The main subject of the novel; the moral heroine. She is very opinionated and also questions meaningless conventions. She is curious and wants to explore the world. The novel is about her quest to gain these life experiences. She is characterized mostly by her original ideas and her active imagination.
An American collector, who marries Isabel Archer. He is very Europeanized, having lived in Europe for most of his life. He has a fine intellect, as well as excellent aesthetic taste. He can be captivating when he makes the effort. However, he is also selfish and narcissistic -- something that Isabel only discovers after she has married him.
Mrs. Lydia Touchett
Isabel's aunt, the sister of Isabel's deceased father. She is very pragmatic and straightforward.
Isabel's cousin and Mrs. Touchett's son. He is sick with consumption (i.e., tuberculosis) and expects to die young. He convinces his father to leave Isabel money when he dies because he is interested in what Isabel will do with it.
Mr. Daniel Touchett
Isabel's uncle. He is a generous man who is very sick. He leaves Isabel a large fortune upon his death.
An American female journalist who is a friend of Isabel. She comes to visit Isabel and is very faithful to her, wanting her to be happy.
A suitor of Isabel, owner of a cotton-mill. He comes from America in order to pursue Isabel.
Countess Amy Gemini
Sister of Gilbert Osmond. She is a frivolous person, often gossiping and fibbing about other people. She tells Isabel the truth about Osmond and Merle's relationship.
Madame Sabrina Merle
An American woman who has all the appearances of being a Frenchwoman. She is a talented and ambitious socialite; Isabel admires her very much when she first meets her.
A British Lord who lives at Lockleigh and proposes marriage to Isabel. He has all the qualities of a good husband, but Isabel refuses to marry him.
The Misses Molyneux
Sisters of Lord Warburton. They are rather bland characters, but Isabel finds them interesting.
The dog of the Touchetts.
Mr. Bantling's sister, who is supposed to invite Henrietta Stackpole over to her house; it takes her five years to do so.
Doctor of the Touchetts.
An American living in Paris, who falls in love with Pansy. He is a collector.
Teenage daughter of Gilbert Osmond. She is a very innocent and impressionable young lady who does everything her father asks of her.
Lillian and Edmund Ludlow
Lillian is Isabel's sister, and her husband is a lawyer.
Sister of Isabel, mentioned only in passing in the context of being more beautiful than Isabel.
The Portrait of a Lady Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Portrait of a Lady is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.