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Synopsis

"The Portrait of a Lady" is one of Henry James's most popular long novels and is regarded by critics as one of his finest. It is the story of a spirited young American woman, Isabel Archer, who "affronts her destiny" and finds it overwhelming. 
 

Isabel Archer, from New York, is invited by her rich family to visit their estate, near London. There she meets a robust man, Lord Warburton, who proposes. She declines his proposal, as well as Caspar Goodwood's. She feels that a marriage like either of these would infringe upon her freedom. She finally decides to marry an American expatriate, Gilbert Osmond. This is when life gets especially complicated for Isabel.
 

Like many of James's novels, it is set mostly in Europe, mostly England and Italy. Generally regarded as the masterpiece of James's early period, this novel reflects James's continuing interest in the differences between the New World and the Old, often to the detriment of the former. It also treats in a profound way the themes of personal freedom, responsibility, betrayal, and sexuality.

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