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MonkeyNotes-Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
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Ralph comes to Rome. He has decided he wants to stay in Rome and see if he can help Isabel. He wonders if Lord Warburton might be interested in Pansy as a way to get close to Isabel again. Isabel happens upon a strange meeting between Madame Merle and her husband. She recognizes that there is something strong and intimate between the two of them. She speaks to Gilbert about Lord Warburton and he asks her to push Warburton into proposing marriage to Pansy quickly. Isabelís sad marriage is described. She had a son and he died in the first year of her marriage. Since then she has been constrained by the strict social conventions of Rome and belittled by her husband. Ralph is revealed as her most intelligent and loving friend.

Isabel takes Pansy to a ball, acting as her chaperone. She realizes that Warburton isnít in love with Pansy, but that he still loves her. Henrietta comes to town and has an interview with the Countess Gemini. She also meets with Caspar Goodwood, who is visiting Rome. Isabel speaks to Ralph, revealing to him for the first time that she is unhappy in her life. She speaks to Pansy and advises submission. Lord Warburton leaves town and Osmond accuses Isabel of making him leave out of jealousy. Henrietta Stackpole has been visiting Ralph and becoming great friends with him. Caspar Goodwood, at Isabelís request, has also been visiting Ralph. Isabel asks Caspar to take Ralph back to England. She admits to him that she is unhappy. Gilbert Osmond and Madame Merle have a conversation which reveals his subtle cruelties and her powerlessness in the relationship.


Rosier returns to Rome after a short absence. He has sold his bibelots (his art objects) in order to accumulate enough money to be accepted as a suitor to Pansy by Gilbert. Gilbert sends Pansy back to the convent. The Countess Gemini finally tells Isabel that Madame Merle is Pansyís mother and that she has been scheming with Gilbert for years to keep their affair secret while making sure Pansy is the great success that she wishes she herself had been. Isabel goes to the convent to visit Pansy. She finds Madame Merle there. Madame Merle reveals her plan to leave for America soon, an indication of her total failure in Europe.

Isabel hears that Ralph is dying and is asking for her. Against Gilbert Osmondís wishes, she travels to England to see Ralph. She is greeted by Henrietta Stackpole and Mr. Bantling at the train station. They plan to marry soon, a decision which disappoints Isabel as conventional and predictable on the part of her hitherto unpredictable friend Henrietta. She talks with Mrs. Touchett about her mistake in marrying Osmond and Madame Merleís part in it. She also talks with Ralph on his deathbed. Ralph dies. After the funeral, Caspar finds Isabel in the garden and kisses her, proposing that, regardless of her marriage to Osmond, she should come and live with him. Isabel returns to Rome.

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