Society Wasn’t Built In a Day: Societal Structure in The Age of Innocence

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"In metropolises it was 'not the thing' to arrive early at the opera; and what was or was not 'the thing' played a part as important in Newland Archer's New York as the inscrutable totem errors that had ruled the destinies of his forefathers thousands of years ago"-Edith Wharton The Age of Innocence

Societies, like houses and businesses are built a certain way. They each have a certain way of functioning and placing some people above others. Throughout history, there are plenty examples of this concept, the best of which lies within the feudal system of Medieval Europe. Feudalism started with the Lords, who owned the land on which their Vassals worked and lived. The vassals did not run the place, and were seen as part of the base of the societal structure that supported the Lords by working their land for them. The same idea is depicted in the society Edith Wharton writes of in The Age of Innocence. In The Age of Innocence, the highest rung on the ladder that is high New York society is made up of those who are very wealthy and have people who work for them, or have people looking up to them for advice and/or help. Those below the top of the ladder, while still having some people who look up to them, also have people above them who they need to go to for help and other services, and so on and so forth as you go down the ladder. Now, the higher someone is on that ladder, the more “pure” they must be in order to project a good image to those below them, meaning they must be

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