The Portrait of a Lady: Chapter 16 - Summary & Analysis

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Chapter XVI


      After Ralph leaves, Isabel’s musings are disturbed by the untimely arrival of Caspar Goodwood. She treats him to a harsh rebuke. Goodwood persists, however, and finally gains permission to approach her again after an interval of two years. Isabel is adamant ; she promises absolutely nothing.

Critical Analysis

      The conversation between Isabel and Caspar Goodwood throws light on Isabel’s commitment to her theories, and her love for freedom. A note of apprehension too enters the domain of the novel in connection with the problem of solitude. We also notice the economy of Jamesian art in hinting at Isabel’s imminent tragedy through conversation. Isabel again expresses “fear” which the critic, Tony Tanner, considers her most powerful emotion.

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