Henry James' "The Portrait of a Lady"
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This paper explains that "Portrait of a Lady", seen by many as the first truly modernist American novel, was published only 16 years after the end of the American Civil War, during a period of great social change and unrest, particularly for women and minorities. The author describes the female characters illustrated in this book as Isabel Archer, the confused woman in search of her true self; Henrietta Stackpole, an "independent woman" seeking to change the world through her eye-catching and brutally honest journalism; Madame Merle, the devious and sly possessor of a scandalous secret, and Pansy Osmond, shy and continually controlled by her overbearing father. The paper relates that James' intentions for this novel's impact and legacy are still widely debated; some argue that the fate, which befalls each of his women, clearly displays his anti-feminist attitude but others argue that the freedom of choice he has given his female characters, allowing them to make their own mistakes, finally paints women as fellow human beings.
From the Paper:"One of the first female characters introduced to readers in "The Portrait of a Lady" is also one of the most anachronistic: Mrs. Touchett. Though married, she spends much of her time abroad while her husband and invalid son uncomplainingly reside in England's Gardencourt Manor. She and Mr. Touchett have been virtually separated since the beginning of their marriage, although Mrs. Touchett does spend one month per year at Gardencourt with her husband. Claiming she despises England's food and culture, she permits herself to flit about Europe with nearly unfettered access to freedoms normally only extended to men."
Cite this Analytical Essay:
Henry James' "The Portrait of a Lady" (2005, December 13) Retrieved August 06, 2020, from https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/henry-james-the-portrait-of-a-lady-62807/
"Henry James' "The Portrait of a Lady"" 13 December 2005. Web. 06 August. 2020. <https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/henry-james-the-portrait-of-a-lady-62807/>