The Portrait of a Lady

by

Henry James

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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 Mrs. Touchett, who prefers to live abroad for most of the year. He is elderly and sickly, but greatly enjoys meeting Isabel and comes to treasure her regular presence in his life. Mr. Touchett is a kind and generous man who, at Ralph’s encouragement, leaves Isabel a large fortune in his will so that she can enjoy a life of personal freedom.

Mr. Touchett Quotes in The Portrait of a Lady

The The Portrait of a Lady quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Touchett or refer to Mr. Touchett. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Female Independence vs. Marriage Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Oxford edition of The Portrait of a Lady published in 2009.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.

Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

In so far as the indefinable had an influence upon Isabel’s behaviour at this juncture, it was not the conception, even unformulated, of a union with Caspar Goodwood; for however she might have resisted conquest at her English suitor’s large quiet hands she was at least as far removed from the disposition to let the young man from Boston take positive possession of her. […] The idea of a diminished liberty was particularly disagreeable to her at present.

Page Number: 125-126
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

“I’m not in my first youth—I can do whatever I choose—I belong quite to the independent class. I’ve neither father nor mother; I’m poor and of a serious disposition; I’m not pretty. I therefore am not bound to be timid and conventional; indeed I can’t afford such luxuries. Besides, I try to judge things for myself; to judge wrong, I think, is more honourable to not to judge at all. I don’t wish to be a mere sheep in the flock; I wish to choose my own fate and know something of human affairs beyond what other people think it compatible with propriety to tell me.”

Related Characters: Isabel Archer (speaker), Caspar Goodwood, Mrs. Touchett, Mr. Touchett
Page Number: 170
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mr. Touchett Character Timeline in The Portrait of a Lady

