In the beginning of the novel, Wharton introduces Lily Bart as an alluring and delicate woman with a desire to live a prosperous life. We also see that Lily recognizes that her solution to save herself from a life that “to her last breath she [means] to fight against” is marriage (39). In this novel, marriage is prevalent because, as said before, women used marriage to grant themselves a wealthier life. “In her youth, girls had not been supposed to require close supervision. They were generally assumed to be taken up with the legitimate business of courtship and marriage”(127). Lily understands that for her to marry a rich man and have a prosperous life, she would have to give up her privileges and affection. However, to love someone she has no affection toward is always a problem for her, especially when she has her love for money. This is why her duality keeps her from reaching her goal – she’s indecisiv...
The characters in the novel get caught up in a frenzy of hate, scandal, and love. Newland Archer is a wealthy societal man who views his wife, May, as the reason for his unhappiness. In addition, Newland Archer get swept into the scandal and falls in love with Ellen, who he sees as a route to independence. Ellen Olenska, the cousin of May, brings a tornado of scandal to New York and becomes the center of criticism in society. In The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, Archer and Ellen describe the desire for freedom in order to portray society as an oppressor.
Lily Bart and her mother have been socially "ruined" in a sense because of the economic failures of their father and husband respectfully. However, Lily's mother teaches her that she can still maintain a high social status if she marries well, i.e. a rich man. In fact, Lily's mother is known for making the most out of the least as she is "famous for the unlimited effect she produced on limited means" (Wharton 48). In a society where women are considered valuable only for the appearance they present, it is impossible f...
Throughout “Ethan Frome,” Edith Wharton renders the idea that freedom is just out of reach from the protagonist, Ethan Frome. The presence of a doomed love affair and an unforgiving love triangle forces Ethan to choose between his duty and his personal desire. Wharton’s use of archetypes in the novella emphasizes how Ethan will make choices that will ultimately lead to his downfall. In Edith Wharton’s, “Ethan Frome.” Ethan is wedged between his duty as a husband and his desire for happiness; however, rather than choosing one or the other, Ethan’s indecisiveness makes not only himself, but Mattie and Zeena miserable.
... lavishness now seemed to beckon her with open arms to a life a where she could live expensively. Despite she sadness she was facing Lily knew she could not return to the realm of elites, “it was happiness she still wanted and the glimpse she had caught of it made everything else of no account” (449). At this stage of the novel, the demise of the Lily whose most ardent desire was money, power and prestige was complete. Lily’s loneliness and lack in what Lawrence show Lily that there is a fate that will cause greater pain than lack of wealth. Near her tragic end, Lily finds herself without both of her competing desires. It is then she finally understand that a life without love, happiness and freedom causes greater misfortune that a life without wealth.
“Winter lies too long in country towns; hangs on until it is stale and shabby, old and sullen” (“Brainy Quotes” 1). In Edith Wharton’s framed novel, Ethan Frome, the main protagonist encounters “lost opportunity, failed romance, and disappointed dreams” with a regretful ending (Lilburn 1). Ethan Frome lives in the isolated fictional town of Starkfield, Massachusetts with his irritable spouse, Zenobia Frome. Ever since marriage, Zenobia, also referred to as Zeena, revolves around her illness. Furthermore, she is prone to silence, rage, and querulously shouting. Ethan has dreams of leaving Starkfield and selling his plantation, however he views caring for his wife as a duty and main priority. One day, Zeena’s cousin, Mattie Silver, comes to assist the Frome’s with their daily tasks. Immediately, Mattie’s attractive and youthful energy resuscitates Ethan’s outlook on life. She brings a light to Starkfield and instantaneously steals Ethan’s heart; although, Ethan’s quiet demeanor and lack of expression causing his affection to be surreptitious. As Zeena’s health worsens, she becomes fearful and wishes to seek advice from a doctor in a town called Bettsbridge giving Ethan and Mattie privacy for one night. Unfortunately, the night turns out to be a disastrous and uncomfortable evening. Neither Ethan nor Mattie speaks a word regarding their love for one another. Additionally, during their dinner, the pet cat leaps on the table and sends a pickle dish straight to the floor crashing into pieces. To make matters worse, the pickle dish is a favored wedding gift that is cherished by Zeena. Later, Zeena discovers it is broken and it sends her anger over the edge. Furious, Zeena demands for a more efficient “hired girl” to complete the tasks ar...
