The Portrait of a Lady

by

Henry James

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Pansy Osmond Character Analysis

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 every wish. She surprises Isabel with her intelligence, but remains unaware that Madame Merle is her mother. Pansy may be the central reason that Isabel returns to her marriage with Gilbert Osmond at the novel’s end, for she does not want to abandon the sweet girl.

Pansy Osmond Quotes in The Portrait of a Lady

The The Portrait of a Lady quotes below are all either spoken by Pansy Osmond or refer to Pansy Osmond. 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 36 Quotes

The object of Mr. Rosier’s well-regulated affection dwelt in a high house in the very heart of Rome; a dark and massive structure overlooking a sunny piazzetta in the neighbourhood of the Farnese Palace. In a palace, too, little Pansy lived—a palace by Roman measure, but a dungeon to poor Rosier’s apprehensive mind. It seemed to him of evil omen that the young lady he wished to marry, and whose fastidious father he doubted of his ability to conciliate, should be immured in a kind of domestic fortress […] he could see that the proportions of the windows and even the details of the cornice had quite the grand air.

Related Symbols: Architecture
Page Number: 363
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 41 Quotes

“If she should marry Lord Warburton I should be very glad,” Isabel went on frankly. “He’s an excellent man. You say, however, that she only to sit perfectly still. Perhaps she won’t sit perfectly still. If she loses Mr. Rosier she may jump up!”

Osmond appeared to give no heed to this; he sat gazing at the fire. “Pansy would like to be a great lady,” he remarked in a moment with a certain tenderness of tone. “She wishes above all to please,” he added.

Related Characters: Isabel Archer (speaker), Gilbert Osmond (speaker), Edward Rosier, Pansy Osmond
Page Number: 417
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 42 Quotes

The real offence, as she ultimately perceived, was her having a mind of her own at all. Her mind was to be his—attached to his own like a small garden-plot to a deer-park. He would take the soil gently and water the flowers; he would weed the best and gather an occasional nosegay. It would be a pretty piece of property for a proprietor already far-reaching.

Related Characters: Isabel Archer, Gilbert Osmond, Pansy Osmond
Page Number: 427
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 50 Quotes

“One’s daughter should be fresh and fair; she should be innocent and gentle. With the manners of the present time she is liable to become so dusty and crumpled. Pansy’s a little dusty, a little dishevelled; she has knocked about too much. This bustling, pushing rabble that calls itself society—one should take her out of it occasionally. Convents are very quiet, very convenient, very salutary. I like to think of her there, in the old garden, under the arcade, among those tranquil virtuous women. Many of them are gentlewomen born; several of them are noble. She will have her books and her drawing, she will have her piano. I’ve made the most liberal arrangements.”

Page Number: 524
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 52 Quotes

Isabel saw it all as distinctly as if it had been reflected in a large clear glass. It might have been a great moment for her, for it might have been a moment of triumph. That Madame Merle has lost her pluck and saw before her the phantom of exposure—this in itself was a revenge, this in itself was almost the promise of a brighter day.

Page Number: 545
Explanation and Analysis:
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Pansy Osmond Character Timeline in The Portrait of a Lady

