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MonkeyNotes-Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
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Notes

Chapter 49 probably raises more questions than it answers, but it is the first unraveling of the Osmond-Merle plot. Isabel realizes the Madame Merle manipulated her into marrying Gilbert and she begins to ponder what their relationship might be. The reader is at last privy to a conversation between Gilbert Osmond and Madame Merle that reveals more than their earlier conversations have. However, the revelation is not yet fully made. The main thing we find out in this chapter is the maddening level of Gilbert Osmondís depravity. Henry James shows this in the way Gilbert Osmond responds to Madame Merle, a woman who has been his most intimate friend for years. He is completely indifferent to her. He treats her as an instrument of his desires that has ceased to function properly and should be laid aside.

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