The Portrait of a Lady: Chapter 19 - Summary & Analysis

Also Read

Chapter XIX


      During the illness of Mr. Touchett, Isabel and Madame Merle have an opportunity to know each other. The range of their conversation is wide and the accomplishments of Madame Merle dazzle Isabel. Madame Merle had been a dweller in many lands and had social ties into a dozen different countries. She is the ideal whom Isabel wants to emulate. They become fast friends and Madame Merle pours a lot of experience and knowledge inta Isabel’s cup of life. Despite everything, an aura of mystery still surrounds Madame Merle.

      After Madame Merle’s departure, Isabel is hard pressed to fill her time. She spends her time in the library and in writing letters to Henrietta.

      Less than a week after Madame Merle’s departure, old Mr. Touchett dies.

Critical Analysis

      In this chapter, we are equipped with an opportunity to understand Madame Merle better. She reminds us of Geraldine in Coleridge’s unfinished poem, Christabel. She is an unwilling temptress. The passage about the “Envelope of circumstances”, “cluster of appurtenances” is the key with which we can unlock the meaning of the relationship of Isabel and Madame Merle. The reader is as naive in his assessment of Madame Merle, as is Isabel. His view develops and expands with Isabel.

Previous Post Next Post