The Portrait of a Lady: Chapter 52 - Summary & Analysis

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Chapter LII


      Before her departure for England, Isabel decides to pay a visit to Pansy at her convent, which reminds Isabel of “a well-appointed prison”. She also meets Madame Merle there. In an instant Madame Merle sees that Isabel now knows everything. Leaving Madame Merle there in the Parlour, Isabel goes to Pansy. Pansy: is fear-stricken and she confesses that her papa and Madame Merle, both were a terror to her. As Isabel is about to leave, Pansy extracts a promise from her that she would return to Rome.

      On her way back she finds Madame Merle still sitting there. Madame Merle discloses to her that it was Ralph who had made her rich. The revelation surprises her. As she is leaving Madame Merle informs her that she is going to America.

Critical Analysis

      Isabel’s visit to Pansy is important in the final outcome of the book, for it is here that she makes her firm resolve so as not to let Pansy be sacrificed to her father’s desires. Her promise not to “desert” Pansy, it will be revealed, was made seriously. In her last meeting with Madame Merle Isabel is further enlightened.

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