Essay on Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth: Lily Bart

Essay on Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth: Lily Bart

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““Oh, I know—apple-blossoms on blotting-paper; just the kind of thing I shall be doing myself before long!” exclaimed Lily, starting up with a vehemence of movement that threatened destruction to Miss Farish’s fragile tea-table./Lily bent over to steady the cups; then she sank back into her seat. “I’d forgotten there was no room to dash about in— how beautifully one does have to behave in a small flat! Oh, Gerty, I wasn’t meant to be good,” she sighed out incoherently.”(Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth, p. 259-260, Book 2 Chapter 8)
This passage demonstrates how deeply rooted wealth and marriage are to Lily’s character. Lily cannot survive without money and she can never find a perfect marriage. At the time of this passage Lily is sinking into poverty and begins to feel friendless. Gerty realizes that Lily needs a companion and is there to help. But soon Lily realizes that fate is against her and that she is headed in a downward spiral. Edith Wharton cleverly uses her words to represent Lily’s state of mind. When Lily says she wasn’t meant to be “good”, she means her perfect life with a stable status in society. Then when Lily stumbles in her small apartment, Wharton shows how limited Lily is without money. This passage shows how carefully Edith Wharton chooses her words to reflect Lily’s life.
Lily’s life involves a cycle of relationships with men and a cycle of wealth and poverty. Lily unconsciously follows these cycles until it is too late. At the time of this passage, Lily finally realizes that she is fated to end up poor and unmarried. The cycle of relationships stem from Lily’s inability to understand a man and her lust for wealth in a marriage. Lily’s lack of understanding for men stems from her childhood. As a child ...


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...harton leaves Lily’s death ambiguous. It can be seen as an accident or suicide. But the fact that Lily died from such a low probability shows the impact of fate and luck on the final outcome of her life.
The Life of Lily Bart in The House of Mirth, is controlled by a combination of fate and luck, and her own conflicting goals. Lil’s inability to compromise with a series of unfortunate events leads to her untimely death. In the passage, Edith Wharton cleverly chooses her words when writing, so the words reflect a bigger situation. She uses small sections of the novel as a microcosm of the larger book. Some of her words carefully foreshadow what might come further in the book. In this particular passage Wharton allows Lily to predict and realize her own fate. Using a combination of the subtle language and microcosms Edith Wharton manages to reflect on Lily’s life.

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