The Portrait of a Lady: Chapter 2 - Summary & Analysis

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Chapter II


      As the conversation is going on, Isabel Archer herself appears on the scene. Isabel is simply enchanted by everything around her. Ralph is amused by her candor. He introduces her to Daniel Touchett and Lord Warburton. The author butts in and tells us something about the former relations between the Archers and the Touchett's Despite the care and concern lavished by her wealthy relatives, Isabel wants the tide of her liberty to flow the way she likes it and declares: “I am not a candidate for adoption”. The high spirits, the love for liberty, the protestations of freedom on Isabel’s part charm the three men present, as well as the reader. Lord Warburton frankly admits that Isabel is the embodiment of his idea of “an interesting woman”.

Critical Analysis

      Perfectly attuned to her character is Isabel’s- enchantment for Gardencourt. She constantly lavishes her literary-romantic imagination on Gardencourt. In this respect, she feels that she has at last come ‘home’, even from her grandmother’s house in Albany.

      Isabel soon declares her independence: “I am not a candidate-for adoption”. This is the quality which draws a clear line of difference between Isabel and the other characters in the novel. The compulsions of history, the encrustations of society, the confines of a close family etc., don’t exist for her—she will assert her liberty. The reader now looks forward to the possibilities, the probabilities which Isabel herself has whetted a bit.

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