This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Conformity In Edith Wharton's The Age Of Innocence

1577 words - 6 pages

The pressure of conformity affects individual expression and varies in degrees in which it impacts an individual’s life. Regardless of time period, conformity is able to force individualists to abide by the social standards inculcated into society and deemphasize the importance behind individualism. In the 1920s, New York City adopted a structure parallel to conformity in its figurative hierarchy after the grief and devastation of World War I. With fear of the unknown, a reestablishment of tradition and routine followed, including an adaptation to the use of silences. The individuals with class and power used silence as a vehicle to conform and unify but, free-willed individuals gave another purpose to silence. It became a tool to express the pitfalls of this new society. Edith Wharton analyzes the dual purpose of the silences through characters that represent different facets of views during the time. In the Age of Innocence,Wharton emphasizes Olenska and Archer’s silences to identify and criticize the invisible evils that lurk within the hierarchy of “old New York” and reveal the rationalization of a pretentious and delusional society.
Depicting the nature of a desperate society, Wharton reveals, in this seemingly extravagant social order, a fear of insecurity and change that constantly outlines the motives of each individual and the collective dream, the age of innocence, that is produced. This dream of ignorance evolves out of the grievances of the war due to the loss of culture and people. It impassions the masses to cling to material items and to bind together to support ruling out the unpleasant and rational as a mechanism to cope with crushing reality. At any rate, this principle contributes largely to their actions that “[engage] in pretending to each other that they had never heard, suspected, or even conceived” that reality along with emotions and change were near by; it blinded insight and suppressed awareness that inspires individuality (Wharton 125). Likewise, they continued to suppress the individual as they developed using silence as a method of control to build up their “class-conscious conservatism” that unknowingly evaded the moral standards of the modern time (Burt). New York was incapable of opening its eyes and finding meaning in its world; the people “could only look blankly at blankness,” unable to find purpose behind the unpleasant (Wharton 28). Society spreads unpleasantry through gossip and rumor to alienate different and innovative individuals to ultimately stifle the revelation of a changing world. Society reflects one of its pitfalls when involving itself in the infliction its own unpleasant nature on the individual, defeating its own initial purpose of censoring the disagreeable. The systems within society avoid the harsh truths of their lack of integrity while being hypocritical of their own principle; they continue to defend a false sense of security that existed within the boundaries of conformity. To accentuate...

Find Another Essay On Conformity in Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence

Edith Warton's The Age of Innocence

643 words - 3 pages The Stranger Within In Edith Warton’s novel, The Age of Innocence the main character Newland Archer has a complex personality that is filled with hidden desires and ideas; some of these ideas are controversial in the society that he lives in. The arrival of Ellen Olenska and the harsh realization of living in a boring society help expose these unseen traits. Newland Archer seemed like the typical wealthy New York bachelor. He took part in

The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton

2466 words - 10 pages 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

The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton

908 words - 4 pages end he has to choose one of the two, Newland sacrifices his happiness to maintain everyone's reputation. Just because of the way that he was raised, “with proper family values” Newland ends up marrying a woman his family accepts, May. As well one of the themes that Wharton presents in “The Age of Innocence” is hypocrisy within the society. The author presents the New York society during the 1870s that ignores reality and pretends to act

Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence

1853 words - 7 pages Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence “I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart.” These eternal words spoken in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather reflect the importance and prevalence of family allegiances. These allegiances transcend many different cultures, societies and environments. Every society has its own “Fredo”: the social outcast whose decisions make him or her the center of attention in society, and

Analysis of Edith Wharton´s The Age of Innocence

834 words - 4 pages is the American ideal of individualism and freedom. However, because of social determinism, Americans were not as “free” as they believed. The Age of Innocence is an excellent representation of the constant social trap that forced people to sacrifice themselves to the ever-imposing desire to always seem at their best. Wharton actually writes this novel in the 1920’s as a reflection back into Old New York. She herself comes from a family of

