Isabel is probably the worst character in The Razor’s Edge. Curious of finding out why? Read on! Not curious at all because you like Isabel? Read on because this might change your mind! Please feel free to give me your opinion in the comments, I’ll be glad to read different points of view.
For starters, Isabel is basically like Harry Potter: everybody likes her, but she doesn’t do much. She’s the typical housewife of the 1920’s: she dresses in expensive clothes, takes care of the kids, goes gossiping with her friends while her husband works or plays golf and has parties to pretend she is friends with people who are empty, making her empty as well. These meaningless parties give her a sense of pride and importance, just like her uncle Elliott.
Moreover, she’s selfish and such a snob. Here’s why:
- She refuses to marry Larry because she can’t live on $3000 a year. She wants to wear nice clothes and have parties.
- She likes being with Gray because she can be possessive over him. Maugham explicitly tells her on p. 165 “you’re feeling that you hold him in the hollow of that beautiful but not so small hand of yours. Larry would have always escaped you.” It is selfish of her to stay with him partly because she can control him.
- She also proves to be selfish when she pretends she has sacrificed herself to let Larry go. Maugham puts it in her face that she just let him go because she could not live a wealthy life, on p. 205, and she gets mad at this accusation. Do you know why she got mad? Because it. was. true. She’s so in denial of herself, and that shows a lack of maturity and introspection on her part. Whenever she receives a critique, she gets offended and she tries to prove others wrong, just like she did with Maugham when she looked at Gray with tenderness, sticking her tongue at Maugham right after as if she proved him wrong.
In addition, she’s evil! Have you ever killed your so-called crush’s fiancée because you thought they were better off without them? Well, Isabel has. If she really loved Larry, she would let him be with Sophie because she would know that it would make him happy. It’s also selfish, needless to say…
…Okay, maybe she didn’t directly kill Sophie, but she is the cause of how she ended up in a trashy place and turned out to be killed! Had she MINDED HER OWN BUSINESS and let Sophie marry Larry, making them both happy, Sophie would not have ended up the way she did.
She also feels entitled to Larry and to their friendship. When Maugham tells her that Larry had a meaningless affair with Suzanne, Isabel refuses to believe it, claiming she “knows all about Larry’s sex life”. As if! In addition, she even asked Maugham a while back if he thought Larry was a virgin. Well, if she really did know all about his sex life, would she have asked that question? I don’t think so.
She makes me think of the Kardashians: useless, empty and irrelevant to this world.