The Portrait of a Lady: Chapter 53 - Summary & Analysis

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Chapter LIII


      Isabel’s journey to England followed through strange-looking, dimily-lighted, pathless lands in which there was no change of season but a perpetual dreariness of winter. Her mind was given up to vagueness. There was no regret, no hope. She felt that life would be her business for a long time to come. Essentially one had to recognize that history was full of the destruction of precious things and that if one were to find that one was to suffer it would reveal, perhaps, that one was precious.

      At the railway station in London she was received by Miss Stackpole and Mr. Bantling. She learned that Ralph was seriously ill; that he could not even speak. Miss Stackpole disclosed that she was going to marry Mr. Bantling and live in London. Isabel was duly diverted as she felt there was a sort of stupidity in their marriage, and that Mr. Bantling was undertaking the matrimony to find the mystery of the mind of this lady journalist.

Critical Analysis

      We follow, in this chapter, the shimmering and vague thoughts in Isabel’s mind. There is a conflict in her mind between a desire to make amends for her broken life by beginning a new life and a desire to accept her fate nobly. We also find that Henrietta has changed a lot. Isabel hopes that now at last Henrietta will be able to see the “inner life” of Europe she had always wanted to see.

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