Allusions In Edith Wharton's The House Of Mirth

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From exterior appearance, a Russian nesting doll may appear to be one wooden figure. However inside the figure is an array of wooden dolls that are fixed in decreasing size. Allusions bear a similar concept, as they may appear to have one central idea, but the idea can reference to much deeper meanings within. The usage of allusions can allow readers to grasp the author’s message clearer and also add depth and layers to the novel. In The House of Mirth, author Edith Wharton alludes to Mythology and the Bible to emphasize characterization and provide a more profound understanding to the overall novel. The main protagonist Lily Bart is portrayed as an embodiment of beauty, as men are captivated by her alluring presence. Selden, a middle-class …show more content…
The title is alluded from the Bible Chapter Ecclesiastes and portrays the meaning that only fools dwell in the house of mirth (King James Bible). This verse specifically applies to the main protagonist Lily Bart, as she is never satisfied with her position in life and always desires for superior things. Lily is inhabited in the house of mirth, or simply the house of pleasure, as she acknowledges that she is “fashioned to adorn and delight” (Wharton 245). The allusion also justifies the characterization of Lily throughout the novel, as she never received the opportunity to enter the house of the wise due to her foolish and irrational perspective of life. Although materialistic luxuries and power may appear dazzling to Lily, she has betrayed and hurt many people along the way for her own greed. However Lily shows a change in personality in the last few concluding chapters, as she resolves to give up her revenge on Bertha Dorset and tosses the letters into the fireplace. This action creates an open door for Lily to enter the “house of the wise,” as she has symbolically thrown out her sense of greed. Wharton shows the development and maturity of Lily’s character throughout the novel, as Lily by the end, realizes the true meaning of

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