Portrait of a lady, by Henry James

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In Portrait of a lady (1881), the story of an unhappy marriage, the author manages to describe the psychological torture of the protagonist, Isabel Archer. Isabel, a young and good-looking American woman, would like to lead an independent life, cultivating her hobbies, but she is prevented from doing this: she is eventually forced to accept the responsibilities of the choices she has made and to her unhappy marriage.

This novel is considered to belong to that part of literature that deals with the condition of women but, differently from many other novels of that period on the same topic, this one does not describe Isabel’s wish as unnatural or anti-feminine nor resorts to the expedient of rescuing the heroine through love and marriage.

 

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