Isabel Archers Downfall in Henry James The Portrait of a Lady

             It is an unquestionable fact of life that human nature is flawed. Human beings have a
             variety of weaknesses that may differ from one person to the next. How one deals with this
             ultimately determines whether it will or will not destroy the person. The faults that humans
             possess stem from an open field of possibilities that they are able to choose from as they build
             their own character. However, as much as individual free will is desirable, as all other parts of
             the natural world, it can include negative aspects, as well. Probably, the most difficult element
             is being able to make good choices, keeping in mind what Mahatma Gandhi once said, "Freedom
             is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err." Once a state of freedom is attained,
             all of its sides are encompassed. This essential human cycle of freedom has progressed along
             with the changing times, views, and values in society. It is depicted by many authors in
             countless novels. Henry James' perception accurately describes the shifts that occurred in
             society during the late nineteenth century. He uses colorful characters in his writings to express
             his opinions on actual revolutionary outlooks of the time and to comment on human nature. The
             Portrait of a Lady is an example of his view on freedom. The quest for personal freedom
             destroys Isabel Archer in Henry James' The Portrait of a Lady.
             Isabel Archer is introduced instantly, in the novel, as a woman with strong and
             uncompromising convictions. The first glimpse of Isabel shows that she is "quite independent"
             (James 27). This early description sets expectations for her character. When Isabel herself
             appears on the lawn of Gardencourt, where she is met by the family she has never known, she
             strikes Ralph as having "a great deal of confidence, both in herself and in others" (James 31).
             Isabel's charisma could be felt by people that were strangers to her. Her attitude and...

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