Tag Archives: Portrait of a Lady

Self-Awareness or the Solemnity of the Vows in the Portrait of a Lady (Published)

Many critics have long questioned as to whether Henry James had adequately justified the paradoxical contradiction of freedom in his novel, The Portrait of a Lady. In their views, the last scene of the novel in which James’s heroine, Isabel, goes back to her husband emphasises the solemnity of the vows of marriage in the nineteenth century. This study’s interpretation of James’s character is that, besides the idea of solemnity of the vows or publicity, she herself fears making another wrong choice if she should choose divorce. To provide a richer cognition of the heroine’s personal fear, this paper draws the readers’ attention to Arthur Schopenhauer’s concept of punishment and possession.

Keywords: Portrait of a Lady, Self-Awareness, Solemnity, Vows