Edith Wharton was the author of The Age of Innocence, a novel published in 1920. In the book, many topics were considered, such as divorce, the empowerment of women, and the lifestyle of the wealthy. The inspiration for these motifs occurred throughout her life. Although Edith Wharton’s work was not well-received, the topics included in her writings held many truths about upper-class society in the late 1800s; therefore, Edith Wharton was influenced by her past and societal experiences.
Image is considered everything even in today’s society, because a person only gets to give a first impression one time when they meet someone new. One mistake can either ruin the persons reputation or have them viewed in a horrible fashion for the rest of there time with that particular group. A person is to dress their best, be their best, to show society that they are indeed the best. For example in the book May dresses up to meet Mrs. Carfry even though the party is not as formal as she suspected, because she did not want to appear as a savage. Even though Newland explains to her that it will be a small event she is determined to show them how much better she could be then them. It is to show her power, wealth, and also status in society. In society there are rules that must be followed for if they are broken the aristocrats shall look down upon them, and Wharton shows the rules from start to finish. In the begging Newland cannot arrive on time for it is improper and towards the end he cannot be with the Countess Olenska for she is not who society has deemed him acceptable to be with. Wharton focuses her novel on a period in time which society plays a key role in the community of New York’s citizen’s lives; it is also the ending period of the high New York class citizens due to the fact of the change coming into the northern states. Edith Wharton shows throughout the novel experiences from her own life as well as how women were beginning to change not only in there roles in society but in there right’s, she also uses the literary element of symbolism to express hidden meanings behind the characters traits as well as how they are to be viewed.
The House of Mirth, should come with a warning that it does not end with an over-romantic and sappy flair , Lily’s hunt for the knowledge limited in the word is erected into the organization of the novel. All of her regrets lead, however painful, to a explanation of her mysterious contradiction, her repugnance, and her tormented indecisiveness. It takes her an entire hesitant life to progress and acquire a belief that suspends the ubiquitous and deafening illogicality of her own, and the human, state. But she does finally find herself at the belief quia absurdum that, for Wharton, motivates all ultimate accomplishments.
Throughout The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton uses many themes and motifs; gambling being a dominant one. Lily Bart is constantly testing her luck with her need to feel as if she has the upper hand in many situations. Lily always seems to throw out winning cards because she thinks that a better hand will come to her in the next round. Many readers might think that Lily is merely a careless, self-centered, and money-hungry tease. She very well may be all of those things; however, I believe it is all due to her addiction to gambling. Gambling gives Lily the rush that she craves in her boring upper class life, which has taught her to be cool, calm, and collected—the perfect poker face to disguise her addiction. Lily Bart’s incessant addiction to gambling with money, men and her own life, in due course leads to her demise.
On January 24, 1862, Edith Wharton was born to George Frederic Jones and Lucretia Stevens Rhinelander in New York City. Wharton’s family were decedents of English and Dutch colonists who had made fortunes in shipping, selling and banking. Wharton, the youngest and only girl of 3 children, spoke 3 languages and was taught by a series of governesses. Because Wharton was taught only with the intention to provide her with the proper social skills needed to become a good wife, she began to read books from her father’s library, especially western culture books. At the age of 18 Edith Wharton feel in love with Walter Berry, but could not truly pursue the relationship because Berry was not from the same social class as Wharton, which in Old New York, was not socially allowed. However, in 1885 at the age of 23, Wharton married Edward Wharton who was 12 years older then her. Edward Wharton was a gentlemen and a sportsman from a well-established family in Philadelphia. Edward shared her love of travel and was acceptable in eyes of Edith’s parents. From the late 1880’s to 1902 Edward Wharton suffered from acute depression and at this time they stopped traveling and lived exclusively at “the Mount” – the home Edith Wharton designed in Lenox, Massachusetts. Edward Wharton’s depressed really put a strain on their relationship and in 1913 Edith Wharton divorced Edward Wharton. After the divorce Edith returned to writing, at this time she wrote a lot of books that often dealt with divorce, unhappy marriages, and free-spirited people who are trapped by social pressure.
