Importance Of The Upper Class In The House Of Mirth, By Edith Wharton

Great Essays
In the Gilded Age, the distinction between the upper and lower class were more prominent than other era in American history. While the lower class strives to attain the American Dream, the wealthy are immersed in luxurious amenities that blindside them to the societal issues around them. In The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton, Lily Bart is depicted as a fledgling socialite seeking to enter the upper echelons of the Gilded Age. However, her moral standards unfortunately restrain her ability to secure a more prominent social standing. Initially fixated on the obsession of marrying rich, Bart’s desire to fulfill the void left by her parents’ teachings makes her focus on society 's materialistic aspect. Struggling to find a place, Lily recognizes …show more content…
These families are tied to an exclusive society defined by not only the amount of wealth possessed but also social grace. The people in this society are without human morals because they care more about their economic standing then the well-being of others. Since Lily’s wealthy acquaintances befriended her solely when she was a her peak, they severed all ties when her reputation was later destroyed, revealing their artificial relationship. Judy Trenor’s husband, Gus Trenor, is known to give money to Carry Fisler in exchange for being his escort. Although these types of affairs are often kept secretive, Judy reveals that she knows about the affairs: “[Carry] borrows money of Gus--but then I 'd pay her to keep him in a good humour, so I can 't complain, after all” (39). Judy’s nonchalant attitude come from a sense of security in her own wealth. The upper elite sinks further into their protective shells of wealth because of the security that their wealth brings, and this affects Lily when she desperate for acceptance. For example, when Lily is in need of aid against Bertha Dorset’s false accusations, she is made an outcast due to society’s inability to do what is morally right. Within the aristocracy, women compete in “who presumed to give bigger dinners or have more amusing house-parties,” (40), thus emphasizing the unimportant aspects of life. Due to Lily’s inability to match these social expectations associated with money, she is left behind without thought. Edith Wharton delineates Lily as an outcast through the adversity she faces while depicting the upper class’s lack of empathy caused by monetary societal

Related Documents

  • Improved Essays

    Greed In The Great Gatsby

    • 1041 Words
    • 4 Pages

    She has an affair with Gatsby because of the money he has and what he can provide for her. Once again Daisy’s upbringing in East Egg plays a role in her actions as she chooses rich bachelors to pass the time with but stills tries to hang on to her relationship with Tom to preserve her East Egg image. Daisy abuses her power and wealth in order to avoid the consequences that soon followed Myrtle’s death. After Daisy accidentally kills Myrtle, she leaves with Tom and becomes untraceable with “no return address” (164). Daisy’s East Egg mentality leads her to believe that her actions have no consequences as she uses unmoral tactics to remove the cause of her husband’s unfaithfulness, with the wistful idea that Tom will later be loyal to her.…

    • 1041 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Gatsby ran underhanded ‘drug’ businesses to get his wealth then lies or never tells about how he got his money. And Myrtle wants to fit in and show off, but her husband George does not have lots of money so she turns to Tom to be her ‘sugar daddy’. "For example, Myrtle Wilson focuses on material possessions available to her from her lover, Tom Buchanan, but shows little regard for the lives disrupted by her extramarital affair with Tom" (Verderame). Myrtle, like many others, want what they want and do not think of anyone else affected. Her focusing on the material things she wanted left her husband feeling he could not do anything for her.…

    • 1189 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    She is indirectly corrupted in the way that she looks at wealth, only wanting to be with a rich man for her own good. This relates to how people start to have a different perspective of morals and values. In the text Tom states, “Nowadays people begin by sneering at family life and family institutions, and next they 'll throw everything overboard and have intermarriage between black and White"(137). Tom’s life has always been filled with money and a high social status. This leads to his corruption as he thinks he is superior than everyone not only because of his wealth but also from his belongings, Daisy.…

    • 1054 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    However, it is evident that she does not have any affection for her husband and his wealth is her only concern when she starts to question Walter Neff about life insurance. In a society whose individual’s actions are shaped by financial objectives, Phyllis intended to do whatever is needed to move herself up. Apart from planning to kill her husband, Phyllis also uses her attractiveness to lure gullible men by willingly flaunting her body to them. She believes that men’s lust can help her get what she wants in life. While Phyllis is planning a cruel action, she acts as though she has fallen in love with Walter and used her sexuality to get him on board with her plan.…

