The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

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What is the point of view of James' The Portrait of a Lady?

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amy-lepore eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Go back and look at the text.  Does the narrator involve herself/himself in the story (I, we, us, our) or does the narrator only report what happens to other people (he, she, they, them)?  If the narrator includes him/herself in the action, you have a first person point of view.  If the narrator simply reports, you have a third person point of view. 

In addition, you can figure out if the point of view is limited or omniscient.  Limited point of view sticks with one person normally.  You won't know what others are thinking or what their motives for doing things are unless that character flat out tells you.

Omniscient point of view gives you an insider's view of more than one, usually all, of the characters' thoughts and feelings. This is especially true of the books which flip back and forth and focus on several characters and their opinions of one instance--like Faulkner's As I Lay Dying where each chapter is the point of view of one of the other characters and how they are each dealing with the death of the mother in the family.

From there, you can figure out the rest of your questions. Setting is not just the actual location--it can be time, weather, mood, as well.  So, what kind of clothing were they wearing? What cars did they drive? How are they talking?  All of this will give you a hint as to the setting even if it isn't blatantly spelled out for you.

Sometimes you just have to read it more than once to get it all.  Good Luck!

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