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

Discuss Wharton’s presentation of the character development of Newland Archer in this excerpt, commenting on relationships, conflict, irony and social attitudes.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Discuss Wharton's presentation of the character development of Newland Archer in this excerpt, commenting on relationships, conflict, irony and social attitudes. The character of Newland Archer is presented in this passage through his meditations on a range of issues. The scene is set directly after an Archer family dinner with a friend, Sillerton Jackson. Archer's reflections give us a glimpse into the way he thinks and the sort of person he is. Initially we learn about Archer himself and his background, he is from a wealthy family, with ever "vigilant " servants, "bronze" statuettes and his own study. We can also see from the description of the study that he is cultured, intelligent and well read. The passage allows us to see a little of his history, especially of the tale of his romance with May Welland. Her "large photograph" has displaced all others on his table, signifying that she and no other is first in his affections. Archer's view of their impending marriage is initially that he will be her "soul's custodian", showing that it will be a very traditional relationship, that she is na�ve compared to him, and that he must protect and enlighten her. ...read more.

Middle

He sees her as partly as an " artificial product" produced by her family, her up bringing, making her innocent and frank. He feels this is wrong that she has somehow been denied the right to be a full person, as she has been denied the experience of life, social, cultural and sexual, that he has been allowed to explore. He feels what has been created in her personality is false, but somehow we get the impression that this is something that has been hard for him to come across. He sees her as less than him intellectually, as she is not educated as he has been, in the arts and literature, and therefore senses her comprehension is less, when really it may just be her lack of exposure to his amount of learning. Newland Archer's relationship with the women soon to be his cousin through his impending marriage to May, Ellen Olenska, is that this point in the novel, still slight. He knows her partially through acquaintance but mostly through gossip. The way he thinks of her as "Countess" shows the distance and formality between them and he does believe that she has done something reprehensible that requires "championship". ...read more.

Conclusion

The irony betrayed by Edith Wharton's' tone in the presentation of the conscious thoughts of Newland Archer shows the slightly ridiculous nature of New York society. The situation Archer is in regarding his own defence of Countess Olenska is ironic, as he would be forced to condemn May should she ever behave similarly to her cousin. Another irony in the passage is the description of the state of typical New York high society marriages as having an "enviable ideal" when frankly they are in a pitiable state. Lefferts is described as the "high priest of form" when really he has no substance or true beliefs and is truly hypocritical, especially in regard to his treatment of Beaufort's affairs. The behaviour of Mrs Welland's simulated reluctance at the announcement of the engagement when really she expected it is sarcastically commented on showing the double standards between what is said and what is expected throughout New York society. Edith Wharton uses conflicting ideas within Newland Archer's mind to effectively present a man who is changing and developing into a deeper way of thinking about his own life and society in general. ?? ?? ?? ?? Kathryn Oliver - 1 - ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology 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 GCSE Sociology essays

  1. Changing attitudes to marriage

    at home, doing all the housework- women prefer to go out to work, be able to earn money. As the marriage is no more reliable, women started consider their future where they can rely only on themselves and so planning to be able to support themselves.

  2. How Is The Harshness Of Community Life In Starkfield Conveyed By Edith Wharton?

    It also gives us the idea of the winter's affect slowly eating up a person's personality; or cutting them off from the society. The landscape has a similar affect on the residents in this rural town. Wharton tells us the villages were quite separated from each other. "...scattered mountain villages..."

  1. The development of Spartan society.

    The educational system of Sparta was significant and central to the development of the 'paidiskoi' (youths) within Spartan society. However, there remained a prejudiced attitude towards the academic education of women. 'Sparta is the only state which had a strict routine of athletic education for their girls.'15 In essence, the

  2. Edith Wharton was born Edith Newbold Jones to parents who had a proud position ...

    From the beginning of the novel Archer is presented as both an insider ans an outsider of his social world. He is completely aware of the social codes of New York and follows them unquestioningly but he also smiles at them and regards them with a certain amount of tolerant irony.

  1. "Compare the presentation of the exploitation of women in "Memoirs of a Geisha" by ...

    At this time most women were regarded to be of a lower social status than men and were to be seen rather than heard. Unless powerful like Niang, many were given orders and had to obey and adhere to them.

  2. Both John Steinbeck's 'The Grapes of Wrath' and Edith Wharton's 'The Age of Innocence' ...

    And perhaps they might not have been eternally happy had they eloped together. By the end of the novel, Archer is contemplative about his decision; understanding maybe that he was better off staying within New York's social boundaries. As touched upon above, the possibility remains that Archer might not have

  1. Compare 'The Genius' by Frank O'Conor and 'The Son's veto' by Thomas Hardy considering ...

    Both sons' are more intelligent than their mothers. They look down on them because they think they are brighter. There is no evidence that Larry goes to a public school, he is naturally bright and feels his mother is misleading. Randolph's education was planned and he feels he is able to correct his mother's grammatical errors.

  2. Clientelism, Tribalism, and Ethnic Conflict in Africa are Not the Result of Tradition and ...

    I believe through looking at African society in its modern context and studying empirical data that it is evident to determine whether the three main themes of this essay where present before or a after product. What is not so clear however is the complex linkages between and the contexts they operate in.

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