Relationships in Henry James "Portrait of a Lady" by Kathrin Hüttlin Summary
Seminar paper from the year 2007 in the subject English - Literature, Works, grade: 2,0, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, course: Hauptseminar "Henry James," language: English, abstract: In Henry James' realist novel The Portrait of a Lady not love but apparently the international theme is the main topic. The international theme mirrored in the portrait of Isabel Archer and her journey from America to England, to Europe. But if the reader has a closer look to the interpretation of the text, he will find out that James has made his work more complex. The international theme and love are strongly intertwined; both themes, in a way, influence each other. James has established several different relationships between men and women in his work. By close reading, the reader will discover that there is hardly a page in the book which is not filled with aspects of or allusions to romantic or interpersonal conversations or interactions between or about two potential lovers. According to Borchers, Henry James' attitude towards women and towards marriage itself reveals that we may not expect a modern novel about marriage (116). Because Henry James has already abolished the traditional style of matrimonial novel writing which originally ends with the engagement or the marriage of the heroine, Borchers names The Portrait of a Lady the predecessor of the modern novel about marriage matters (116). So, in the novel, not only aspects of traditional marriage structures but also problems and forms of how to avoid the bond of matrimony are discussed. In The Portrait of a Lady, there is hardly a chance for love between men and women to be lived, neither in legitimate relationships, in illegitimate relationships, nor in alternative relationships.