Comparative Survey, Descriptive Research

  Comparative survey research is a type of descriptive survey where it aims to compare the status of two or more variable, institutions, strategies etc. This technique often uses multiple disciplines in one study.This does not only compare different groups but also same group over time.Few points are to be kept in mind before starting the comparative survey. ·        Comparison Points -The research should be very clear regarding the points to be compared. This can also be identified through review of literature and experience of experts. ·        Assumption of Similarities -  One has to be clear about the similarities the two variable hold. If the researcher do not find this there is no point of comparison. Criteria of Comparison - The researcher has to identify the criteria of comparison keeping in mind the fairness and objectivity. Appropriate tools has to be identified for measurement of criterion variables. Comparative survey research is carried on when the researcher cannot

The Quest of Self in The Portrait Of A Lady

 Feminism and Feminist Theory

Character Sketch of Isabel Archer

Oedipus Complex in Sons and Lovers

Pygmalion as Problem Play

The quest of self in The Portrait of a lady is vital because a kind of psychic journey forms the very heart of the novel.  The journey is that of a mysterious and an uncommitted self, setting out to find the right house to live in and the right partner to live with. Evidently, the journey of Isabel in the novel is analogous to the journey of the inquiring self, seeking identity and realization. Henry James’s moral universe consists of two worlds –means and ends. In the world of means, everyone and everything is shown of a fixed intrinsic worth. The world of ends is one wherein everyone and everything has an intrinsic worth and respectability. In case of Isabel Archer, she thinks she is ascending towards the world of ends, but actually she is descending into the world of means. After her marriage, she realises that instead of being a free creature devoted to the twin ideals of art and culture, she has become,

a woman who has been made use of.

She is intrigued and trapped inescapably.

Being an idealistic and a theoretic girl, Isabel views the world as a benevolent place where she expects to put into practice her theories of ‘free expansion’ and ‘irresistible action’. She is therefore not prepared for any harsh encounter with the realities of life. She rejects Goodwood on the ground of his sheer masculinity, and rejects Lord Warburton on theoretic grounds, as what he offers does not tally with her vague notions of indefinite expansion. Then why does she accept Gilbert Osmond?

In choosing Osmond, she perhaps feels that she can now live at a higher level in communion with her cherished ideals of ‘beauty’ and ‘liberty’ She thinks she is embracing the ideal; the mistake done by her due to lack of vision. Moreover, Isabel herself is not completely free from appearances and external decorations. Once, Lord Warburton compliments her on keeping her house in perfect order. She has ‘an unquenchable desire to please’ and ‘an unquenchable desire to think well of herself’. In this way, she is very liable to the sin of self-esteem. She has a latent desire to look very well and to be, if possible even better. She perhaps wishes to emulate Madam Merle and appears before Osmond as he wants her to-just like a finished work of art. In a sense, Isabel has misled not only Osmond, but herself too.

Isabel’s error, her difficulty, her fate forms a journey on which she must go. It is only through choice and commitment that we can realize what she is. In this sense even error becomes discovery. Isabel’s quest, besides being a search for the right partner to live with, is also a quest for the right house to live in. It is notable that Henry James has described Osmond’s house in minute detail. It is situated on a hill-top, the ideal place for a person of artistic taste and detached observation. However, the front of the house is descriptive,

It was the mask, not the face of the house. It had heavy lids, but no eyes; the house in reality looked another way.

At first , Isabel believes that her life here will lead up to the world of ends, but gradually she finds it plunging down into the world of means. Osmond’s palace of art turns out to be

the house of darkness, the house of dumbness, the house of suffocation.

But, it is the house of her choice. The reason of Isabel’s returning to Rome at the end of the novel is that, she has to get back to the place where she made the most significant, even if mistaken choice. That is where the experience of life, of buffets and blows can be earned; that is where the knowledge can be really attained. That is, where she can attain quest.


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