Cliques/Groups, Scapegoats, and Exclusion: the High Society of New York in the Age of Innocence

1398 Words Dec 20th, 2007 6 Pages
In the current time, there are all kinds of groups/cliques. There are: the jocks, the nerds, and the goths in high school, and the upper class, the middle class, and the poor in society. Each of these groups has their own set of customs/rules that are followed. None of these rules are written. They are just understood. If an outsider comes to a clique and doesn't follow their rules, the group excludes them. If a member of a clique does something wrong, then the clique uses that person as a scapegoat "in order to alleviate dissension and restore harmony within its ranks".(Girard 365) The same things happen in Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence. The high society of New York, a.k.a. the New York 400, selects certain members of the …show more content…
He had messed up big time. Regina had also messed up in going to see Catherine Mingott and asking her to stand behind both her and Beaufort.( ) They are both used as scapegoats. After the crash, the Beauforts are out of the circle of society: ". . . between these victims and the community a crucial social link is missing, so they can be exposed to violence without fear of reprisal. Their death does not automatically entail an act of vengeance. . ."(Girard 365) In the case of the Beauforts, the death is their exclusion from society after the crash. Since everyone looked down on Beaufort already, no one was willing to stand by him and Regina. The New York 400 used the Beauforts as examples of what happens to people who tarnish their reputation. Along with the scapegoats of groups, there are also those that are excluded off the bat. In The Age of Innocence, Ellen Olenska, an European Countess, is one of those people that are excluded. The New York 400's apparent disapproval is seen in many scenes. One such scene is the refusal to the dinner party scene. Catherine Mingott decides to hold a dinner party to introduce some of the members of the New York 400 to Ellen Olenska. Needless to say, it didn't turn out well: "New York Society was, in those days, far too small, and too scant in its resources, for everyone in it (including livery-stablemen, butlers and cooks) not to know exactly which evenings people were free; and it was thus

Related Documents