• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Age of Innocence - Ultimately a study of failure and frustration

Extracts from this document...


"Ultimately a study of failure and frustration" How far and in what ways do you agree? "Ultimately a study of failure and frustration" implies that our views of the novel as a study of failure are only truly revealed at the end of the novel. This lays a heavy importance on the final sections of the novel and the consequences of the book over the actual actions. One can argue that due to Archer's suppression throughout the novel, and his apparent difference compared to other members of New York society, that the novel is effectively studying Newland Archer's failure of life and his frustration caused by the constraints of society. However, it can also be argued that society as a whole in New York did indeed have its place. After all, it was accepted by the majority and an aristocracy still exists in America today. This constitutes the fact that Newland's choices were not ones of frustration, but rational choices that can be defended. ...read more.


It is not only Newland's views that seem frustrated. Ellen is also being oppressed by the Old New Yorkers, and even doubts that there is any other place on earth where they could escape the judgement of others: "Oh, my dear - where is that country? Have you ever been there?" Her frustration has been so great toward the Old New Yorkers, she can now not conceive a place where this oppression will not occur. Her only hint of an act of kindness from the Old New Yorkers is her departure, but yet that is still seen as something that "had to be done" and "tribal", but at least "handsome and thorough". It has to be however, the final moments of the novel which highlight a real failure of Newland's. His ultimate decision to marry May Welland, and not take the more romantic, albeit dangerous route of divorce and going after the women he loves shows an ultimate failure in him to be happy, probably down to a frustration and oppression of the Old New York society. ...read more.


They also never seem to question "the propriety of Madame Olenska's conduct", or the "completeness of Archer's domestic felicity." This could mean a society which silently monitors life, and is used as a force for good, and a source of wisdom. However, in reality, what Wharton seems to be hinting at is a controlling organization which never questions, simply because the answers are ones that they do not wish to know. This shows a frustration that must be felt by the more liberal characters within the novel as these oppressive features of the Old New York society are prevalent throughout the novel. 'The Age of Innocence' is a novel of failure and frustration. The actions of Newland Archer are not actions that one would take out of choice or in normal circumstances. The liberal, young New Yorkers who wish to break away from the stagnating views of the aristocracy are constantly caused to fail by the prevailing forces of the Old New York society. This leads to a frustration which is evident in many of the main characters who are bogged down by tradition and culture. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Authors section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Authors essays

  1. The Romantic Hero in Goethe's Faust

    Faust's attitude towards nature further expresses his Romantic tendencies. Whereas Enlightenment scholars looked to nature for scientific information, Faust repeatedly refers to nature as a great mystery. "Great Nature, so mysterious even in broad day - Doesn't let you unveil her, plead as you may" (lines 692-93).

  2. Frailty, thy name is woman(TM)(TM) A.C Bradley has judged Gertrude to be a weak ...

    Much of her dialogue is in the form of questions such as ''Why, how now, Hamlet?''

  1. Sympathy for the betrayers and the betrayed. Cresseid and Madame Bovary are dissimilar ...

    Homais's haughtily flamboyant speeches are used by Flaubert to display the pretensions of the bourgeois. The less grandiose act by a woman who received a 25 franc award for 54 years of service giving 'it to our cur� so he can say some masses for me' leads the reader not

  2. Colonial literature from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries has made a large impact on ...

    The first act of providence was on the seaman. There was a strong, able body seaman who always cursed and condemned the poor sick people on the ship, wishing them to be cast overboard. God then intervened and revealed the seaman's fate. Bradford wrote, " But it pleased God before they came half seas over, to smite this young

  1. Write a character study of Celie, Albert, and Shug.

    During most of her life Celie was under the control and influence of her pa and Albert. This was to the extent that Celie was only able to call Albert by his name only at the end of the book. During most of the time she names him as "Mr.

  2. Attitudes to Marriage and Women in Chopin and Gilman

    It may be true that the immediate cause of the narrator's descent into madness is her obsession with the wallpaper in her room, but there are enough clues in the text which suggest that it is marriage which drives her into her obsession with the wallpaper in the first place.

  1. Moll Flanders: From Innocence to Maturity

    Later, she marries the younger brother and gives birth to 2 children. We see Moll starts to become self-sufficient through this phase of life. She understands that if she wants to get herself as a respectable woman in the society, she requires the identity of being married to a gentleman.

  2. How does Edith Wharton present New York society in the first chapter of the ...

    Wharton uses a sarcastic tone to highlight the irony of the upper class pretending to abide by the rules of etiquette, when they would really prefer to relax. Even more so, the superficial nature of society is clearly shown as the wealthy had the press praising them by calling them

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work