Conformity in Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence Essay example

Conformity in Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence Essay example

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The pressure of conformity affects individual expression and varies in degrees in which it impacts an individual’s life. Regardless of time period, conformity is able to force individualists to abide by the social standards inculcated into society and deemphasize the importance behind individualism. In the 1920s, New York City adopted a structure parallel to conformity in its figurative hierarchy after the grief and devastation of World War I. With fear of the unknown, a reestablishment of tradition and routine followed, including an adaptation to the use of silences. The individuals with class and power used silence as a vehicle to conform and unify but, free-willed individuals gave another purpose to silence. It became a tool to express the pitfalls of this new society. Edith Wharton analyzes the dual purpose of the silences through characters that represent different facets of views during the time. In the Age of Innocence,Wharton emphasizes Olenska and Archer’s silences to identify and criticize the invisible evils that lurk within the hierarchy of “old New York” and reveal the rationalization of a pretentious and delusional society.
Depicting the nature of a desperate society, Wharton reveals, in this seemingly extravagant social order, a fear of insecurity and change that constantly outlines the motives of each individual and the collective dream, the age of innocence, that is produced. This dream of ignorance evolves out of the grievances of the war due to the loss of culture and people. It impassions the masses to cling to material items and to bind together to support ruling out the unpleasant and rational as a mechanism to cope with crushing reality. At any rate, this principle contributes largely to their actions that ...


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...File, Inc. Web. 24 Nov.
2013.
Eby, Clare Virginia. "Silencing Women in Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence." Colby
Quarterly 28, no. 2 (1992): 93–104. Quoted as "Silencing Women in Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence" in Bloom, Harold, ed. The Age of Innocence, Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishing, 2004. Bloom's Literature. Facts on File, Inc. Web. 3 Nov. 2013.
Wershoven, Carol. Child Brides and Intruders (Bowling Green: Bowling Green State University
Popular Press, 1993): pp. 228–230. Quoted as "Ellen's 'Double Menace' to New York Society" in Harold Bloom, ed. Edith Wharton, Bloom's Major Novelists. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishing, 2001. (Updated 2007.) Bloom's Literature. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 3 Nov. 2013.
Wharton, Edith. The Age of Innocence. Original Classic Ed ed. Australia: Emereo, 2012. Print.

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