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Isabel Archer, a young American woman who is well-read but not formally educated. She is brought to Europe by a wealthy aunt.
Europe, as it is conceived, as the antithesis of America. Isabel Archer, the American woman, attempts to maintain her American innocence and love of liberty in the face of the constraints of European social conventions.
Isabelís decision to marry Gilbert Osmond. This event amounts to Isabelís capitulation to European values of constraint and conventionality over liberty.
Isabel Archer must find a way to maintain her sense of moral rectitude in the midst of a world whose morality she finds reprehensible. She is trapped and makes the best of it by helping Pansy Osmond and by trying to do what she considers to be right.