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MonkeyNotes-Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
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Chapter 53

Isabel is greeted by Henrietta Stackpole at Charring Cross railway station. She remembers that five years ago she had walked from this station into the crowd with so much confidence. Now she feels overwhelmed by the mass of people and holds onto Henrietta’s arm for safety. When she sees Mr. Bantling, she feels relieved. He seems so stable and sure. Henrietta tells her she will be staying the night in London instead of going directly to Gardencourt. Mr. Bantling tells her he just received a wire that day from Gardencourt that Ralph was doing well enough.

That evening Henrietta tells her she will be marrying Mr. Bantling. She feels a little disappointed in this news. It seems such an anti-climax for Henrietta. It seems such a departure from what seemed like such an original relationship between a man and a women. Henrietta has been invited to see Lady Pensil, who can’t figure her out. She thinks she should be either bad or good. She doesn’t understand the modern woman that Henrietta is. The next morning when they arrive at the station and Isabel congratulates Mr. Bantling.


Notes

This chapter gives the reader a bit of a respite from the more eventful preceding ones. Its news, that Henrietta Stackpole will marry Mr. Bantling and live in London, is surprising, but not shocking as the news Isabel has been receiving of late about her husband. Perhaps the main function of placing this bit of news here in the novel is that the reader gets a chance to see Isabel’s jaded response to news of a wedding. She finds it anti-climactic and is a bit disappointed in her original friend.

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