By Joel Porte
The Portrait of a woman is arguably Henry James' such a lot beautiful and obtainable novel. The creation to this quantity of particularly written essays situates the radical in its cultural and historic context and discusses the real revisions that James later made to the textual content. The essays that stick to handle the novel's position within the culture of recent narrative, its relation to renowned women's fiction at the query of marriage, the effect of Henry James' brother William, and the nature of the heroine noticeable from a psychoanalytic viewpoint.
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Touchett has cut out a space for her autonomy within marriage by living separately from her husband, but at the cost of emotional detachment as well; while Mme. Merle, who has found her own autonomous social function as mistress of conventions and manipulator of appearances, is also a slave to this very role and must sacrifice her feelings to it. Henrietta is the emancipated American type, while Pansy allows her personality to disappear under the shadow of her father's will. After all, we can read Isabel's story in an almost infinite number of ways, as the myriad critical interpretations of the novel indicate.
For a reading of the novel that emphasizes the problematic relation between the aesthetic and the economic both in the text and in James's theory of representation, see Edgar A. Dryden, "The Image in the Mirror: The Double Economy of James's Portrait," Genre 13, no. 1 (Spring 1980): 31-49. 8. A detailed account of shifts in point of view and of the narrator's varying degrees of presence in the novel is provided by Martha Collins, "The Narrator, the Satellites, and Isabel Archer: Point of View in The Portrait of a Lady," Studies in the Novel 8 (1976): 142-57.
3 Such is the protagonist of The Portrait of a Lady, and this is why her vicissitudes are of interest: "She was intelligent and generous; it was a fine free nature; but what was she going to do with herself? This question was irregular, for with most women one had no occasion to ask it. Most women did with themselves nothing at all; they waited, in attitudes more or less gracefully passive, for a man to come that way and furnish them with a destiny. Isabel's originality was that she gave one an impression of having intentions of her own" (Chap.