Wharton’s characterization of Lily Bart focuses on her beauty as the reason for her acceptance into high society. During the tableaux vivants at the Welly Brys’, Lily’s simple costume was the main focus of the men at the party: “This was the world [Lily] lived in, these were the standards by which she was fated to be measured! Does one go to Caliban for a judgement on Miranda?” (130). Wharton notes through Selden’s thoughts that Lily’s only place in high society is as a result from her beauty. The allusion to The Tempest by Shakespeare only furthers this fact, as Wharton then implies that without her beauty, Lily would not have a place in high society. Wharton’s concept of fate associated with Lily furthers the idea that Lily is trapped because of the predetermination of life and Lily’s upbringing culminate into Wharton’s trapped character of Lily Bart. The next time that Selden sees Lily again, it is on the train to Nice when he comments on her beauty: “[At the Brys’, Lily’s beauty] had had a transparency through which the fluctuations of the spirit were sometimes visible; now its impenetrable surface suggested a process of crystallization which had fused her whole being into one hard brilliant surface… to Selden it seemed like that moment of pause and arrest when the warm fluidity of youth is chilled into its final shape” (182). Wharton’s indirect characterization of Lily through Selden s...
... middle of paper ...
...it to love because she still desires money and power. Wharton creates Lily with her character flaw of indecisiveness to lead her down her fated path; she is trapped by her desire of association in society and longs for the freedom that love would bring.
Edith Wharton created The House of Mirth to mock the society that she lived in and gave Lily the negative traits associated with it. With these negative traits and Lily’s upbringing, Wharton creates a character that is trapped by her upbringing desire to have a permanent place in society but also yearns for love, expressed through Wharton’s characterization of Lily Bart, imagery associated with Lily, and the motif of Lily’s fatal flaw. The end result is Wharton’s fated demise of her heroine with neither love nor a position in society.
Wharton, Edith. The House of Mirth. Toronto: Bantam, 1986. Print.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth serves as a strict model of etiquette for high society in the Gilded Age. It teaches one the intricate art of keeping up appearances and assimilating into the fickle leisure class. At the same time, the novel’s underlying purpose is to subtly critique this social order. Lily Bart’s perpetual, although often reluctant quest for financial stability and mass approval is a vehicle for demonstrating the numerous absurdities and constant pretensions of a class that revolved around money and opinion.... [tags: Edith Wharton House Mirth Essays]
1725 words (4.9 pages)
- Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth creates a subtle, ironic, and superbly crafted picture of the social operation of turn-of-the-century New York. In her harsh expression of community, she succeeds in portraying a world of calculation operating under the pretenses of politeness. The characters become competitors in the highly complex game of social positioning with an amorphous body of socially formed laws. Through her presentation of Lily Barton's ongoing struggles to "recover her footing-each time on a slightly lower level" in this game of skill, Wharton forces her audience to question this social order (272).... [tags: House Mirth Essays Edith Wharton Essays]
2110 words (6 pages)
- Working Draft “For the first time in his life he sees her in a new light: he sees her as no longer the listless creature who had lived at his side in a state of self-absorption, but a mysterious alien presence an evil energy secreted from the long years of silent brooding…” (Wharton 117) Edith Wharton is best known for her books Ethan Frome and The House of Mirth. Wharton was often compared to another writer in her time, Henry James. Even though this occurred, she considered her books one of a kind.... [tags: Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome, Marriage, Wife]
920 words (2.6 pages)
- Edith Wharton’s novel of manners The House of Mirth is a satirical representation of upper society. The personification of this satire is the character Lily Bart. The leader is led to believe that Lily is trapped by her upbringing in higher society, which is seen in Wharton’s use of characterization, imagery, and motifs throughout the novel. Wharton’s characterization of Lily Bart focuses on her beauty as the reason for her acceptance into high society. During the tableaux vivants at the Welly Brys’, Lily’s simple costume was the main focus of the men at the party: “This was the world [Lily] lived in, these were the standards by which she was fated to be measured.... [tags: lily, society]
1183 words (3.4 pages)
- 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.... [tags: Irony in Realism]
1109 words (3.2 pages)
- Subjectivity in Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth presents an interesting study of the social construction of subjectivity. The Victorian society which Wharton's characters inhabit is defined by a rigid structure of morals and manners in which one's identity is determined by apparent conformity with or transgression of social norms. What is conspicuous about this brand of social identification is its decidedly linguistic nature. In this context, behaviors themselves are rendered as text, and the incessant social appraisal in which the characters of the novel participate is a process of deciphering this script of behavior.... [tags: House Mirth Essays]
1712 words (4.9 pages)
- ““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.... [tags: Literary Analysis]
1357 words (3.9 pages)
- Character of Seldon “He declared himself entirely at her disposal: the adventure struck him as diverting. As a spectator, he had always enjoyed Lily Bart; and his course lay so far out of her orbit that it amused him to be drawn for a moment into the sudden intimacy which her proposal implied.” Source: The House of Mirth, By Edith Wharton It should be noted that the role of Selden is highly important because it is a stock role in the novel of manners, and therefore helps in clearing and highlighting the unspoken conversation between people.... [tags: marriage, happiness, novel]
576 words (1.6 pages)
- Climbing up the Social Scale The time and way people are brought up in society makes a huge difference on how they will climb up the social scale in life. In the classic novel House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton and Call it Sleep, by Henry Roth the main characters experience totally different upbringings into society. While Lily Bart is brought up into a high class society, David is born into an immigrant family in a part of the city, which has similar people as his own country. The two characters in the novels both have different and some similar views on how to climb up on the social scale.... [tags: Compare contrast]
1309 words (3.7 pages)
- Visualize being at a lovely dinner in New York City during the early 20th century and scrutinizing some of the most affluent people the city has to offer. Edith Wharton was able to witness all of the arrogance in New York during this time and put those observations into her novel, The House of Mirth. Edith Wharton was born on January 24th, 1862 into a prosperous New York family. She lived in an expensive area of New York and was primarily educated by governesses and personal tutors (Olin 72). Her family inspired the phrase “Keeping up with the Joneses” (Lee 22).... [tags: The House of Mirth]
1143 words (3.3 pages)