The Portrait of a Lady Questions and Answers
by Henry James

The Portrait of a Lady book cover
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What is a theme of Henry James' Potrait of a Lady?

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A main theme of Henry James' Portrait of a Lady is illustrated by Isabel Archer's character. Isabel proves herself to be independent (through multiple refusals to marriage proposals and determination to prove she can survive on her own). Through her independent nature, Isabel illustrates her individualism.

The other main idea which erupts over the course of the novel is social custom. This is illustrated through the ceremonies and the structure of social class.

The novel, therefore, sets the theme of Isabel's individualism against the theme of social custom (illustrated by Lord Warburton and the Touchetts).

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