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The House of Mirth- Lily Bart's dilemma

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Henry Wilson (The House of Mirth) 10/09/2012 From the very beginning of the novel, Lily feels stuck between what she thinks her role in society is and what society has dictated on her. She always had this desire to revolt against this dictatorship of society, but whenever she tries to do so she ends up sabotaging her image by doing things that her society doesn?t approve; Lily lives her entire life putting a lot of focus and effort in meeting her aunt?s upbringing and expectations of her. Lily?s upbringing and training have instructed her that she must work towards the goal of marrying a wealthy man and performing the social activities that are expected of a woman in her social status. This idea was further demonstrated when Lily had a conversation with Selden as they were having tea together in his apartment after having met at the train station; she says: "My aunt is full of copy-book axioms, but they were all meant to apply to conduct in the early fifties. ...read more.


During Lily?s meetings with Selden, she gets exposed to Selden?s ?republic of spirit? which she thought would allow her to resolve this inner conflict between her morals and her goals, and eventually end up a man she truly loves, regardless his wealth or his status. This idea of ?republic of spirit? made Lily delve with her thinking and imagine who she could have been if her upbringing and social influences where different. But even that conflicted with the reality she was living and how she perceived her very own intelligence that would have empowered Lily enough to achieve the degree of personal freedom she desired. This idea is validated in one of Lily?s meetings with Selden; she says: ?My genius? Is there any final test of genius but success? And I certainly haven?t succeeded.? (67) ...read more.


"I have tried hard--but life is difficult, and I am a very useless person. I can hardly be said to have an independent existence. I was just a screw or a cog in the great machine I called life, and when I dropped out of it I found I was of no use anywhere else. What can one do when one finds that one only fits into one hole? One must get back to it or be thrown out into the rubbish heap--and you don't know what it's like in the rubbish heap!? (300) Throughout the novel, I could see an urge by the society that required Lily and women in general to react rather that act. I feel that Lily constantly becomes the victim and everything she attempts to do according to her morals seems to turn against her especially in the framework of her society?s rules. ...read more.

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