Gilbert Osmond is the epitome of everything that one finds objectionable in European society. He was, as a matter of fact, born in America, but since he was brought to Europe as a small child and has lived his entire life in Europe, we may consider him for all thematic purposes a European.
Osmond is a person who puts extreme value on the correct form and perfect ritual. He is a self-centered individual who thinks that the world should take note of his unusual attributes. Everything he does is calculated for its effect. He hits never done anything without considering first what effect it will bear upon him. He is basically an indolent man who has the egoism to think that the world should come to him. If he is disdainful of most of the things in the world, it is because he desires them so strongly.
He is a man of perfect taste. But the reader should note that perfect taste can be carried too far. As with Madame Merle, everything is so contrived that the real person is concealed behind a mask of pretenses. Everything that he possesses is perfect. His objects of art, his house, his view, his daughter are all brought to absolute perfection. Thus, when he desires to marry Isabel, it is only because she will reflect what good taste he has. But when one devotes oneself entirely to creating an effect, there is naturally something artificial about the results.