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MonkeyNotes-Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
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Chapter 11

Ralph Touchett is careful from henceforth not to mistake Henrietta Stackpole’s inquisitive nature for one of personal interest. He realizes that for Henrietta, people are "simple and homogenous organisms." Since he is "too perverted a representative of the nature of [humanity]" he decides not to deal with her in a reciprocal relation. Mrs. Touchett, meanwhile, finds Henrietta to be "an adventuress and a bore." She tells Isabel that it is clear Henrietta was raised in a boarding house. Mrs. Touchett detests "boarding-house civilization." She and Henrietta have one or two heated exchanges before they decide to avoid each other. One of these involves servants and one involves hotels. Mrs. Touchett hates American hotels and Henrietta defends them. Mrs. Touchett thinks servants in America are treated as co-workers and Henrietta finds this feudalistic attitude incomprehensible.

One day Henrietta scolds Isabel for having been changed by her new environment. She has not asked about Caspar Goodwood. In fact, he came over on the same ship as Henrietta and Henrietta talked to him about Isabel the whole time. Isabel spends two days of restlessness while she waits for his inevitable call. She gets a letter from him which says he has come to England because she is there. Even though she rejected him before she left the States, he can’t believe that she is so fickle as to have been serious. As Isabel reads this short letter, she hears someone approach. She looks up and sees Lord Warburton.


Notes

The happenstance that as Isabel is finishing Caspar Goodwood’s letter she looks up to see Lord Warburton is a clever plot contrivance on James’ part. It is clear, here, that Warburton has supplanted Goodwood as the object of potential attraction for Isabel. However, since we have already seen Isabel’s ambivalence in the face of Warburton’s advances, it seems that he will merely be a bridge between America and something else.

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