Essay on The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

Essay on The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

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I read this book out of interest for another Henry James piece, liking Daisy Miller so much. I found that this book, as in Daisy Miller, has a female point of interest throughout. Isabel Archer is a young American girl brought to Europe after her father has died in America. Isabel is an independent girl, easily noticed by many others in her circle. I felt that Isabel was a woman in her time, in that she took notice of things that she wouldn’t have without certain without the opportunities she was given. In America she would have see and done other things, but in Europe she saw so much opportunity. I like the carefree attitude she had, but with the regard for her elders and common courtesy. The example in the book about being a proper young lady when it was not looked at very well that she stay up ‘alone’ with her cousin and another young man. She had asked her aunt to help her and tell her when she is doing, or about to do something saw as improper. I admired that. I think nowadays young women would revolt against proper if it meant something they did not wish to do.

Henry James’ writing was interesting to me in that he gave these characters a real life, with real life struggles and even consequences. I enjoy reading his work, very much like I enjoy watching and reading Jane Austen pieces as well. The time period is interesting to me and what is proper of a lady. That is a large piece of the world I do not understand. I am very much happy to see a woman and a man as equals. Of course there are things in society that women don’t do, or just aren’t a part of, but I am not one to be against that. What’s else interesting in the reading of ‘The Portrait of a Lady’ is that Isabel fell to something she would have been ...


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...hanged so much. Sometimes I wish that I’d been born back in those times, even if I don’t believe in some of the behavior. I will definitely buy another book from Henry James or another author similar to the pieces done by Henry James. I really enjoyed the thoughts I came upon while reading this book.

The world was definitely a different place and women were definitely viewed and treated very differently than today. They were also treated differently than before this time, when they might have just gone along with what was expected of them. Women of this time had a certain independent nature, which they wished to explore whether they acted it out in such as way as Isabel Archer, Daisy Miller or another literary figure of that time. I think it was crucial to the development of society that is today and to the women’s movements of the past, present and future.

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