

By Henry James

Chapter 6

  • Finally, we get a detailed glimpse of young Miss Archer. Isabel thinks quite highly of herself – actually, everyone thinks quite highly of her. She’s intelligent, creative, and, most certainly, in the words of Lord Warburton, an interesting woman. Her pride is one of her distinguishing characteristics – though it can come off as arrogance sometimes, she is the first to admit when she’s made a mistake. Her greatest desire is to perfect herself.
  • Isabel’s best friend is Henrietta Stackpole, another independent, intelligent, and apparently quite interesting young woman. Henrietta is some kind of intrepid girl-reporter, and supports her sister’s young children with her earnings.
  • Isabel, like Henrietta, considers independence very important, and thinks that women should be able to live without men. She vaguely wonders about marriage, but has never been in love.
  • Isabel reminds Mr. Touchett a little of the young Mrs. Touchett.
  • Newly planted in English soil, Isabel is very curious to know about the country and its people. She asks Mr. Touchett if England really is how it’s depicted in books.
  • Mr. Touchett says that anything he’s learned he’s learned by observation and participation, not from second-hand sources. The amiable pair discusses the role of the American in England, undefined by social class.
  • Mr. Touchett says that English people are very "inconsistent," which pleases Isabel, since she herself is unpredictable, too.