    • 731 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    This is a perfect example how Myrtle is materialistic because she doesn’t even show some excitement to the fact she got married she is so bothered by the fact George didn’t purchase a suit of his own. She views Tom as someone who can afford to buy his own suit for a wedding which is why she is so attracted to him. So she comes up with this plan that by sleeping with Tom she is hoping to inch her way into his lifestyle full of money, huge mansions, and fancy cars which destroys herself. Even when Myrtle is with Tom she likes to change her appearance so she can “fit the part” of a famous wealthy life. For instance, “She had changed her dress to a brown figured muslin, which stretched tight over her rather wide hips as Tom helped her to the platform in New York” (Fitzgerald 27).…

    • 1259 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Women in Pride and Prejudice needed to marry into rich families so their family name wouldn't be as Mrs. Bennet would say, ruined. However, some people who associated oneself with the upper-class thought it to be scandalous for one to marry into a class lower than the class he or she was currently in. Wickham was a man who was filled with manipulation and in the time period was considered very poor. He was a part of the lower class and lived off of gambling. His way of climbing up the social ladder was gambling away all of his money and once he found himself in debt, he tried to use his good looks to find a woman that was vacuous enough to marry him so he could inherit her family’s heritage.…

    • 1299 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Superior Essays

    In the gilded age of America, Lily Bart’s world draws a distinct line between the elites and the impoverished. While the lower class strives towards the American Dream, the wealthy are immersed in luxurious amenities that blindside them to societal issues. In the The House of Mirth, written by Edith Wharton, Lily Bart is depicted as a fledgling socialite seeking to enter the exclusive aristocracy of the gilded age; however Lily’s moral standards restrain her ability to obtain a secure, prominent social standing.Initially, she is fixated on the obsession of marrying rich, but this desire stems from her desire to fulfill the void left by her parents’ teaching her to focus on society 's materialistic aspect. Through the first half of the novel…

    • 1476 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, several characters commit wrongdoings, yet only the poor receive punishment; therefore, this imbalance portrays Fitzgerald’s thoughts of the wealthy’s power. Despite both women cheating on their husbands, Daisy Buchanan’s wealth shield’s her from repercussions, while the impoverished Myrtle faces a harsh punishment for her behavior. Further, Jay Gatsby and Meyer Wolfsheim both illegally obtain the majority of their money, yet Wolfsheim’s greater power protects him from experiencing an equal punishment to the consequences Gatsby faces. Finally, Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby both covet another man’s wife; however, Tom’s wealth gives him more of an influence, and he is unbothered with rules, while Gatsby receives punishment for his actions. The more wealth a person acquires, the more influential that person will become.…

    • 1495 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    When Beneatha’s family tries to coerce her into marrying Murchison purely for his money, she asserts, “Oh, I just mean I couldn’t ever really be serious about George. He’s- he’s so shallow” (Hansberry 839). While the Youngers believes Murchison is the best prospect for Beneatha, because of the impact his money can have on the poverty stricken family, Beneatha is honest about her feelings regarding Murchison and does not mollify her beliefs to please her family. Murchison’s money and influence do not change her opinion, instead, Beneatha chooses to follow her dreams and let her mindset dictate her future. During the same topic of controversy, with Beneatha and Ruth, Ruth retorts, “Well- what other qualities a man got to have to satisfy you, little girl?” (Hansberry 840).…

    • 985 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Kristine married another man and left her beloved man that she dreamed of because “his prospects seemed hopeless back then,” (95) Although their fake life she chose was recovered in the end, it almost didn’t work out because the true reason for this marriage is the seek of money. Once she comes back to Krogstad, she still wants to advantage from her previous experience without giving up from the job she took because of her previous husband. She thinks that life forced her to be like this a selfish woman thinking just about her own benefits “you have to live, and so you grow selfish” (52). This example proves that her all decisions are affected by Marxist attitude because of the economic situation she’s living in. This harsh economic system leads people to do things that are not accepted in morality and humanity.…

    • 1043 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays