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

The House of Mirth (Chapter One) - What impression of Lily Bart and the world she lives in does Edith Wharton give you at the outset of her novel?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Commentary: Edith Wharton - The House of Mirth (Chapter One) What impression of Lily Bart and the world she lives in does Edith Wharton give you at the outset of her novel? From Edith Wharton's introduction of 'The House of Mirth', we are able to view the purposes of this story, of which there are several. Edith Wharton shares her views about the type of society and when in which the story took place - how Lily is shaped by her society and how she is unable to get out of it, the gender issues present in the early twentieth century, and indirectly, Wharton's own criticisms about this social world. Even at the beginning of the story, Wharton already provides us with an insight into a world of aristocracy, and also the world in which she herself lived in, through the main characters, Lily Bart and Selden. She depicts Lily Bart as a wealthy, upper-class woman, with '...country houses that disputed her presence ...'. Wharton also presented us with the idea that the rich do not work, and are instead idle: Lily's 'late nights and indefatigable dancing', and both her and Selden's going out for tea on a busy Monday afternoon, when everyone else (the middle and lower classes) ...read more.

Middle

'The qualities distinguishing her from the herd of her sex were chiefly external' - this is an ironic statement, where in the previous quote he makes her seem differentiated and special, and now, this suggests that he thinks that women are all the same but what distinguishes Lily from other women, or even generally, women from each other, are their looks and their beauty. We can also tell that Selden regards Lily as an object where she has beauty, although it will not last, by referring to her beauty as a 'fine glaze'. Again this is good imagery, as one would imagine glaze to be worn off easily. And underneath that glaze - Lily's external beauty - lies 'vulgar clay', suggesting that Lily, without her physical appearance, would be rather ugly and rough on the inside. The words stringed together 'a fine glaze of beauty applied to vulgar clay' indicates that Selden thinks of Lily as a vase, something pretty, but with no real use in life. He feels that 'a great many dull and ugly people must have been sacrificed to produce her', contributing to the fact that he regards her as a manufactured object. ...read more.

Conclusion

This shows the differences between those with positions high up on the social ladder and those at the bottom. However Wharton has presented Lily with a contradictory view. Lily looks down upon women who do not have money, who have the independence and freedom to do whatever they want, who are 'ugly and unmarriageable'. However, at the same time, we sense admiration in Lily for these women as she herself feels that it is a priviledge to have independence and to own a flat, and 'what a miserable thing it is to be a woman!'. Wharton again presents us with an ironic issue. Lily feels that it is degrading for a woman to remain unmarried at a certain age. However, she herself is already twenty-nine years old. It was abnormal for women, during the early twentieth century, to remain unmarried, yet Lily was. She is this showing a rebellious streak in her along with that bit of independence that she craves. Edith Wharton has written this first chapter with conviction about the issues present in the earlier part of the twentieth century. She has portrayed the characters to play the roles that were evident during this time period, between class and gender, the issues and the contradictions. ...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. House of Mirth

    Gerty runs a "working girls club" that helps working class girls with their inevitable struggle against the oppression of poverty as wages slaves. There is no authentic middle ground in this novel, no middle class, reflecting perhaps, that in the 1890's the middle class was still rising and had not impinged on general consciousness.

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

    Simon Rosedale is a perfect example of this relationship that Wharton asserts and the passage in question also touches on this. Lily, however, is an oddity in this world as she so openly violates the moral and social conventions, which society expects.

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

    Nevertheless, the influence of either is the same. The use of 'too many' shows a pessimistic view on the winter and shows that the amount is quite exceeded; this states the force of the winter and its relationship with time.

  2. Has booze taken over our lives

    16-19 year olds in greater Glasgow get drunk at least once a week. Alcohol companies only add to the problem of underage drinking. Designer beverages and 'alcopops' are clearly aimed at the younger generation such as Bacardi Breezers and Jellies that contain shots of alcohol.

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

    Throughout The Age of Innocence, she uses the social interactions and attitudes of Newland Archer and his acquaintances as a means of weighing society itself. New land is the protagonist of the novel and his point of view governs the novels narration.

  2. Forster's examination of contemporaneous issues pervades the novel in multifarious layers - What is ...

    Edward, her successor, endorsed a policy to counteract the colossal expansion of Germany. This culminated in an impassioned xenophobia in both Britain and Germany. The epigraph 'Only connect...' Forster utilized may hint for his desire for interaction and co-operation between the two countries.

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

    relating it to the bigger picture and offering historical analysis of what was occurring to such families generally. Likewise, in 'The Age of Innocence' we get an overview of New York society whilst the focus remains throughout on one particular character, Newland Archer and it is through his 'lens of consciousness' that we view society.

  2. How does Wharton convey this sense of failure and confinement in “The Age of ...

    The narrator lets us know that Newland has no passion for his newly betrothed. Standing May side by side with Ellen, we can see the differences in them and why Newland has fallen for Ellen. Ellen is warm, passionate and romantic, while May, although portrayed as innocent and angel-like, is cold and without any passion.

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