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Touchett appears in The Portrait of a Lady. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
The European Old World vs. the American New World Theme Icon
The Dangers of Wealth Theme Icon
...on a beautiful summer afternoon. A collie dog is also present. The ageing gentleman is Mr. Touchett , an American banker who has lived in England for three decades. Now an elderly... (full context)
The European Old World vs. the American New World Theme Icon
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The two younger men interrupt Mr. Touchett ’s contemplation to engage him in conversation. One is Mr. Touchett’s son, Ralph, who has... (full context)
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The European Old World vs. the American New World Theme Icon
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...more enjoyable and exciting. Lord Warburton imagines how an interesting wife might change his life. Mr. Touchett instructs Warburton to fall in love as soon as possible, as long as it is... (full context)
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Despite Lord Warburton’s questioning Mr. Touchett further about his soon-to-visit niece, Mr. Touchett and Ralph can offer no further details about... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Ralph wanders away as Mr. Touchett and Lord Warburton talk further. He is unaware that a tall young woman in a... (full context)
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Isabel exclaims at the identity of the other two men on the lawn, Mr. Touchett and Lord Warburton, declaring that she hoped she would meet a lord in England. Upon... (full context)
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Mr. Touchett then moves away with Isabel, leaving Lord Warburton to tell Ralph that Isabel is exactly... (full context)
Chapter 3
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...although “she never pleased.” In a rather extraordinary arrangement, she resides in Italy while her Mr. Touchett lives in England; Mrs. Touchett realized early on in their marriage that she and her... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Ralph tends to be motherly in nature and takes after Mr. Touchett in this temperament. Mr. Touchett arrived in England some thirty years ago to pursue a... (full context)
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...attending Oxford University in England. Ralph traveled and also worked in the banking industry for Mr. Touchett , but after falling ill with consumption, now lives a comfortable life between Gardencourt and... (full context)
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The European Old World vs. the American New World Theme Icon
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...her aunt has covered a number of expenses. Mrs. Touchett tells Ralph that she wants Mr. Touchett to invite Isabel to stay at Gardencourt for a suitable period, before she takes her... (full context)
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Isabel reveals to Ralph that she enjoyed meeting Mr. Touchett and Lord Warburton. She also likes Mrs. Touchett, particularly because her aunt does not expect... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Art and Morality Theme Icon
Isabel forms an enjoyable friendship with her uncle, Mr. Touchett , spending time with him each day and asking him questions about England. He informs... (full context)
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The European Old World vs. the American New World Theme Icon
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Moving on to discuss English class structures, Mr. Touchett tells Isabel that it is helpful being an American in England, because Americans do not... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Isabel and Mr. Touchett continue to entertain themselves by discussing British attitudes and conventions. Isabel learns nothing from British... (full context)
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...surprised at her bold manner. Before her arrival he had been focused on worrying about his father ’s ill health, but he now has a new zest for life due to his... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Isabel is confused by Ralph’s judgments of Lord Warburton, and therefore also speaks to Mr. Touchett . Isabel’s uncle instructs her not to fall in love with the nobleman, to which... (full context)
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Mr. Touchett also tells Isabel that although Lord Warburton talks about his desire for revolutionary changes to... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...Warburton’s proposal. She rejects his suggestions that she wants to marry an American, or that Mr. Touchett objects to him, or that she cannot live permanently in the English countryside. Instead, she... (full context)
Chapter 13
Female Independence vs. Marriage Theme Icon
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...to discuss Lord Warburton’s marriage proposal with her uncle. Upon hearing of these recent events, Mr. Touchett confirms that he knew Isabel would be a success in Europe. Furthermore, Lord Warburton had... (full context)
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Isabel describes her feelings to Mr. Touchett , including her desire to refrain from marriage at this point in her life. She... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Henrietta decides that she will not return to Gardencourt despite Mr. Touchett ’s renewed invitation, preferring to wait on Lady Pensil’s letter of invitation that Mr. Bantling... (full context)
Female Independence vs. Marriage Theme Icon
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...Ralph visits Isabel with some unhappy news. Mrs. Touchett has sent a telegram that states Mr. Touchett ’s health has taken a turn for the worse. She is extremely worried and begs... (full context)
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...ready for departure, and Ralph finds Henrietta in the sitting-room. She pays her respects to his father , wishing Mr. Touchett better health. She also recounts her pleasure at Mr. Bantling’s friendship... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Isabel and Ralph have arrived at Gardencourt to be with the ailing Mr. Touchett . Isabel finds an unknown woman playing a piano in the house. The newcomer appears... (full context)
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Ralph’s attention shifts back to his father ’s poor condition. Despite the local doctor and Sir Matthew Hope’s attentions, Mr. Touchett has... (full context)
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The following day, Mr. Touchett wakes for a while, and it is Ralph who is on watch beside him. Mr.... (full context)
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...Ralph needing very little money for the rest of his short and infirm life, imploring Mr. Touchett to leave a decent proportion of his wealth to “some good use.” Mr. Touchett has... (full context)
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Mr. Touchett carries on, asking Ralph what he thinks of Isabel. After jerking in surprise, Ralph laughs... (full context)
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Ralph would, however, like to support Isabel in her life desires. Mr. Touchett , who has also admitted his great fondness for his niece, states that he has... (full context)
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Mr. Touchett recognizes that a legacy of some 60,000 pounds would tie Isabel to the risk of... (full context)
Chapter 19
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During the period of Mr. Touchett ’s declining health, Isabel and Madame Merle are thrown together by circumstance and form a... (full context)
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Merle also reveals that she feels uncomfortable staying at Gardencourt when Mr. Touchett is so unwell. She finds it hard to offer comfort to Ralph in particular, for... (full context)
Female Independence vs. Marriage Theme Icon
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...Isabel’s reassurance that she is very happy to have been able to get to know Mr. Touchett , Mrs. Touchett responds that allowing Isabel the opportunity to meet her uncle was not... (full context)
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...sits reading distractedly in the library when Ralph enters the room and informs her that Mr. Touchett has died. She exclaims in anguish and holds out her hands to him. (full context)
Chapter 20
Female Independence vs. Marriage Theme Icon
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...the house is for sale. Mrs. Touchett greets her matter-of-factly despite the recent loss of Mr. Touchett . She tells her friend that she believes her husband regarded her as a good... (full context)
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...left a generous inheritance, although not as much as she expected. In an extraordinary move, Mr. Touchett has gifted their niece, Isabel, a large fortune—roughly 70,000 pounds. Madame Merle is astonished by... (full context)
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...notes the young woman’s “pale and grave” appearance. Isabel is heartbroken by the loss of Mr. Touchett and overwhelmed by her surprising inheritance. However, after some time, she comes to realize that... (full context)
 Chapter 21
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When Isabel asks Ralph if he encouraged his father to leave Isabel an inheritance for his own entertainment, he replies seriously that he believes... (full context)
Chapter 22
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The narrative jumps to a villa in Florence, six months after Mr. Touchett ’s death. The architecture of the building is of special interest, with the villa set... (full context)
Chapter 34
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...Ralph is sickened by his sudden understanding that he has facilitated Isabel’s mistake by convincing his father to leave her a great fortune, thereby attracting the attention of a social predator such... (full context)
Chapter 42
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Isabel comes to realize that Mr. Touchett ’s gift of a significant fortune has been a burden that has ruined her life.... (full context)