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

House of Mirth

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

House of Mirth Edith Wharton in her introduction to House Of Mirth, reprinted in 1936, writes; " It seems like going back to the Pharaohs to try to re-enter the New York world in which House Of Mirth originated" (iv). Wharton adds that the New York of the 1890s' was a "hot house of traditions and conventions...these traditions and conventions were unassailed and tacitly regarded as unassailable" (vi). Wharton was raised in New York and the social values of the society that are depicted in House of Mirth are authentic values of the affluent New Yorker that she socialized with. Stephen Crane author of The Red Badge of Courage was also from a well-to do background (he was the son of Methodist minister in well-heeled Asbury Park, New Jersey) and if Wharton drew her materials directly from the life she observed first hand, Crane wrote with the perspective of an outsider. The Red Badge of Courage has been referred to as the first American War Novel, set in the Civil War, and Crane had no first hand experience of that war. (Fine 50). House of Mirth is then a study of a society wherein Whartons' central characters belong to an elite society with firm rules of behavior and conduct. Paying close attention to these rules and rituals, Edith Wharton was able to create convincing societies in her novels and stories that were as scathing as they were accurate. Addressing issues of gender, Whartons' feminine protagonist Lily Bart demonstrates what a waste it is for a woman to have no personal sense of self-worth and no personal goals outside of those attainable through men. ...read more.

Middle

With this superficial irony, the persistence of racial typecasting pervades and reveals the Jew as coarse and lascivious. Again, the Semite is drawn from the upper class of New York, (not from the immigrant ghettos) and Rosedale is a familiar and comfortable character of social fiction. This portrait of Rosedale shows the persistence of the old Shylock stereotype and the fear of the Jewish oligarchy. As a generalisation, the currency of women is traded in their marriageability. The class of women for whom marriage no rescue from poverty or wage-slave oppression is represented by Nettie Cran, whom Lily meets through her association with Gertie and her charitable work. Nettie is sent to a sanatorium by Lily, to recover from TB, and towards the end of Lily's life, they meet up again. Lilys remembers her thus "as one of the discouraged victims of over-work and anaemic parentage, one of the superfluous fragments of life destined to be swept prematurely into that social refuse-heap of which Lily has so recently expressed her dread" (341). Nettie takes Lily home, and explains the happiness she has found with her husband George, whom she had known all her life. Nettie had become involved with men whom she presumed "was too stylish for me" and when he left her because "work girls aren't looked after" she became ill (p343). Lily feels a kinship with Nettie and assesses that Netties' life has a completeness that her own would never have. The connection between them has come about because of their economic situation although Netties' future is more promising. ...read more.

Conclusion

Henrys growth in maturity occurs as he reconciles his masculine perceptions of heroic behaviour with defining moments of weak character and as such the masculine motifs of the novels are stereotypical but not diminished by that. In conclusion, House of Mirth is a novel of beliefs and attitudes that like the camera snap shots the cultural milieu of the upper class New Yorker. Lily's failure to mature as an autonomous woman may stem from the patriarchal repression of her class. Whilst Lily is at times insightful and profound, she is also trivial, overly preoccupied with her appearance and loyal to ideals of patriarchal femininity, and she does not mount the challenge to rationality and order that she needs to survive. This is in contrast to Henry Flemming who seeks in the order of nature finds an answer to the threatening havoc. His intellect demands both a rational an emotional plateau to develop himself. Although very different in most aspects, they have both the rationality of emotional responses to the constraints of circumstance, and take responsibility for their existence and problems. It is no surprise that Lilys escape becomes the traditional feminie one of death ( a change from madness), sick and weakened by her behaviour that for the most part has been misunderstood. Henry however, clearly views himself as someone who has improved and matures through his experiences, although it is not conclusive that either has occurred. If manliness were defined by actions, then deserting in battle, or abandoning the badly injured 'tattered man' would seem to be Henry's undoing. The Red Badge of Courage is a rite of passage from boy to man as much as an account of men at war. ...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. The House of Mirth (Chapter One) - What impression of Lily Bart and the ...

    Men were then considered to be superior to women. Wharton succeeded in doing this by making Selden seem heroic, and Lily, put into the position of the damsel in distress, and though their use of chivalric language: 'how nice of you to come to my rescue!'; and Selden flirting back, 'to do so is my mission in life'.

  2. The House of Mirth - Personal Freedom Over Society's Will.

    Wharton accurately shows how men have almost an innate desire to accumulate material wealth, but that wealth is more or less useless unless they 'accumulate' a woman who will extend a man's power beyond the commercial world into the society at large.

  1. Compare and contrast the portrayal of Indian marriages in the stories 'The Old Woman' ...

    She wants' - a calculated pause - everything'." If brides do not bring the expected or set amount of dowry with them, in some rural areas, the whole family often mistreats them, as is shown in "The Old Woman", "because she had no parents and was married off by her

  2. Ocean Ridge Golf and Country Club - target marketing

    III Objectives and Strategies The objectives of Ocean Ridge are very much like those of other prestigious country clubs around. First is to create a club so diverse in its activities offered and services rendered; not sacrificing quality of service at any point, that broad of a range of offerings until now was deemed impossible by other clubs in operation.

  1. Do a detailed critical analysis of the opening of Coetzee's Foe, paying particular attention ...

    His first attack on Defoe's novel appears early on. ' " For readers reared on travellers' tales, the words desert isle may conjure up a place of soft sands and shady trees where brooks run to quench the castaways thirst...But the

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

    "...scattered mountain villages..." The use of 'scattered' and 'mountain' can explain that the isolation increased because of the difficulty of having to go around. Therefore, people would have found it extremely difficult in winter to get about, as there was the snow and the mountainous regions to overcome.

  1. The ancient civilizations of Central and South America

    The Spanish themselves never had the good fortune of discovering the city. 6 The Inca Empire lasted for almost 100 years, but a decline in this great civilization was inevitable. This occurred when the Spanish arrived into the area in search of gold, loot, plunder, and any other riches that they could find.

  2. Introduction to Fiction Final Paper.

    Fenstad's mother pleaded for enlightened behavior and berated the dictators for their bad political habits." (p.116). Fenstad's mother is hopeful and didactic"Eleanor was Fenstad's ex-wife. They had been divorced for a decade, but Fenstad's mother hoped for a reconciliation", " This hopefulness and didacticism he had picked from his mother" (pp.116,117).

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