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The Age Of Innocence, By Edith Wharton

2466 words - 10 pages

Image is considered everything even in today’s society, because a person only gets to give a first impression one time when they meet someone new. One mistake can either ruin the persons reputation or have them viewed in a horrible fashion for the rest of there time with that particular group. A person is to dress their best, be their best, to show society that they are indeed the best. For example in the book May dresses up to meet Mrs. Carfry even though the party is not as formal as she suspected, because she did not want to appear as a savage. Even though Newland explains to her that it will be a small event she is determined to show them how much better she could be then them. It is to show her power, wealth, and also status in society. In society there are rules that must be followed for if they are broken the aristocrats shall look down upon them, and Wharton shows the rules from start to finish. In the begging Newland cannot arrive on time for it is improper and towards the end he cannot be with the Countess Olenska for she is not who society has deemed him acceptable to be with. Wharton focuses her novel on a period in time which society plays a key role in the community of New York’s citizen’s lives; it is also the ending period of the high New York class citizens due to the fact of the change coming into the northern states. Edith Wharton shows throughout the novel experiences from her own life as well as how women were beginning to change not only in there roles in society but in there right’s, she also uses the literary element of symbolism to express hidden meanings behind the characters traits as well as how they are to be viewed.
Through out the novel Edith puts her own experiences from life into her book The Age of Innocence. She was born on January 24, 1862 into a wealthy family that was high ranked in society, and after World War 1 she used her book to replicate a similar time in her childhood. “In a sense she tried to escape the vexations of the post-war years by commemorating a culture that she had known as a child” (McDowell 59.) Edith herself reported, “I found a momentary escape in going back to my childish memories of a long vanished America and wrote The Age of Innocence” (Bloom 102.) She uses her knowledge on how society views the people of its culture to create the scenes throughout the novel, such as in the begging when Newland mentions that “It is not the thing to arrive early at the Opera” (Wharton 6.) There are strict rules throughout society that must be followed such as who a person is allowed to marry. Wharton has personal experience in society’s role in marriage through her failed engagement to a wealthy young man. In 1880 Harry Stevens proposes to Edith Jones only to have it broken off two years later, because the mother did not approve of the engagement. Harry Stevens’s mother objected to the engagement for their “difference in status of the two families.” (McDowell 2) There is a similar...

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