The Portrait of a Lady: Chapter 21 - Summary & Analysis

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Chapter XXI


      From Paris, Mrs. Touchett and Isabel went to San Remo, where Ralph was recuperating. The day after the arrival Isabel asked Ralph if he thought it good for her suddenly to be made so rich, Ralph denied his actual role (that he himself has compelled his father to put so much money in her hands) and sets aside Isabel’s fears and the doubts. He advised her to spread her wings and soar high up in the sky. Isabel said : ‘‘I try to care more about the world than about myself—but I always come back to myself, It’s because I am afraid.” Ralph’s advice, however, did work on her. She lost herself, during her stay in San Remo, in a maze of vision of the fine things to be done by a rich, independent and generous, girl.

Critical Analysis

      The realization that freedom does not possess ever-widening horizons begins to dawn upon Isabel. We again notice in this chapter her strongest emotion ‘fear’, which appears just before her ‘launching’ into the great wide world of the sophisticated Europe.

      The overall calm of the chapter has as its corrective, the prospects of a new life which awaits Isabel.

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