In The Portrait of a Lady (1881), Henry James has created a complex character, Isabel Archer, whose decisions defy glib interpretations. In particular, the ending of the novel in which Isabel chooses to return to Rome and a loveless marriage rather than to liberate herself from its constraints, is enigmatic. Since James chooses not to reveal Isabel's reasons for this decision, there is much ambiguity. What does this decision reveal about Isabel's psychological and moral development? And, in turn, what does Isabel's decision tell us about women's development in general?
©1991 by the Board of Student Publications, University of Northern Iowa
"Isabel Archer and the Persephone Myth: A Psychological Case Study,"
Draftings In: Vol. 6:
3, Article 4.
Available at: https://scholarworks.uni.edu/draftings/vol6/iss3/4