The House of Mirth, written by Edith Wharton, depicts the social system and how it functioned during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Through looking at the social rise and fall of Lily Bart, the protagonist, one can see how education, gender, and social status determine value and success. By the evident contrast between upper class and lower class values in the novel, the theme of performance is illuminated. Each character in the novel is performing—Lily, especially—and does so as a way of socially furthering themselves. This is due to the fact that in the novel, social status determines value; value increases as social status increases. This idea of performance correlating with social status and personal value aligns with Louis Althusser’s thesis regarding ideology: ideology is determined before birth and is performed. Ideology forms as soon as one is addressed and responds; Lily responds “yes” to each person who addresses her, but each address puts her in a different performance, causing her to be a reciprocal of these ideologies. Lily faces an internal conflict of which ideology she belongs to: was she pre-determined with an upper class ideology, or lower class ideology? Is she the person who is addressed by Percy Gryce, or Nettie Struther? This ideological struggle is conveyed most clearly when she interacts with Lawrence Selden, who challenges her values and beliefs. Two versions of Lily exist within the novel that perform and speak to each ideology. In “Ideology
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In Edith Wharton’s novel Ethan Frome, setting is an important element. The setting greatly influences the characters, transportation, and activities.
Wharton takes the much-admired upper crust of society and exposes them, not in a hurtful world, but an objectively world. Wharton writes: "I've come to the conclusion that I don't in the least know what they are," said Mrs. Ansley. "And perhaps we didn't know much more about each other."(780) This one passage serves as a direct commentary on both the bonds of friendship and family life. Wharton's language is objective, straightforward. The character speaks these alarming
Throughout the course of history, social hierarchies have existed across the globe, spanning from prince to pauper or business tycoon to lowly scrivener. Authors, in turn, have written works regarding social class, often examining the negative effects of societal structure on personal growth. Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre takes place in Victorian England, in the age of industry and genesis of industrial capitalism. The novel’s protagonist, Jane, first lives a life of neglect, then a life in poverty, and eventually finds her happy ending. Through Jane’s personal experiences and interactions with fellow characters, Brontë analyzes the effects of social class. Professor Chris Vanden Bossche’s article analysis “What Did ‘Jane Eyre’ Do? Ideology, Agency, Class and the Novel” examines social inclusion and monetary pressures placed on the central characters during this pivotal era of English history. Through the Marxist lens, Jane Eyre can be understood in terms of complexity and character motives. Vanden Bossche effectively argues that external forces, like money and people, both motivate and repress Jane into choosing her own path. Thus, a more developed explanation is made for Jane’s various behaviors regarding social inclusion and societal rebellion.
A Doll’s House and The Importance of Being Earnest were both written in the late nineteenth century at a period in time when gender roles in society were not only significant to the structure of society but were restrictive and oppressive to individuals. This was particularly true in the case of women who were seen as the upholders of morals in polite society and were expected to behave accordingly. A Doll’s House and The Importance of Being Earnest challenge society and its inclination to categorise and expect certain behaviour of individuals based on their gender.
William Dean Howells was an advocate of realism in writing; he believed that literary art should reflect the reality of the common man and demonstrate the truth of everyday current issues. He believed in truthful writing and he accepted very little at face value. He practiced this belief in his own writing, and his story called “Editha” is a good example of this. In this ironic tragedy, W.D. Howells shows the truth and nature of war. He uses a combination of metaphoric characters, irony, and the pathos appeal to create an almost grotesque parody of the reality of war. In final analysis, Howells is successful in highlighting the consequences of war and inspiring the audience to question the wisdom of those who advocate armed conflict.
Women in society sometimes are subject to objectification, meaning they are treated as a mere object; unequal to men. In the novel, The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton, this holds true, except, women are said to be equal to men, but are not treated in this exact manner. Lily is apart of the upper class society of New York and attends parties, gambles all her money, and throughout the whole book tries to marry a rich man. Wharton’s feminism is apparent in the way she treats Lily; Lily gets through society, merely by keeping up her appearances. Beauty and appearance are everything in this society, if you are beautiful you will get far in society, however, the only thing Lily is lacking is wealth. In the novel, feminism is present with the idea of appearances and the symbol of money is used to convey that men are needed to control a women’s social stability.
“There was no way out- none. He was a prisoner for life, and now his one ray of light to be extinguished”(Wharton 29). Miserable routines caused by terrible occurrences trappes Ethan Frome every single day. Edith Wharton opposes the idea of following any routine. Wharton expresses that routines and cycles prevent a person from expressing their own desires or achieving their personal goals in life. These cycles prohibit a person from seeing changes within their environment and possible opportunities that could improve their life. Even if a person breaks free from a routine, an endless amount of reasons exist to pull them back in. Ethan Frome momentarily escapes from his daily routine to pursue his education, but not far into this break he has to return in order to help his family. Ethan Frome somehow found a way out of his miserable routine, but failed to take that exit; resulting in a life much worse than before. Finding a way out seems like a reasonable solution to escape bad situations, but taking such a great risk to completely change one’s entire life, seems nearly impossible for any citizens of Starkfield. In the novella, Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton exemplifies how routines deny a person from reaching their full potential through the constant pull Ethan and other members of Starkfield receive to follow their normal, average routine and not follow their desires.
