Age Of Innocence By Edith Wharton: An Analysis

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The book titled ‘Age of Innocence’, by Edith Wharton, is set during the late 1800s in New York after the First World War. This era was one of rapid change, which was a good catalyst in shaping the direction of the novel. It was a time of social distinction, emerging rich industrialist, new money and fashion excess. Wharton uses Newland as the limited-omniscient third person as he is the very expression of what the society of the day represents. He is well bred, understands and respects his role in society and he is a consummate idealist for societal norms and practices. The ironic use of the innocence; as viewed through the use the limited-omniscient third person, provides a unique platform from which to analyze the nuances of the book.
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The narrator uses the limited-omniscient third person voice, to hide the fact that she is inadvertently shining a light on the hypocrisy of society. Knowing that to voice this sentiment at this time, and as a woman would have been detrimental to her future, her social standing and she may have even been vilified. The third person voice also offers the reader the opportunity to view May as the wide eyed dolt as seen through the eyes of Newland, it inexplicably hides her subtle and overt control of much of the direction of the life of Newland. This is evidenced through May’s response to Archer in the dialogue; ‘I shall never worry if you are happy’ (Wharton 208) – this line offers a true glimpse of who May really is, that who is clearly hidden from Newland. May’s comments hides a more complex nature. A nature that is perhaps manipulative, and controlling that is focused on her own happiness and her own wellbeing at the expense of Newland’s happiness. A second glimpse into the true May that is hidden is seen on page 208, as evidenced by ‘his wife’s face brightened, but she instantly answered: “Oh, you’d much better go alone.” (Wharton 208). This statement and the use of her face brightening, hides the fact that May was instrumental in charting the direction of Newland’s pursuit of Ellen, a pursuit that would go nowhere. The limited-omniscient third person voice therefore hides a carefully crafted …show more content…
This is noted by the contrasts of people in the society’s deceptive nature, and how it contradicts the title of them being represented as the Age of Innocence. Newland Archer, the perceived gentleman, fantasizes of his wife’s death; ‘wishing her dead, was so strange, so fascinating and overmastering’ (Wharton 207), and an extramarital affair with Ellen. In fact the irony emerges where he is forced to stay with a woman who has the brought him into a lifeless state, however dreams of being with a woman condemned by society and completely goes against the Societal standard of a

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