The timeline below shows where the character Pansy Osmond appears in The Portrait of a Lady. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 19
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...Gilbert Osmond. Osmond is an American in Italy who is devoted to his only daughter (Pansy) but spends all of his time painting. (full context)
Chapter 22
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...two nuns, a gentleman (later revealed as Osmond) and a young girl (later revealed as Pansy). Luxurious artworks, books, and furnishings litter the villa’s interior. The young girl stands silently before... (full context)
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...identifies the new visitor as Madame Merle. Merle names the young girl as her friend, Pansy, whom she had regularly visited at the convent. (full context)
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The nuns leave the villa, and Pansy is obedient but disappointed to the point of tears when Madame Merle instructs her to... (full context)
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Pansy’s father, Gilbert Osmond, returns to the room. Osmond and Merle talk to one another about... (full context)
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Osmond sends Pansy outside to pick flowers for Madame Merle, which the young girl happily agrees to. Osmond... (full context)
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Madame Merle reveals that she has come to Florence not only to see Pansy, but to present an opportunity to Osmond. She wants him to meet Isabel, who is... (full context)
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...Merle tells Osmond that Ralph dislikes her, and follows this up by calling attention to Pansy’s failure to appear with flowers for the woman, making Merle think that Pansy dislikes her... (full context)
Chapter 23
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...his villa with Madame Merle and suggests he would like Isabel to meet his daughter, Pansy. (full context)
Chapter 24
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Isabel accompanies Madame Merle to Gilbert Osmond’s house. Osmond, Pansy, and the Countess Gemini, Osmond’s sister, are all present. Isabel finds Pansy is innocent and... (full context)
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...Merle and the Countess Gemini walk through the garden, Osmond draws Isabel into conversation with Pansy nearby. He asks her what she thinks of the Countess, stating that she is the... (full context)
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...wander outside to join Madame Merle and the Countess Gemini. Osmond reveals that his daughter, Pansy, is his greatest happiness in life. Overall, Isabel finds Osmond to be mysterious; he is... (full context)
Chapter 25
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Pansy is earnest in her desire to please her father, Osmond, by making tea for the... (full context)
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When Pansy leaves to offer Osmond and Isabel some tea, the Countess Gemini asks Madame Merle if... (full context)
Chapter 26
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...would have liked to travel with her. She suggests he go to Rome also, bringing Pansy with him, but he declines traveling in a group. (full context)
Chapter 29
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...that she grant him a favor when she returns to Florence, asking her to visit Pansy, which Isabel agrees to. (full context)
Chapter 30
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Returning to Florence with Ralph, Isabel tells Madame Merle of her intention to visit Pansy as per Osmond’s request. Merle warns that she should not visit a bachelor’s house alone,... (full context)
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When visiting Pansy at Osmond’s Florence villa, Isabel admires the innocent beauty of her young friend. She is... (full context)
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Pansy shares a personal concern with Isabel, thinking that Osmond has brought her home from the... (full context)
Chapter 35
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Osmond brings Pansy to see Isabel; he still treats her as a small child, despite her now being... (full context)
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...She also thinks of marriage as an oppressive institution in general, not even caring that Pansy can hear her when she describes marriage as an “awful steel trap” full of “horrors.” (full context)
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...the Countess Gemini seems intent on telling Isabel of her brother’s ills at once, instructing Pansy to leave the room, Isabel begs the girl to stay so that she cannot hear... (full context)
Chapter 36
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...Isabel’s childhood friend, arrives to visit Madame Merle in Rome. Over the summer he met Pansy and fell in love with her immediately. He views her as a “consummate piece” and... (full context)
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...has wealth, she may keep it for her own children rather than sharing it with Pansy. Merle reveals that Isabel had a son with Osmond two years ago, but the child... (full context)
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...regularly hosts Thursday night social gatherings, which create an opportunity for Rosier to mingle with Pansy. He is fairly certain that Isabel will be more sympathetic than Madame Merle to his... (full context)
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...“a kind of domestic fortress.” Rosier supposes that this doesn’t bode well for his beloved Pansy to be living there. He knows that Osmond and Isabel purchased the house because of... (full context)
Chapter 37
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Rosier bumps into Osmond before he finds Pansy. Showing a lack of social wiles, Rosier asks Osmond if he would be willing to... (full context)
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Isabel helps Rosier to unobtrusively meet with Pansy at the party. Pansy has developed into a pretty nineteen-year-old young lady. Rosier asks if... (full context)
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...intentionally rude to Rosier, because the young art collector is not the right match for Pansy. Merle suggests that they keep Rosier around in case he is useful, appeasing Osmond’s objections... (full context)
