Henry James’ “The Portrait of a Lady” Quotes (39 Quotes)





    For all I know,he may be a prince in disguise; he rather looks like one, by the way- like a prince who has abdicated in a fit of magnanimity, and has been in a state of disgust ever since.



    Who was she, what was she that she should hold herself superior? What view of life, what design upon fate, what conception of happiness, had she that she pretended to be larger than this large occasion? If she would not do this, then she must do great things, she must do something greater.

    He surveyed the edifice from the outside, and admired it greatly; he looked in at the windows, and received an impression of proportions equally fair. But he felt that he saw it only by glimpses, and that he had not yet stood under the roof. The door was fastened, and although he had keys in his pocket he had a conviction that none of them would fit. She was intelligent and generous; it was a fine free nature, but what was she going to do with herself?

    She carried within herself a great fund of life, and her deepest enjoyment was to feel the continuity between the movement of her own heart and the agitations of the world. For this reason, she was fond of seeing great crowds, and large stretches of country, of reading about revolutions and wars, of looking at historical pictures--a class of efforts to which she had often gone so far as to forgive much bad painting for the sake of the subject.


    Her chief dread in life, at this period of her development, was that she would appear narrow minded; what she feared next afterwards was that she should be so.

    She envied Ralph his dying, for if one were thinking of rest that was the most perfect of all. To cease utterly, to give it all up and not know anything more - this idea was as sweet as a vision of a cool bath in a marble tank, in a darkened chamber, in a hot land. ... but Isabel recognized, as it passed before her eyes, the quick vague shadow of a long future. She should never escape; she should last to the end.

    You seemed to me to be soaring far up in the blue - to be sailing in the bright light, over the heads of men. Suddenly some one tosses up a faded rosebud - a missile that should never have reached you - and down you drop to the ground.



    You wanted to look at life for yourself - but you were not allowed; you were punished for your wish. You were ground in the very mill of the conventional.




    His physiognomy had an air of requesting your attention, which it rewarded or not, according to the charm you found in a blue eye of remarkable fixedness and a jaw of somewhat angular mold, which is supposed to bespeak resolution.





    She knew that this silent, motionless portal opened into the street; if the sidelights had not been filled with green paper, she might have looked out on the little brown stoop and the well-worn brick pavement. But she had no wish to look out, for this would have interfered with her theory that there was a strange, unseen place on the other side--a place which became, to the child's imagination, according to its different moods, a region of delight or terror.

    I don't think I pity her. She doesn't strike me as a girl that suggests compassion. I think I envy her... I don't know whether she is a gifted being, but she is a clever girl, with a strong will and a high temper. She has no idea of being bored...Very pretty indeed; but I don't insist upon that. It's her general air of being someone in particular that strikes me.

    Sometimes she went so far as to wish that she might find herself some day in a difficult position, so that she should have the pleasure of being as heroic as the occasion demanded.

    I don't care about anything but you, and that's enough for the present. I want you to be happy--not to think of anything sad; only to feel that I'm near you and I love you. Why should there be pain? In such hours as this what have we to do with pain? That's not the deepest thing; there's something deeper.

    Sometimes she went so far as to wish that she should find herself in a difficult position, so that she might have the pleasure of being as heroic as the occasion demanded.


    There was a dumb misery about him that irritated her; there was a manly staying of his hand that made her heart beat faster. She felt her agitation rising, and she said to herself that she was angry in the way a woman is angry when she has been in the wrong.


    More Henry James Quotations (Based on Topics)


    Life - Imagination & Visualization - America - Woman - World - Time - Idea - Light - Sense & Perception - Man - Love - Death & Dying - Countries - Art - Facts - Happiness - Pleasure - Experience - Place - View All Henry James Quotations

    More Henry James Quotations (By Book Titles)


    - The Portrait of a Lady
    - The Turn of the Screw

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