The Portrait of a Lady Essay - Critical Essays

Henry James

Sample Essay Outlines

Topic #1
Discuss the character of Isabel Archer in relation to Henry James’s portrayal of the American in Europe.

Outline
I. Thesis Statement: The Portrait of a Lady exemplifies James’s depiction of the innocent American corrupted and damaged by European influences.

II. Henry James: American and European
A. James’s exposure to and experience in Europe
B. Raw American spirit versus refined European sensibility

III. Isabel Archer
A. The Portrait of a Lady
1. Isabel Archer as an innocent American
2. Exposure to European culture, manners, and traditions
3. Corrupting influences of Europe and Europeans
4. American expatriates in Europe: Osmond and Madame Merle
5. Reactions of Isabel, Mrs. Touchett, and Henrietta to the Europeans
B. James’s portrait of the “lady” abroad
1. Isabel’s tragedy and loss of innocence
2. A loveless marriage: Isabel’s fate in Europe

Topic #2
Discuss the role of women in European society. How does Isabel Archer’s independent spirit reflect her Americanism?

Outline
I. Thesis Statement: Isabel Archer must suppress her own independence and feminist spirit in order to become a European “lady.”

II. A portrait of an early feminist
A. Isabel Archer’s independent spirit and intelligence
B. Differences with the...

(The entire section is 498 words.)