Through Lily, Wharton showed that she may not have been essentially happy, but the vices against society were challenged. As females began entering the work force their willingness to learn and receive a lower pay wage than men allowed women to surpass male representation in admistrative positions. (Adshade 16). Bart entered the workforce to exceed the controversy of indecency and to pay her friends back the debt she acquired. The possibilities of this novel being popularly known have many different scenarios. The citizens of this culture found a way to relate to the story plot and the ultimate portrayal of lives. The House of Mirth gives two separate sides of knowledge pertaining to that of an intellectual working woman who was from the lower class society supporting herself; also known as the new woman, to the scandalous woman trying to save her spot on the higher classed social
Edith Wharton, belonging to the bourgeoisie, perpetrates the stereotype of the pitiful, unfortunate lower class by not allowing Ethan or his family a way out of their predicament. While she does not allow Ethan and his family financial support, she also does not allow them any happiness within the relationships they have with each other. Ethan is in a unhealthy relationship with Zeena, Mattie and Zeena do not get along, and Ethan and Mattie have fallen in love with each other. None of these relationships works out in the end, leaving all of them to live in eternal misfortune. A symbol that supports the entrapment of the poor is winter. The winter cold does not allow agriculture to thrive in Starkfield, limiting their source of income. The imagery of snow is also associated with being miserable and being stuck or trapped within its icy grip. Wharton uses these images to further limit her lower class characters, dooming them to live seemingly terrible lives. This story perpetrates the idea of the proletariat constantly being under the economic and social control of the bourgeois. Just like how the poor inhabitants of Starkfield were under the constant looming influence of bourgeois culture, Wharton was literally in control of the way the poor are depicted in her novel. This shows that the bourgeois acknowledge the proletarian life, but do nothing to change it because it would not benefit
Although when we are young, we commonly find ourselves gravitating to books with predictable endings that leave the protagonist and us with what we want, as we mature we develop a hunger for different, more thoughtful or realistic solutions. This is not to say, however, that we can be satisfied solely through the reading of any story that concludes with mere tragedy. The reason why the book Ethan Frome is so widely read is because there is a great deal of technique behind the element of mere tragedy. Edith Wharton is able to distinguish her novel through the use of irony. Irony has been the defining element of many great pieces of literature throughout time. The use of irony dates back all the way to ancient Greece when it was used by Sophocles in the play Oedipus Rex. Irony was also a key element in many of Shakespeare's works and appears in many famous short stories. In Ethan Frome, Ethan ends up falling in love with Mattie who at the time seems young and effervescent in comparison to his sickly, deteriorating wife. In attempting to free himself and Mattie from his commitment to Zeena, Ethan ends up causing Mattie to become paralyzed, taking with it her previous, lively characteristics. All the household responsibilities then fall into the hands of Zeena who is ultimately the most vivacious of the three.
Eliza Wharton has sinned. She has also seduced, deceived, loved, and been had. With The Coquette Hannah Webster Foster uses Eliza as an allegory, the archetype of a woman gone wrong. To a twentieth century reader Eliza's fate seems over-dramatized, pathetic, perhaps even silly. She loved a man but circumstance dissuaded their marriage and forced them to establish a guilt-laden, whirlwind of a tryst that destroyed both of their lives. A twentieth century reader may have championed Sanford's divorce, she may have championed the affair, she may have championed Eliza's acceptance of Boyer's proposal. She may have thrown the book angrily at the floor, disgraced by the picture of ineffectual, trapped, female characters.