Essay House of Mirth Analysis

4279 Words Oct 6th, 2014 11 Pages
The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence: The Lives and Struggles of New York’s Upper Class

Among the collection of works by American author Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence are considered to be two of her most widely recognized. Both books explore similar themes that showcase the lives and struggles of New York’s upper class, and have both received considerable acclaim and accolade (Killoran 2001, p.26, 93). This paper sets out to deconstruct the themes and discourse of both novels and compare each individual work’s merits and their collective ability to convey an understanding for the lives of New York’s upper class in the late 19th century. Furthermore, it will draw upon undertones in each novel that
…show more content…
She considers marriage as a means of securing financial status, initially as a means of attaining her desired status in society and consequently as a tool for reinstating herself back into society.
Throughout the novel, Lily struggles to retain vestiges of herself in a sea of torrential social expectations. It can be argued that it has always been in Lily’s power to rise from her own misfortunes. Lily’s physical beauty in the novel symbolizes the support upon which she establishes herself in New York’s upper class society. Lily, as with any other woman of her ranks, is measured by such standards of aesthetic and hence, her exceptional beauty gives her a significant advantage in society. This has been directly noted throughout the novel. Despite the fact that Lily herself perceives deterioration in her beauty, it is evident through the discourse of third parties in the novel that Lily’s beauty is everlasting (Wharton 1905, p.316). Lily’s beauty, it seems, is a symbol of her ability to rise among the ranks in her social circle, and the fact remains that though it stands strained and eroded by the end of her dissent, it is not altogether lost. This shows that if she so chooses, there is still a way for Lily to regain her social status. Her beauty was “the nucleus around which [her] life was to be

Related Documents