The Van Der Luydens: Epitome of High Class Essay

632 Words Dec 6th, 2009 3 Pages
The Van Der Luydens: Epitome of High Class

In the Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, there are many characters that represent old New York society. It was one of many rules and in itself had a built in hierarchy. At the top of this group were Mr. and Mrs. Henry Van Der Luyden. Their appearances are rare, which in most novels leaves the reader without a clear understanding of the character, but in this case more than enough information is provided to show that they were the crème de la crème of high class New Yorkers.
At the end of chapter six, the narrator describes the hierarchy of Old New York. The last family Wharton talks about is the Van Der Luydens. She writes, "…the Van Der Luydens…stood above all of them.” Wharton explicitly
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Mr. Van Der Luyden then responded with their answer against the veto. This showed that the Van Der Luydens never reached a decision without consulting each other and their high status in Old New York society.
Another point where character analysis reveals more information about the Van Der Luydens happens during the party for Duke. The guests of the party all put on their best clothes and wore their best jewelry to not offend the social norms of the Van Der Luydens. This showed, once again their high status. Separately, the party itself discloses an additional trait about the Van Der Luydens: All the best china was laid out, the guests (in this case the Duke) were received with old-fashioned cordiality, and the doormen had the same uniform. These aspects of the party represented the Van Der Luyden’s strict adherence to Old New York society’s "rules and regulations."
Wharton’s characterization of the Van Der Luydens is extremely well written in the sense that even though they were not the focal characters of the story, we understood from them how the entire high class operated. Everything from their likeness to each other, to the strict observances of all of society’s proper etiquette showed that these two were standards that other people tried to be like. The Van Der Luydens, authorities on everything that was proper, were the ruling family of Old New York
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