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 all of the proper etiquette that was expected of him. He made a limited number of visits to Europe, dined with the finest people, dated the prettiest girl and attended the newest operas. Underneath this exterior lived the heart of an adventurer, a radical. Inside Newland knew that the life he was required to lead was boring; he knew that the view his society had of women was oppressive. Newland rarely let these opinions out into the open, hiding them from the scrutinizing eyes of old New York.
On one occasion Newland threw caution to the wind and his radical thoughts became voice as he was talking with Mr. Sillerton Jackson. “Women ought to be free-as free as we are, he declared, making a discovery of which he was too irritated to measure the terrific consequences. (41)” Ellen was the women Newland was referring to.
An outcast from society Ellen was looked down upon; everyone loathed her, except Newland; he saw the predicament that she was in. Newland liked her outlandish ways; he admired her love of art and her ability to be different from everyone else. Until Ellen arrived Newland did not realize how bored he was of the monotonous lifestyle he had been living. Newland thought to himself on an opera night, “The same faces, the same scene…the same...