The Portrait of a Lady: Chapter 36 - Summary & Analysis

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Chapter XXXVI


      In the autumn of 1876 Edward Rosier, we have earlier met in Paris, comes to Madame Merle and asks her to help to win Pansy’s hand.

     Madame Merle and Rosier are good friends because of their tastes and interests. They talk freely and we learn that Osmond has been married for two and a half years, and that Isabel has lost a child. Osmond has now moved to Rome where he throws parties on Thursday evenings.

      After Rosier lists his ‘qualifications’, Madame Merle agrees to help him acquire. Pansy but insists that he is to make no attempt to plead his own case until Madame Merle has had a chance to scout the situation.

Critical Analysis

      Along span of three years, has elapsed before James introduces us to Isabel again. The finesse of James’s technique is admirable as he informs us about Isabel’s tragedy through other sources—as if her tragedy was coming out almost automatically so to speak.

     In many ways Ned Rosier is like Osmond—a connoisseur of art, a lover of possessions etc. There are differences too, explicit as well as implicit. It is he who compares Osmond’s house to a “prison”. This is a comment on Isabel’s tragedy also.

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