Thursday, January 24, 2013

At least Isabel Archer still has friends who love her


Chapters 45 – 47

            First it was Ralph who lived vicariously through Isabel’s liberty and adventure because his health prevented him from living as he pleased; now it is Isabel who seeks to taste a bit of freedom through him, as he is more free in his poor health than she in her repressive marriage.  Ralph is a good man; he is our moral guide throughout the narrative: he knows the truth of every character.  He even knows Isabel is miserable in her marriage.
            
           Meanwhile, Pansy still wishes to marry Rosier.  She seeks Isabel’s advice over her father’s because, she says,
 “It isn’t because you love me - it’s because you’re a lady.  A lady can advice a young girl better than a man.”  
She even refers to Isabel as her guardian angel.  Isabel recognizes how wise Pansy is already, and she can no longer pacify her with useless words; Pansy has her own identity and ideas.

John Malkovich makes a great Gilbert Osmond in
The Portrait of a Lady, 1996 
            Sadly, this marriage has made Isabel a liar.  When Lord Warburton explains that he is returning to England, with obviously no intention of marrying Pansy, Osmond confronts Isabel as if she orchestrated Warburton’s departure and thwarted his possible marriage to Pansy.  Osmond treats Isabel as if she has just been downgraded from “an object” to just a disagreeable incident, of thought.”

            Isabel has been brought emotionally low, and now she feels regretful of the past.   When Casper Goodwood and Henrietta Stockpole arrive in Rome, Isabel reflects on her feelings of setting herself right.  The author tell us:

“She [has] no near prospect of dying, and yet she [wishes] to make her peace with the world-to put her spiritual affairs in order.”

            Isabel does not want Goodwood to know she is miserable, but she is open with Henrietta about her feelings.   Her friend suggests Isabel leave Osmond, but Isabel does not want to publically admit that she made a mistake. 

To be continued…

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