The Portrait of a Lady Questions and Answers
by Henry James

The Portrait of a Lady book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Why does Isabel Archer in Portrait of a Lady go back to Gilbert Osmond in the end?  

Expert Answers info

accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write13,728 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

You have asked a question that has been debated for many years with no definite answer! We can tell only so much from the book and from there on in we have to surmise and infer Isabel's reasons for returning to her marriage with Gilbert Osmond. What we do know for sure is that her embrace with Caspar Goodwood was the trigger that propelled her back to Rome: there is "a very straight path" for her.

The main ideas therefore are as follows:

1) Some critics argue that Isabel Archel is not a tragic character, although she is in a bad situation. She resolves at the end of the novel to bring her full character and...

(The entire section contains 343 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial