The Portrait of a Lady: Chapter 29 - Summary & Analysis

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Chapter XXIX


      Osmond and Isabel spend a great deal of time together during their stay in Rome, and Osmond finds himself highly amused. He writes a sonnet to commemorate their visit and shows it to Isabel.

      A telegram from Mrs. Touchett inviting Isabel to go with her to Bellaggio arrives. Ralph is to take Isabel back to Florence and Osmond elects to stay in Rome for a few days more. Before they take their leave, Osmond blurts out his feelings for her in quite an outspoken way. He tells Isabel that “one ought to make one’s life a work of art”. He thinks that Isabel cannot lose her temper—she is so cherubic that she can only find it. He blurts out his love promising eternal fidelity. Isabel is agitated, and feels a “clipping of the bolt” and a dread, as this demands something deep within her like a “large sum stored in bank”. However, there are no mutual promises. He wants her to visit Pansy and convey his affections to her. Isabel agrees to do this. She feels a great agitation after Osmond’s departure.

Critical Analysis

     Osmond’s proposal comes as Isabel is about to embark on a world tour. Her reaction to the proposal is not as decisive as in the cases of Lord Warburton and Good wood. Definitely she is in the clutches of the rapacious Osmond. Her “agitation” only supports the critic Tony Tanner’s point that she is frightened and that her strongest emotion is that of “fear”.

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