The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton Essay

1844 Words 8 Pages
Image is considered everything even in today’s society, because a person only gets to give a first impression one time when they meet someone new. One mistake can either ruin the persons reputation or have them viewed in a horrible fashion for the rest of there time with that particular group. A person is to dress their best, be their best, to show society that they are indeed the best. For example in the book May dresses up to meet Mrs. Carfry even though the party is not as formal as she suspected, because she did not want to appear as a savage. Even though Newland explains to her that it will be a small event she is determined to show them how much better she could be then them. It is to show her power, wealth, and also status …show more content…
“In a sense she tried to escape the vexations of the post-war years by commemorating a culture that she had known as a child” (McDowell 59.) Edith herself reported, “I found a momentary escape in going back to my childish memories of a long vanished America and wrote The Age of Innocence” (Bloom 102.) She uses her knowledge on how society views the people of its culture to create the scenes throughout the novel, such as in the begging when Newland mentions that “It is not the thing to arrive early at the Opera” (Wharton 6.) There are strict rules throughout society that must be followed such as who a person is allowed to marry. Wharton has personal experience in society’s role in marriage through her failed engagement to a wealthy young man. In 1880 Harry Stevens proposes to Edith Jones only to have it broken off two years later, because the mother did not approve of the engagement. Harry Stevens’s mother objected to the engagement for their “difference in status of the two families.” (McDowell 2) There is a similar occurrence in the novel between Ellen and Newland when he says, “I want somehow to get away with you into a world where worlds like that- categories like that-wont exist. Where we shall be simply two human beings… nothing else will matter” (Wharton 235.) They cannot be together for it will cause a mockery to both the families involved. Her own experience is

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