The Portrait of a Lady

by

Henry James

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The Portrait of a Lady Characters

Isabel Archer

The novel’s protagonist, Isabel is a young American woman who is characterized by her curiosity, kindness, beauty, and progressive values. Upon Mrs. Touchett’s (Isabel’s estranged aunt) invitation to visit the Touchett family home in… read analysis of Isabel Archer

Ralph Touchett

Ralph Touchett is Isabel Archer’s cousin and Mr. Touchett and Mrs. Touchett’s son. He was born in America but since infancy has lived in England at the Touchett family home, Gardencourt. He… read analysis of Ralph Touchett

Gilbert Osmond

Father of Pansy and a friend of Madame Merle’s, antagonist Gilbert Osmond is an American expatriate living in Italy who eventually becomes Isabel Archer’s husband. Despite being American, Osmond has lived in Europe… read analysis of Gilbert Osmond

Madame Merle

Madam Merle, one of the novel’s antagonists and Mrs. Touchett’s friend, is similarly an American expatriate and an unconventional woman. She is a widow who lacks fortune, yet manages to spend her time traveling… read analysis of Madame Merle

Lord Warburton

A wealthy English nobleman and Mr. Touchett and Mrs. Touchett’s neighbor, Lord Warburton is enchanted by Isabel Archer when she arrives at Gardencourt. He has a close friendship with Ralph Touchett and an almost… read analysis of Lord Warburton
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Caspar Goodwood

A savvy American businessman in the cotton-mill industry, Caspar Goodwood pursues Isabel Archer to England to ask for her hand in marriage. Isabel is greatly attracted by his forceful charisma, but she rejects his marriage… read analysis of Caspar Goodwood

Mrs. Touchett

Ralph’s mother and Isabel Archer’s aunt, Mrs. Touchett is an American expatriate who discovers Isabel in America and invites her to stay at Gardencourt (the Touchett family estate) in England. Mrs. Touchett is… read analysis of Mrs. Touchett

Mr. Touchett

Ralph Touchett’s father and Isabel Archer’s uncle. Mr. Touchett is an American expatriate and wealthy banker who moved his family to England for his career prospects. Mr. Touchett has a strained relationship with… read analysis of Mr. Touchett

Henrietta Stackpole

A patriotic American journalist and Isabel Archer’s friend. Isabel greatly admires Henrietta because she is bold, ambitious, and self-sufficient. While writing about European life for a newspaper column, Henrietta visits Isabel at Gardencourt (the… read analysis of Henrietta Stackpole

Edward Rosier

An American expatriate and art collector who lives in Paris. Having known Isabel Archer as a child, they reconnect while Isabel is traveling Europe and remain good friends. Rosier is an unassuming and good-natured individual… read analysis of Edward Rosier

Pansy Osmond

Gilbert Osmond’s only child, Pansy is fifteen years old when Isabel Archer first meets her. Educated in a Swiss convent, Pansy is an impressionable young woman who is mild-mannered and obedient to her father’s… read analysis of Pansy Osmond

Countess Gemini

Gilbert Osmond’s frivolous sister. She is widely regarded as disreputable due to her unfaithfulness to her husband. However, Countess Gemini demonstrates some moral fortitude when she objects to Madame Merle’s designs for Gilbert… read analysis of Countess Gemini
Minor Characters
Lilian Ludlow
The eldest and most sensible of the three Archer children who lives with her husband, Edmund, and their children in New York City. Lilian is a conventional character who admires Isabel Archer, especially for her intelligence, and hopes that Isabel will soon find happiness in a traditional marriage.
Edmund Ludlow
A New York City lawyer who is married to Lilian Ludlow. He is a conventional character who is wary of Isabel Archer’s progressive tendencies.
Edith Keyes
Isabel and Lilian’s sister, mentioned only in passing as the most beautiful of the three Archer sisters. She is married to an engineer and lives in the American West.
Sister Catherine
A nun at the Swiss convent where Gilbert Osmond sends Pansy to be educated. Sister Catherine is particularly fond of the young girl.
Sister Justine
A nun at the Swiss convent where Gilbert Osmond sends to be educated.
Misses Molyneux / Lord Warburton’s Sisters
Lord Warburton’s two meek and unmarried sisters who live with him at Lockleigh. Isabel Archer befriends them both, and it becomes clear that they admire and adore her almost as much as they do their brother, desiring the two to marry.
Isabel’s Father / Mr. Archer
Isabel Archer’s father, recently deceased, who was at times inattentive but mostly ensured his daughters were raised with every opportunity they desired. Like Isabel, Mr. Archer was an unconventional and well-intentioned character who was ultimately financially irresponsible.
Mr. Bantling
An old bachelor friend of Ralph Touchett’s in London, Mr. Bantling begins a great friendship with Henrietta Stackpole. After traveling Europe together, this develops into a romantic relationship, and the two become married. Mr. Bantling is extraordinarily amiable and unconcerned by Henrietta’s nonconformist attitudes.
Lady Pensil
Mr. Bantling’s sister who is married to a baron and lives on a beautiful country estate. Bantling promises she will invite Henrietta Stackpole to her lavish home, where she regularly entertains persons of interest and importance, but despite Bantling’s desire it takes many years before Henrietta receives an invitation.
Sir Matthew Hope
An acclaimed London doctor who makes house calls to check on Mr. Touchett and Ralph Touchett.