Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Isabel Archer exercises her new liberties

Chapter 20 - 25

John Singer Sargent
Elizabeth Winthrop Chanler
Mr. Touchett has “left [Isabel] a fortune,” to which Madame Merle thinks she is “a clever creature.” 

Isabel travels to Paris with her aunt and later meets  her friend, Miss Stockpole.  Miss Stockpole is concerned that her astounding inheritance will “ruin” her.  

Again, Isabel travels to Florence with Mrs. Touchett, stopping to see cousin Ralph on the way.  He gives her advice on having come into money, suggesting she live as she like without always worrying about what is good or right for her.  She tells Ralph: “...a large fortune means freedom, and I am afraid of that.”

Madame Merle has a special friend, Mr. Gilbert Osmond, another American living in Europe.  He has a daughter, fifteen-year old Pansy, but easily mistaken for a young child, unable to make her own choices and without freedom.  She was raised in a convent after her mother’s death.   

John Singer Sargent
Lady Agnew of Lochnaw
Meanwhile, Merle is devising a wicked scheme: she desires Mr. Osmond, a man without fortune, to marry Isabel specifically for her fortune.  When Isabel meets Mr. Osmond, he draws her attention.   Again, Isabel asks Ralph for his opinion, and he shares his disapproval of both Mr. Osmond and Madame Merle.

Isabel also meets Mr. Osmond’s annoying sister, the Countess Gemini; but let’s admit it: she has more insight on what is unfolding before our eyes in the ambitious mind of Merle than Isabel does.  She does not approve of her brother marrying Isabel for her money.  She likes Isabel very much.

And since everyone has an opinion on the possible union between Isabel and Gilbert, Mrs. Touchett disapproves because Mr. Osmond has nothing to give Isabel.

To be continued...

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