Subjectivity in Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth

1869 words - 7 pages Subjectivity in Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth      Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth presents an interesting study of the social construction of subjectivity. The Victorian society which Wharton's characters inhabit is defined by a rigid structure of morals and manners in which one's identity is determined by apparent conformity with or transgression of social norms. What is conspicuous about this brand of social identification

Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth

1959 words - 8 pages Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth serves as a strict model of etiquette for high society in the Gilded Age. It teaches one the intricate art of keeping up appearances and assimilating into the fickle leisure class. At the same time, the novel’s underlying purpose is to subtly critique this social order. Lily Bart’s perpetual, although often reluctant quest for financial stability and mass approval is a

The Responsibility of Ethan Frome for His Own Tragedy in Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome

3698 words - 15 pages The Responsibility of Ethan Frome for His Own Tragedy in Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome A: Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome, published in 1911, was a departure from her other works that were primarily concerned with the privileged New York Society and its hypocrisy. Critics have agreed that Ethan Frome was probably one of the most autobiographical of Wharton's works because it talked about an illicit affair while Wharton herself

Edith Wharton's use of Irony

1710 words - 7 pages social system he belonged to and believed in, the young girl who knew nothing and expected everything, looked back at him like a stranger through May Welland's familiar features; and once more it was borne in on him that marriage was not the safe anchorage he had been taught to think, but a voyage on uncharted seas." (The Age of Innocence 42-43). Now, the fact that he belonged to the exclusive New York group buries him and his future alive (Hadley 40

Point of View in Edith Wharton's "Souls Belated"

2002 words - 8 pages "Souls Belated," Edith Wharton uses point of view to illuminate the thoughts of each character individually, while concealing the thoughts of the other, and eventually to highlight the vastly different mindsets of both characters involved.Wharton first does this by revealing Lydia's thoughts to the readers while hiding Gannett's. At the exposition, the story is told in third person, from Lydia's point of view. This technique allows readers to see

The Age of Innocence

1465 words - 6 pages it. However, this is what the results will be if a society implements the acceptance of dishonesty instead of honesty. Finally, Wharton demonstrates through the separation of Archer and Ellen that people must put aside their personal desires for the greater good of the social dimension. Works Cited Evron, Nir. "Realism, Irony and Morality in Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence." Journal of Modern Literature 35.2 (2012): 37-51. JSTOR

Similar Essays

Edith Wharton's The Age Of Innocence

1211 words - 5 pages Edith Wharton was one of the best thinkers of her time. Not only did she criticize the society in which she grew up, but she did so in such a way that made it classy and more acceptable. The Age of Innocence is one of my favorite pieces of literature because Edith Wharton uses setting combined with complex characters to develop her personal theme of the conflict between nature and culture. Wharton's use of setting allows the reader to delve more

Edith Wharton's The Age Of Innocence

2042 words - 9 pages breath of New York high society, although its members did not sense the dramatic changes coming to their world” (Hadley11).1 Wharton, uses irony typically for a humorous effect. Irony is also used as an autobiographical effect. The role of irony in The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton is a major theme in Wharton’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel. Wharton uses the novel The Age of Innocence as a source of ironic twists that tie into her

Henry James' Daisy Miller And Edith Wharton's The Age Of Innocence

1001 words - 4 pages Both Daisy Miller by Henry James and The Age of Innocence, based on the novel by Edith Wharton are either social commentaries or love stories set in corrupt society. The male leads, Newland Archer and Winterbourne, help to show, assuming the goal is commentary, the dishonest and frivolous nature of society. Newland and Winterbourne’s stories and characters run on corresponding motives, as they are the offspring of that society

The Age Of Innocence By Edith Wharton

938 words - 4 pages The Age of Innocence Social classes have been imbedded into society ever since the establishment of a hierarchy. In The Age of Innocence written by Edith Wharton, Archer is a prime example of emptiness due to the injustice of the social class. Humanity becomes shallow when one focuses on material possessions to determine value or popularity. In The Age of Innocence, the author explores the life of high society in the early Victorian-Era New