Lily Bart lived in the upper part of New York society. She loves nice things and extravagance. However, throughout the House of Mirth Lily plays a game. She wants to be virtuous, stay in the social circle, and have the money to keep up with the demands of her so called friends. She involves herself so much into the social life she loses all chance of gaining her riches virtuously or through true love. She misses her chances inevitably: from Percy to her dear aunt to her indecisiveness of men and marriage. In the end she cannot get what she believes is satisfactory to her so she drags herself into infinite slumber. Edith Wharton wrote the House of Mirth during the Realist Movement. Realism in Wharton's writing is influenced by Darwinism. When rumors spread of Lily and George’s conquests, Lily’s reputation is smashed. Even though she survived through being broke, gossip stops her existence. The past will always haunt her. When Lily decides to keep her morals intact and not smash George’s wife Bertha back by exposing Bertha’s escapades with the man Lily fancies, the readers know she is doomed to unhappiness.
More than Darwinism, Wharton’s writing correlates with Lamarkism, which is quite interesting in itself. Wharton justifies Lily’s death, because in her final moments of life Lily recognizes that she has never had "any real relation to life" (248). In Lily's epiphany, Wharton exposes Lily's separation from the superior life of the city that she once desired and the hand she is dealt. Through Lily, Wharton criticizes the traditional paths of this society and the disillusion of happiness and the inevitable fall and destruction of Lily’s society.
Wharton blames New York society for Lily's fate. Lily is not destroyed by the culture s...
... middle of paper ...
...hat is not about wealth and class. He is the only one that knew all sides of her. Selden is the last view the reader witnesses in this novel. His viewpoint helps the reader conclude that her death is the right thing to happen contextually. No matter what, nothing could happen the way Lily wanted. Nothing could happen the way Selden wanted. “[T]he conditions of life had conspired to keep them apart” (267). Her death is the end of Lily and Selden’s disjointed love. The ending of the novel does what the end is supposed to do. It ties up loose ends. Everything is “made all clear” (268).
Wharton, Edith. The House of Mirth. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1905. Kindle.
Kim, Sharon. "Lamarckism And The Construction Of Transcendence In “The House Of Mirth”." Studies In The Novel 38.2 (2006): 187. Biography Reference Bank (H.W. Wilson). Web. 18 Mar. 2014.