The life of a lady in the 19th century is painted in a romantic light. Pictured in her parlor, the lady sips tea from delicate china while writing letters with a white feathered quill. Her maid stands silently off in the background, waiting for orders to serve her mistress. What is not typically pictured, is the sadness or boredom echoed on the lady’s face. Perhaps the letter is to a dear friend, not seen in ages, pleading with the friend to visit, in hopes that the friend will fill the void in the lady’s life made from years spent in a loveless marriage; or possiblyk20 the lady isn’t writing a letter at all, but a novel or a poem, never to be read by anyone but her. Edith Warton and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, are 19th Century ladies who dare to share their writing with the world. Through their works, the darker side of a woman’s life in the late 1800’s is exposed. Gender politics in the 19th dictates that a lady is dependent on her husband for her financial security and social standing; that is if she is fortunate enough to marry at all. In Edith Warton’s The House of Mirth, Lily Bart is a beautiful woman in her late 20’s, who fails to marry a wealthy man. The narrator in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper slowly goes insane under her physician husbands misguided attempts to cure her of depression. The downfall of Lily Bart and the narrator of The Yellow Wallpaper is
While both the “Invisible Man” and “The House of Mirth” were written near the same time frame, they were written in differing perspectives, reflecting not only social classes but also gender roles of the time period. At the time these books were written, men and women had very different roles in society. Women were in the midst of a long arduous battle of the women suffrage movement and as they gained ground in this fight the gender roles started to change along with the country: “Westward expansion also demanded that many women step outside prescribed gender roles and perform “men’s” work on the frontier” (Jolliffe 1). Men, on the other hand, had a battle of their own trying to defend their masculinity during the movement of women into new social ranks, “masculinity in the United States is certain only in its uncertainty; its stability and sense of well-being depend on a frantic drive to control its environment.” (Stryffeler 4) The struggles of this dynamic time period are expressed through the eyes of these two authors giving readers an idea of how women were viewed differently from men surrounding the gender and social issues that dominated history.
The Victorian Era was known for its propriety, and for its social standards that could be as strict as the caste system in India. Citizens in England of low social regard faced many prejudices and limitations that could be almost insurmountable to overcome. Much like the caste system, people considered to be the dregs of society were often alienated and had little room for opportunity. In Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre, the main character, Jane, suffers social prejudice because she is a simple governess, revealing much about the social stigmas about the working class during the Victorian Era. Jane’s social status limits her not only from being with the one she loves, but also hinders her endeavor to achieve true autonomy.
Because of Wharton's slight deviation from naturalistic conventions, a literary debate exists among critics as to the validity of viewing The House of Mirth as a novel which embodies
Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth is an affront to the false social values of fashionable New York society. The heroine is Lily Bart, a woman who is destroyed by the very society that produces her. Lily is well-born but poor. The story traces the decline of Lily as she moves through a series of living residences, from houses to hotel lodgings. Lily lives in a New York society where appearances are all. Women have a decorative function in such an environment, and even her name, Lily, suggests she is a flower of femininity, i.e. an object of decoration as well as of desirability to the male element. We see this is very true once Lily's bloom fades, as it were, a time when she
"The House of the Seven Gables" is a romantic novel set in a grand and rustic, old house with seven
In Charlotte Bronte’s novel, Jane Eyre, Bronte seemingly condemns the existing social hierarchy. Not only are the characters who are most concerned with the allure of fortune and rank portrayed as either deceitful or unethical, but even characters who’ve accepted their means of poverty and demonstrate honest moral natures are mocked. Rather than use the normal class structures, the book suggests that a person of impoverished means can be viewed as socially respectable with the condition that they maintain a sincere desire to better both oneself and their means of living.
In the early 19th century, social class or status was everything to individuals back then. Social status was everything to people, just by saying they were better than others. Also, by saying they were “higher statuses” than one another was such a huge deal back then, which higher statues and ranks were about how had money and who didn’t. As people say history repeats itself, I believe that, for instance, nowadays people are always trying to outdo one another. Edith Wharton expressed a variety of different dimensions throughout House of Mirth, which included social, cultural, political, economic. Edith Wharton elaborates a story about Lily Barton, a young lady in her mid 20’s, who is continuously trying to achieve social statuses while dealing with other life struggles. She struggles trying to find someone rich to marry and ends up not being able to become wealthy either. When she struggles to try and find who she wants to marry she tends to get discourage and ends up putting herself in a serious amount of debt that she is unable to pay back. While in debt, she has trouble sleeping, and starts taking medicine to help with this problem. When she had enough money to pay off this debt she uses it to her advantage and pays off all her debt, however why paying off her debts Lily was still taking her sleeping pills and ends up over dosing, which causes her to die. After, this short summary of House of Mirth, did Lily social status affect her life? Did her social status actually