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MonkeyNotes-Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
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Chapter 33

After finishing crying, Isabel goes to tell her aunt of her engagement with Gilbert Osmond. Mrs. Touchett has guessed it. She immediately realizes she has been deceived by Madame Merle who promised to help prevent the engagement thereby keeping Mrs. Touchett from action. Mrs. Touchett says she might not have acted to prevent it, but perhaps Ralph would have had something to say. Mrs. Touchett asks Isabel why sheís so interested in someone like Gilbert Osmond--"thereís nothing of him." Isabel responds, "Then he canít hurt me."

Ralph arrives two days later. Isabel knows he has been told and waits for him to bring the matter up, but he doesnít. He looks dreadful ill. She has never thought of his illness as being so dangerous as now. She dismisses his low opinion of her engagement--which she only guesses--as conventional. For her, all cousins are supposed to be critical of oneís marriage.

In the meantime, Isabel sees Gilbert Osmond every day. They meet each other in the Cascine, a park outside of Florence.


Notes

This short chapter serves to give the reader Ralph Touchettís insight into the engagement of Isabel and Gilbert. He hates the news. It seems in fact to sicken him further. Yet he knows he canít say anything since it wonít change Isabelís mind and because it wonít it would only cause problems between them. On the other hand, he also canít bring himself to congratulate her. So he goes for three days without saying anything to her.

In regard to the Madame Merle-Gilbert Osmond plot, the chapter brings more to light. Mrs. Touchett is quite sure of the scheme and says as much to Isabel. In this way, the idea of the scheme is brought out in the open. Isabel rejects it now, but later will recall it and realize itís true.

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