The Portrait of a Lady

by

Henry James

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Portrait of a Lady can help.

The Portrait of a Lady: Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Ralph resolves to get along better with Henrietta, but she tends to treat even his compliments with hostility. Mrs. Touchett also suspects that the journalist dislikes her. Certainly, Mrs. Touchett holds no liking for Henrietta, viewing her as unsophisticated, tedious, and brash. The two women clash over the topic of English feudalism, and Henrietta cannot believe that Mrs. Touchett favors upper class-behaviors of tenancy and servants. Henrietta finds the Touchett family have been Europeanized and believes that Isabel is beginning to go down the same track.
Henrietta is not afraid to speak her mind, and her immersion in Gardencourt has brought to life the clash between European Old World and American New World values. She views English upper-class life as extravagantly privileged and benefitting from the lower class servitude, while the Touchett’s view her as crass and uncultured.
Themes
Female Independence vs. Marriage Theme Icon
The European Old World vs. the American New World Theme Icon
The Dangers of Wealth Theme Icon
Later, when the two are alone, Henrietta reveals to Isabel that Caspar Goodwood has traveled to England to connect with Isabel; in fact, they were on the same Transatlantic ship together. Isabel is dismayed to hear that Henrietta initiated conversation about Isabel with Goodwood. Henrietta charges her friend with losing her American values and failing to give the admirable Goodwood the attention he deserves. Isabel is further put out to learn that Henrietta expects Goodwood will visit Gardencourt to pursue Isabel. Isabel is internally alarmed by this news, although does not reveal her panic to Henrietta.
Henrietta has an ulterior motive for visiting Gardencourt: to convince Isabel to accept Caspar Goodwood’s romantic pursuit. It is surprising that the bold journalist has waited this long to tell Isabel of Goodwood’s movements. Again, Isabel responds to news of a suitor with internal panic.
Themes
Female Independence vs. Marriage Theme Icon
The European Old World vs. the American New World Theme Icon
Isabel spends the next few days in an anxious state of waiting to hear from Goodwood. One day, she is in the garden with Ralph’s dog when a servant interrupts to hand her a letter. It is from Goodwood; the American businessman reveals he has traveled to England to pursue her and requests that she receive him at Gardencourt in half an hour. As Isabel is reading Goodwood’s letter, Lord Warburton appears in the garden.
Isabel is suddenly accosted by unwanted suitors appearing from every direction. Goodwood’s letter is straightforward in his intentions, while Lord Warburton’s appearance is surprising and unexplained.
Themes
Female Independence vs. Marriage Theme Icon