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MonkeyNotes-Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
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Chapter 46

Lord Warburton stays away from the Osmonds for four days. Gilbert Osmond finally asks Isabel what has happened to him. Isabel realizes that Gilbert is accusing her of being untrustworthy and he says just that. As they are talking, Lord Warburton is announced. He is clearly unhappy to find Gilbert there, but he recovers and stays to chat for a while. He says he is on his way home to England and wanted to come by to say good-bye to them and Pansy. When he keeps staying, it becomes obvious that he wants to speak to Isabel alone. Gilbert leaves the room. Warburton tells her he wants to see Pansy. They agree that it is best that it will be the last time since he doesnít care enough for Pansy and she doesnít care for him. Pansy comes in and accepts Warburtonís good words with grace. Then he leaves.

Pansy thanks Isabel for being her guardian angel. She says her father just came to get her and kissed her tenderly on the head. She thinks Isabel spoke to him about Pansy. Isabel assures her that she had nothing to do with Gilbertís behavior. She realizes it is part of Gilbertís idea of himself. Even in defeat, he can play the role of the magnanimous father. That evening they go out to dinner and then to an entertainment. When they get back, Pansy goes to bed and Gilbert asks Isabel to remain in the parlor to talk to him. He tells her he believes she is trying to humiliate him. He says it is obvious that she had played him for a fool in making him want Lord Warburton as a son in law and them pushing Lord Warburton away. Isabel is fascinated at the working of his "morbid passion." She denies his accusations, but to no effect. Isabel looks like an angel of disdain as she gets up to leave. As she leaves, she says, "Poor little Pansy!"


Notes

The ugly scene between Isabel and Gilbert only confirms what the reader has been led to expect. At Lord Warburtonís withdrawal, Gilbert has blamed Isabel of maneuvering to get him away. Henry James ahs set up the characters of Gilbert and Isabel carefully enough that their response to this latest change is predictable. The scene shows Gilbert as a cruel man who seems to believe his own fantasies about the depravity of Isabel and it shows Isabel trying to remain true to her most noble image of herself.

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