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Henry James book report Henry Jamess The Portrait of a Lady and Edith Whartons The House of Mirth examine the societal constraints of their female protagonists and the limited possibilities open to them in the midst of wealthy society Isabel Archer and Lily Bart are victims of a rigid society in which the independent lifestyle they desire is only acceptable for women who are either unmarriageable or exceedingly wealthy Despite this commonality the two characters differ greatly in terms of their goals and the resources at their disposal with which these goals could potentially be accomplished Lily and Isabel have similar possibilities open to them but a crucial difference between them is that Lily has no personal wealth while Isabel becomes a very wealthy woman which opens many new opportunities for her Lily has fewer possibilities open to her due to her meager income and her insatiable need for excessive luxury which would need to be sacrificed in order to maintain an independent lifestyle while Isabels wealth give her the option of a lifestyle that is simultaneously independent and luxurious Lily and Isabel are both extremely attractive and charming which cause them to have more than one marriage proposal from wealthy and eligible bachelors This option would alleviate their financial concerns but would also restrict their personal freedom Isabel refuses the proposals of Casper Goodwood and Lord Warburton because she does not want to be someones wife even though getting married would give her security and approval of society Lily however actively seeks out potential suitors and uses her beauty to manipulate men and to win the admiration of her peers To get married is considered a young ladys duty and Lily is determined to fulfill this duty As Henrietta points out to Ralf Its everyones duty to get married The Portrait of a Lady 110 She is determined to find a husband and her only criteria seem to be that he be
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