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 51-55 Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. Does Osmond consider himself to be an honorable man?

2. When did Osmond’s first wife die and why do most people believe she was Pansy’s mother?

3. When does Isabel finally decide to visit Ralph, against Osmond’s wishes?

4. How does Pansy behave in the convent?

5. Who meets Isabel at the train station in London?

6. Why is Isabel surprised to learn that Henrietta will be moving to London?

7. How is Isabel greeted when she arrives at Gardencourt?

8. What message does Mrs. Touchett send to Sir Matthew Hope, the celebrated physician?

9. How does Caspar describe Isabel and Osmond?

10. As Ralph nears the end of his life, how does Henrietta feel about him?

1. In spite of his heartless attitudes and selfish actions, Osmond tells Isabel “What I value most in life is the honour of a thing!”

2. Because Osmond’s wife died shortly after Madame Merle gave birth to Pansy, Osmond was able to lie and pretend his wife was Pansy’s real mother.

3. Isabel decides to go to England after Countess Gemini tells her that Madame Merle is Pansy’s mother.

4. Pansy is tearful and subdued, although she tries to remain cheerful. She wears a “little black dress” and is confined to the upstairs rooms of the convent.

5. Henrietta and Mr. Bantling meet her at the Charing Cross station.

6. Henrietta was always very critical of Europe in comparison to the United States. Now that Henrietta is getting married, Isabel is surprised that her friend plans to “give up” her country.

7. Because the new servants don’t know who Isabel is, they greet her “coldly,” showing her to a sitting room to wait for her aunt.

8. Because Ralph doesn’t care for the man, he asks his mother to tell Sir Matthew that he died. However, Mrs. Touchett simply writes to the doctor telling him that her son dislikes him.

9. Caspar says, “You’re the most unhappy of women, and your husband’s the deadliest of fiends.”

10. Henrietta has grown quite fond of Ralph, and after he dies, Henrietta inherits Ralph’s library.

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Chapters 46-50 Questions and Answers