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Pansy enters the room, trailed by Rosier. Madame Merle is immediately proved wrong—it is clear that... (full context)
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...Isabel, worried that he is not good enough—specifically, that he is not wealthy enough—to gain Pansy’s hand in marriage. Isabel confirms that Gilbert Osmond desires Pansy to marry a wealthy man,... (full context)
Chapter 38
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...She advises Rosier that he must be patient and his chance could arise to marry Pansy. She also suggests that the young man refrains from visiting her house regularly. (full context)
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...Rosier attends the next one. He talks with Osmond again, who advises that his daughter, Pansy, does not love or even care for Rosier in the slightest. (full context)
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Rosier seeks out Isabel once more to discuss his predicament. She secretively assures him that Pansy still returns his romantic feelings. During their conversation, Lord Warburton arrives to speak to Isabel.... (full context)
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...“charming face” of a young lady nearby. Isabel tells him that it is her stepdaughter, Pansy, and that she will introduce them. (full context)
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Meanwhile, Edward Rosier asks Pansy if her feelings toward him have changed. She answers truthfully that they have not, but... (full context)
Chapter 39
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...wedding, a quiet and simple affair at a small American chapel with Ralph, his mother, Pansy, and the Countess Gemini in attendance. Madame Merle sent her apologies, unable to leave Rome,... (full context)
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Later, Ralph asks Lord Warburton how his relationship with Pansy is developing. Ralph wonders if the nobleman is interested in getting close to Pansy merely... (full context)
Chapter 40
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The narrator notes that Isabel and Pansy are rarely apart. One day, one month after Ralph and Lord Warburton have returned to... (full context)
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...explains that she is visiting for the sole purpose of discussing Edward Rosier’s pursuit of Pansy’s hand in marriage. She reveals that Rosier often visits her to request her help in... (full context)
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Madame Merle also states that Rosier is concerned at Lord Warburton’s interest in Pansy. Merle favors the potential marriage for Pansy with Warburton as an advantageous one, which Isabel... (full context)
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...that Isabel holds significant influence over Lord Warburton and can encourage him to propose to Pansy; Isabel is surprised to learn that Madame Merle is aware of Warburton’s prior marriage proposal... (full context)
Chapter 41
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In truth, Isabel has to work hard to reconcile the thought of Pansy and Lord Warburton getting married. But she decides that she would be acting as a... (full context)
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Isabel ignores her disbelief that Lord Warburton is truly interested in Pansy when the girl is such a different character from his previous love, Isabel herself. Isabel... (full context)
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...of Isabel’s Thursday night parties. Isabel finds herself with the opportunity to leave Warburton and Pansy talking together alone, but cannot convince herself to carry out the act. Warburton ends up... (full context)
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...Isabel sits alone in front of the fireplace. Osmond interrupts her quiet reflections to discuss Pansy’s marriage options. Osmond is clear in his desire for Pansy to marry Lord Warburton, stating... (full context)
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...expects a harsh rebuke from Osmond concerning her involvement (or lack of it) in shaping Pansy’s future marriage, Osmond merely requests that Isabel help facilitate the match between Pansy and Lord... (full context)
Chapter 42
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Isabel refrains from answering Osmond’s rude request for her to influence Lord Warburton into marrying Pansy. After he leaves the room, she sits back into her her chair and closes her... (full context)
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...admires her beyond all other women; if so, is it possible that he would marry Pansy to please Isabel? Isabel admits to herself that she is sickened by the idea of... (full context)
Chapter 43
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Three nights later, Isabel takes Pansy to a party. She has been holding Pansy’s flowers for some time while her stepdaughter... (full context)
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Pansy returns to dancing and Lord Warburton comes to talk with Isabel. He asks after Pansy... (full context)
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Pansy returns to Isabel, and Lord Warburton engages the young woman in conversation. Isabel notices that... (full context)
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Pansy returns to dancing, having promised Lord Warburton a dance later. Isabel reminds Lord Warburton that... (full context)
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...walk together at the party, they pass a wholly dejected Edward Rosier who is watching Pansy from a doorway. Warburton comments on the other man’s miserable demeanor, with Isabel revealing that... (full context)
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...Rosier still staged miserably in the doorway. She gives him hope for a union with Pansy. (full context)
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Half an hour later, Isabel is leaving the party with Pansy. Lord Warburton assists them both to their carriage, where Isabel reminds him to send his... (full context)
Chapter 45
