The Portrait of a Lady’s Rediscovery: A Literary Depiction of Contemporary Marital Quagmire in Pakistan

Imran Ali



Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady, has spoken to women’s issues regardless of caste, colors, faith, culture, and nationality across time in numerous corners of the world. The novel was a catharsis against late 19th-century Victorian—personal, social, sexual, economic and in particular marital—constraints on American women. Although the text had poor critical reception in its own time, it was reaccredited in the 1950s. Since then, it has kept on enlightening its readers through its powerful female characters and feminine themes. After exploring its historical threads, this study revisits how the text reflected women’s individualism; how readers responded to it; and how it has contributed a change to women’s position since then. First the analogy tries to authentically picture the contemporary position of women in Pakistan. Second it signifies the degree in which the study could encourage the emerging women’s voice in Pakistan against—personal, social, sexual, economic, and predominantly in particular marital—injustices that are done to women under the umbrella of cultural shackles, religious romanticizing, and androcentric institution of marriage.


Keywords: The portrait of lady, women’s issues, late 19th-century, patriarchy, constraints, USA, Pakistan

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