Study Guide

The Portrait of a Lady Volume 2, Chapter 28

By Henry James

Volume 2, Chapter 28

  • Lord Warburton goes to visits his friends the next night. When he learns that they’re at the theatre, he follows them there.
  • An act has just ended, and Lord Warburton finds Isabel alone with Osmond in a secluded opera box.
  • Lord Warburton runs into Ralph, who’s feeling lonely since Henrietta’s paired off with Mr. Bantling, and Isabel obviously doesn’t need him.
  • Lord Warburton goes to hang out with Isabel and Osmond while Ralph takes a walk.
  • Lord Warburton notices how charming and radiant Isabel is under "operatic conditions" (28.3), and is puzzled as to why she should use her feminine charms on him.
  • Lord Warburton stays in the corner of the box, watching Isabel. He eventually gets up to leave before the opera is over.
  • Osmond asks Isabel about Lord Warburton, and she reveals the fact that Warburton is a man of high status.
  • Isabel says that she thinks well of Lord Warburton. Osmond says that he could be envious of Lord Warburton.
  • Isabel jokes with Osmond: yesterday he wanted to be the Pope, and today he wants to be Lord Warburton.
  • Two days later, Isabel runs into Lord Warburton again at an art gallery. She is there with her friends, including Osmond, admiring the statue of the Dying Gladiator.
  • Lord Warburton tells Isabel that he is not only leaving the museum, but leaving Rome as well.
  • Isabel has a moment of wanting to stop him, but then wishes him a good journey.
  • Lord Warburton says that he cannot stick to his promise of concealing his interest in her, and so he is leaving Rome.
  • Isabel says that the next time she will see Lord Warburton will be after he’s married. Warburton corrects her, saying that that will never happen, and that she will marry first.
  • Isabel is alone after Lord Warburton leaves, accompanied by art.
  • Osmond creeps up behind her, and is glad to find her alone.
  • Osmond accuses Isabel of being cruel to Lord Warburton, and Isabel says that she bends over backward to be kind.
  • Osmond rejoices in Isabel’s behavior toward Lord Warburton, because he knows that Warburton is a man superior to himself. If Isabel is strong enough to turn down Lord Warburton, then Osmond figures that she is the woman for him. He wants to add her to his collection of beautiful and precious things. We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again – Osmond is so creepy. Ugh.