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...monstrous.” Isabel asks Ralph if he believes that Lord Warburton is truly in love with Pansy. Ralph confirms that the nobleman is in love, but with Isabel rather than Pansy, even... (full context)
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...as he speaks, though, Isabel retracts her emotion and claims that Lord Warburton should let Pansy and Edward Rosier pursue their love match. Ralph defends Warburton’s good character, admitting that he... (full context)
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Ralph is concerned that if he and Isabel could convince Lord Warburton to stop pursuing Pansy’s hand in marriage, Osmond would retaliate by punishing Isabel for failing to persuade Warburton to... (full context)
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...in his desire to prove Osmond’s ill character, and she leaves him to speak with Pansy. (full context)
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Isabel seeks out Pansy and asks her stepdaughter how she feels about Lord Warburton. Isabel suggests that a father’s... (full context)
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Pansy then reveals to Isabel that her greatest desire in life is to marry Edward Rosier,... (full context)
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Pansy seeks Isabel’s advice on what to do if a man different to Rosier proposed to... (full context)
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Pansy surprises Isabel with her astute take on the situation: Lord Warburton has some affection for... (full context)
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Isabel feels quite relieved after her talk with Pansy that clarifies the situation with Lord Warburton and Rosier. Isabel’s final piece of advice for... (full context)
Chapter 46
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...about it. She reveals that Warburton promised to write to Osmond about his intentions regarding Pansy. Osmond still has not received any letters from the nobleman. He insults Isabel for the... (full context)
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...England, although he is sorry to have to leave Ralph. Osmond leaves the room, while Pansy enters to bid the nobleman goodbye. Lord Warburton advises her to be happy, for she... (full context)
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...to lay out his complaint clearly to her. Osmond contends that she has intentionally foiled Pansy’s union with Lord Warburton. Although Isabel denies this and highlights the fact that Pansy never... (full context)
Chapter 48
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...her belief that Isabel and Lord Warburton were enjoying an affair, with Warburton actually courting Pansy for a period of time. The Countess highlights that fact that no proposal from Warburton... (full context)
Chapter 49
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...England, Merle enquired about Lord Warburton and suggested that she was looking forward to congratulating Pansy on the couple’s engagement. Isabel felt that Merle was suggesting that Isabel had failed in... (full context)
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Desiring the awkward conversation to end, Isabel advises that Madame Merle should not despair over Pansy’s marriage prospects, reminding her of Pansy’s attractiveness. (full context)
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...The one truth she desires to learn: did the nobleman change his mind about marrying Pansy of his own accord, or did Isabel intentionally lead him away? If the latter, Merle... (full context)
Chapter 50
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Isabel visits the Coliseum with Pansy and the Countess Gemini. Isabel sees Edward Rosier watching them from afar, and when she... (full context)
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Pansy and the Countess Gemini rejoin Isabel. Rosier wants to talk to the Countess, so Isabel... (full context)
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One week later, Pansy tells Isabel that Osmond is sending her back to be educated at the convent again.... (full context)
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After Pansy leaves Rome, Isabel shares a meal with Osmond and the Countess Gemini. Isabel tells Osmond... (full context)
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...asks Osmond why he won’t admit to the obvious truth, accusing her brother of sending Pansy away because of Edward Rosier’s desire to marry her. She believes that Osmond knows that... (full context)
Chapter 51
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...also decides to reveal an enormous truth to Isabel about Osmond and Madame Merle’s past: Pansy is their child and the result of a long-time affair. Pansy was in fact born... (full context)
Chapter 52
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...see her cousin Ralph on his deathbed. But before she departs for Gardencourt, she visits Pansy at the convent. (full context)
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...that Madame Merle is also at the convent. Merle tries to justify her visit to Pansy, acknowledging that she should have asked for permission from Osmond and Isabel, but she soon... (full context)
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...for Madame Merle, who is helpless in her dishonor. Isabel announces her intention to wish Pansy goodbye, leaving Merle sitting in the convent parlor. (full context)
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Madame Catherine takes Isabel to see Pansy, calling the young woman a “precious charge” who will be pleased to see Isabel. As... (full context)
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Pansy admits to Isabel that she sometimes fears both Osmond and Madame Merle. Isabel gently rebukes... (full context)
Chapter 53
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...time, though, she uses her recent conversations with Osmond, the Countess Gemini, Madame Merle, and Pansy to begin making some connections between previous events. (full context)
Chapter 55
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...by her desire to remain there permanently and her obligation to return to Osmond and Pansy in Rome. During this time, Mrs. Touchett informs Isabel that Ralph has left her nothing... (full context)