The Portrait of a Lady

by

Henry James

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The Portrait of a Lady: Chapter 28 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next day, Lord Warburton attends the opera because the hotel has informed him that Isabel, Ralph, Henrietta, Mr. Bantling, and Osmond will be there. At Ralph’s request, Warburton joins Isabel and Osmond in a viewing box, but becomes despondent and angry after observing the two together.
Lord Warburton makes a choice to continue pursuing Isabel. His subsequent anger arises from his realization that Isabel cares more for Osmond, a man of little means, than she does for the impressive Warburton.
Themes
Female Independence vs. Marriage Theme Icon
The Dangers of Wealth Theme Icon
Later, Osmond asks Isabel about Lord Warburton. After Isabel relates something of his background, Osmond suggests that he would like to be the nobleman.
Osmond is attracted by the privilege, power, and wealth that Warburton has grown up with.
Themes
The Dangers of Wealth Theme Icon
The following day at the Capitol in front of the statue of the Dying Gladiator, Lord Warburton lets Isabel know that he is leaving Rome. Isabel tells him goodbye, to which Warburton responds miserably that she is keen to see him leave. She refuses his comment, sharing that she hates goodbyes. She also points out that he is not keeping his promise to refrain from pursuing her romantically.  Warburton blushes, before admitting that this is the reason he is leaving. They shake hands and he departs.
The setting is important, with Lord Warburton’s actions metaphorically mimicking the statue by giving up the fight for Isabel’s affections. In his pursuit of Isabel, Lord Warburton has somewhat belittled himself into a petty man who does not keep his word.
Themes
Female Independence vs. Marriage Theme Icon
Isabel sits by herself, immersed in the history of the sculptures and architecture around her. After half an hour of solitude, Osmond appears. He is surprised to find her without Lord Warburton. Osmond is in a good mood because he finds Isabel’s rejection of a fine nobleman’s passions qualifies her “to figure in his collection of choice objects.” He is intent in his resolve to marry Isabel.
Isabel’s status as a rare middle class woman who would turn down a nobleman’s affections impresses Osmond. If a man of status like Lord Warburton admires her, she appeals to Osmond even more. As with Caspar Goodwood and Ralph Touchett before him, Osmond objectifies Isabel as commodity that will enhance his personal collection of art.
Themes
Female Independence vs. Marriage Theme Icon
Art and Morality Theme Icon
The Dangers of Wealth Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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