Realism: The Ending and Its Irony Essay

Realism: The Ending and Its Irony Essay

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Irony is common in realist novels that reveal the fall and/or rise of characters among other aspects. It is mostly shown at the end which is usually tragic but tell readers the fate of the characters. Realist novels have plausible events, with cause and effect in their stories — what the characters desire and the consequences they receive because of that. Realism in the novel, The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, was clearly shown through Lily Bart's character with its ironic ending that had both her fall and rise as a character. She was known for her beauty in the novel; she made various mistakes in the process of entering the high social status. Her physical beauty was not enough to establish herself in society if her name was not included in the social classes. Her character's weaknesses and strengths were shown through her goal of achieving a place in the social hierarchy, and her relationship with Lawrence Selden. Lily's tragic death at the end revealed more about her character, and the strength of her relationship with Selden.
The ending in The House of Mirth has an ironic combination of both rise and fall for Lily Bart. She failed in the literal sense because she passed away and did not physically get married into the upper class. However, she was able to pay off her debts to Gus Trenor with her inheritance from her aunt. Being able to pay off her debts meant more than getting rid of financial burdens for Lily's character. She was able to redeem herself in the end — she gained morality through death. She had the option to blackmail Bertha with the letters from Bertha to Selden about their affairs. The letters would had save her financial problems, since George Dorset offered to marry her, but she decided not to follow thr...


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...to the characters. It does not have chaos, but order and imparts life as it is through the storyline. There is also this essence of the expression that everything in the novel happens for a reason. Realism in The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton revealed the fate of Lily Bart, her death. Irony showed the truth about her character at the end as her financial burden was gone, and so was she. She had ups and downs as a character in trying to establish herself in the elite world, and her roller coaster relationship with Selden. Even with her redemption, what she wanted costed her life and love without the perfect ending. The goals she had, marriage and wealth, were not reached but she left the world at ease of her debts. Her only two options throughout the novel were marriage or death, and since it is a realist novel, it was not unusual to end with an unfortunate event.

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