illustration of Isabel Archer with a hand fan positioned between two silhouetted profiles

The Portrait of a Lady

by Henry James

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Chapters 21-25 Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. Why do Isabel and Mrs. Touchett travel to San Remo?

2. What does Pansy think of Madame Merle?

3. What does Osmond say is his “best” fault?

4. Where does Mrs. Touchett live in Florence?

5. Where did Osmond live before he moved to Florence?

6. Does Ralph think Madame Merle is “worldly”?

7. What does Countess Gemini look like?

8. According to Osmond, what is a woman’s “natural mission”?

9. What is Osmond’s life “plan” that he decided on years ago?

10. What do Madame Merle and the Countess teach Pansy to do?

1. They go to San Remo to visit Ralph who is staying there, hoping the warmer climate will improve his failing health.

2. Although Pansy never openly expresses an opinion of Osmond’s old friend, Madame Merle believes that Pansy doesn’t like her.

3. According to Osmond, his “best” fault is his indolence. He apparently enjoys his life of tasteful leisure, even though he is barely able to afford it.

4. Mrs. Touchett lives in an elegant villa known as the Palazzo Crescentini.

5. Osmond originally lived in Rome, and he has been living in Europe for many years.

6. Madame Merle is not just “worldly,” according to Ralph, she is “the great round world itself”!

7. She looks like a “tropical bird” with a “long beak-like nose, small, quickly-moving eyes and a mouth and chin that receded extremely.”

8. Osmond tells Isabel that a “woman’s natural mission is to be where she’s most appreciated.”

9. “Not to worry—not to strive nor struggle. To resign myself. To be content with little.”

10. They teach her the proper way to brew and serve tea.

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