The Portrait of a Lady: Chapter 28 - Summary & Analysis

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Chapter XXVIII


      Next day in the evening at the opera where Henrietta, Osmond and Ralph had been watching the play, Isabel so much neglected Lord Warburton that he left the party to walk the streets of Rome, “where heavier sorrows than his had been carried under the stars”.

      Two days later, Isabel encountered Lord Warburton in the gallery of the Capital. He pleaded passionately once again for love but Isabel proved to be unyielding. She then bade him goodbye. Isabel remained in the gallery for another half an hour, absorbed in the eternal silence of antique marbles. Osmond came and broke the silence. Appreciating Isabel’s rejection of Lord Warburton he thought her qualified to “figure in his collection of choice objects”.

Critical Analysis

      The increasing thoroughness with which Rome is developed in this chapter, sets it as the most proper stage for tragedy.

      Many aspects of Osmond’s character come to the fore. An ominous note is sounded by Osmond’s consideration of Isabel as “a figure in his collection of choice objects”. We find that his “indifference”, his renunciation of the world is a sham, a subterfuge, as he betrays his envy on two occasions. In connection with the life of immobility and stagnation towards which Isabel is heading, we are reminded of Lord Warburton’s sister.

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