Reading one third of The Portrait of A Lady (p. 168 at the moment), I can’t but wondering about one of the main male characters: Ralph. Ralph Touchett is the only son of an American wealthy banker who had lived in England for a long time. Ralph suffered from pulmonary disease that prevented him from actively working, and just stayed home to take care of his father. His dull life was interrupted by the coming of his cousin: Isabel Archer—an independent girl from America who had interests to see other countries.
|"Elizabeth Winthrop Chanler"|
Smithsonian American Art Museum
(become the cover of
Penguin Classics edition
of The Portrait of A Lady)
Henry James didn’t put it clearly enough whether Ralph was in love with Isabel—I might come to a conclusion at the end—but the more intriguing questions in me right now are: **spoiler alert** You mightn’t want to keep reading if you haven’t read the book!
Why did Ralph make such generous act—giving Isabel half of his inheritance?
It could be because…
1. He loved her so much but he’s afraid Isabel won’t be happy if she became his wife, thus he just wanted to make sure she would be happy with what she want to do in her life.
2. He’d like to see what Isabel would do with her life, thus it’s some kind of human experiment to amuse Ralph’s boring life after his father died. In this case, Ralph was really taking advantage of Isabel, which meant that he didn’t really love her.
3. He wanted to keep her away from marrying other men—Isabel would not think about marriage as long as she’s wealthy enough. But if he knew that Isabel would outlive him, it’s not to marry her that he might have done that. Maybe he’s selfish enough to think that if he couldn’t marry Isabel, no other men could? Hmm….
Anyway…it's only my suggestions, there’s only one way to know the answer…keep reading to the end! :) That’s what I’m going to do now, I’m reading this book for The Classics Club Readathon today. I’ve been having a good time, and hopefully I can make it to 2/3 of it by the end of today. Will come back tomorrow or on Monday for the wrap up!