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The Portrait of a Lady | Chapter Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • Spring

    Mrs. Touchett meets Isabel in Albany and offers to show her Europe.

    Chapter 3
  • Four months later

    Isabel arrives in England at Gardencourt.

    Chapter 2
  • Later that summer

    Lord Warburton proposes marriage to Isabel, but she refuses.

    Chapter 13
  • September

    Caspar surprises Isabel in London, pressing her to marry him, but she puts him off.

    Chapter 16
  • The next day

    At Gardencourt Isabel meets Madame Merle, and Ralph asks Mr. Touchett to leave more money to Isabel.

    Chapter 18
  • A few days later

    After Mr. Touchett dies, Isabel learns of her inheritance.

    Chapter 20
  • May

    In Florence Madame Merle tells Osmond about Isabel.

    Chapter 22
  • Soon after

    Isabel meets Osmond at Mrs. Touchett's home in Florence and begins to fall for him.

    Chapter 23
  • That summer in Rome

    Isabel sees Lord Warburton, who, still in love, leaves when he sees her attachment to Osmond.

    Chapter 27
  • A year later

    After touring Europe, Isabel is engaged to Osmond; she tells Caspar.

    Chapter 32
  • Soon after

    Ralph warns Isabel against marrying Osmond; the two argue and part.

    Chapter 34
  • Three years later

    Lord Warburton accompanies Ralph, now quite ill, to Rome to visit Isabel, now unhappily married.

    Chapter 38
  • That summer

    Osmond tells Isabel to use her influence with Lord Warburton to get him to propose to Pansy.

    Chapter 41
  • Several days later

    Lord Warburton leaves without proposing, and Osmond is furious with Isabel.

    Chapter 46
  • End of February

    In Rome Caspar professes his enduring love to Isabel; he and Henrietta take Ralph back to England.

    Chapter 48
  • A few days later

    Isabel realizes Madame Merle and Osmond manipulated her into marrying him.

    Chapter 49
  • About a week later

    Isabel learns Ralph has just days left to live, and Osmond forbids her to go.

    Chapter 51
  • The next morning

    Isabel says goodbye to Pansy and leaves for England.

    Chapter 52
  • A few days later

    At Gardencourt Isabel admits her unhappiness to Ralph; Isabel learns Lord Warburton is engaged.

    Chapter 54
  • A few days later

    Ralph dies. Caspar begs Isabel to leave Osmond. Caspar learns Isabel has returned to Rome.

    Chapter 55

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Preface–Chapter 1 The author, Henry James, began writing the novel in 1879 in Florence, Italy, and was still working on it the following... Read More
Chapters 2–3 Ralph Touchett is alerted to the presence of a person by his dog, Bunchie, which runs over to a young woman standing i... Read More
Chapters 4–5 Continuing the flashback to Mrs. Touchett's trip, Lilian Ludlow, Isabel Archer's eldest sister, is introduced. She tho... Read More
Chapters 6–7 The narrator describes Isabel Archer's intellect as prone to idiosyncratic, untested theories and self-aggrandizement.... Read More
Chapters 8–9 Isabel Archer learns more about Lord Warburton's family and his radical political views during his stay with the Touch... Read More
Chapters 10–11 Isabel Archer receives a letter from Henrietta Stackpole announcing she has just arrived in England. Mr. Touchett says... Read More
Chapters 12–13 Lord Warburton tells Isabel Archer he has ridden over from Lockleigh to see her and asks her to stay outside to walk w... Read More
Chapters 14–15 Lord Warburton replies to Isabel Archer's letter after a few days, saying he and his sister will come to visit for lun... Read More
Chapters 16–17 Back at Isabel Archer's hotel, Caspar Goodwood unexpectedly arrives to see her. He says Henrietta Stackpole let him kn... Read More
Chapters 18–19 When Ralph Touchett and Isabel Archer return to Gardencourt, Isabel finds a stranger playing the piano with great skil... Read More
Chapters 20–21 Madame Merle meets Mrs. Touchett a few weeks later as she prepares to sell the Touchett home in London. Madame Merle l... Read More
Chapters 22–23 In an apartment in a Tuscan villa, Gilbert Osmond sits with his daughter and two nuns who have brought her to her fath... Read More
Chapters 24–25 Isabel Archer and Madame Merle go to Gilbert Osmond's hilltop home for a visit. The narrator describes the building as... Read More
Chapters 26–27 Gilbert Osmond visits Mrs. Touchett's home five times within the next fortnight (two-week period), and both Ralph and ... Read More
Chapters 28–29 Lord Warburton goes to the opera when he learns the rest of the group is there. He sees Isabel Archer seated close to ... Read More
Chapters 30–31 Back at Mrs. Touchett's home in Florence, Isabel Archer sees Madame Merle who says she is also planning to visit Pansy... Read More
Chapters 32–33 Caspar Goodwood arrives to see Isabel Archer. She had sent him a letter a month previously, announcing her engagement ... Read More
Chapters 34–35 Isabel Archer finds Ralph Touchett in the garden. He expresses his surprise that she has decided to get married, when ... Read More
Chapters 36–37 Some three years later, Edward Rosier, who has met and fallen in love with now 19-year-old Pansy Osmond, goes to visit... Read More
Chapters 38–39 Edward Rosier visits Madame Merle who tells him to limit his visits to Gilbert Osmond's home and to hope Osmond may ch... Read More
Chapters 40–41 Isabel Archer thinks about her marriage and recalls Mrs. Touchett's accusation that Madame Merle was behind it all. Is... Read More
Chapters 42–43 Isabel Archer stays awake all night thinking about what Gilbert Osmond said and many other things. She wonders if Lord... Read More
Chapters 44–45 Henrietta Stackpole arrives uninvited at the home of Countess Gemini who is making preparations to visit her brother i... Read More
Chapters 46–47 Lord Warburton has ceased to visit the Osmond home, and Gilbert Osmond and Isabel Archer discuss his absence. Osmond a... Read More
Chapters 48–49 Ralph Touchett decides to return to England so he can die at home, and Henrietta Stackpole offers to accompany him and... Read More
Chapters 50–51 Countess Gemini, Pansy Osmond, and Isabel Archer visit the Colosseum. Sitting alone, Isabel sees Edward Rosier, who ap... Read More
Chapters 52–53 Isabel Archer goes to see Pansy Osmond at the convent. Madame Merle is there; she has been visiting Pansy. Madame real... Read More
Chapters 54–55 Isabel Archer arrives in Gardencourt and has lunch with Mrs. Touchett, who says Ralph Touchett is unconscious much of ... Read More
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