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Edith Wharton’s “House of Mirth” Analysis Coursework

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Updated: Jun 3rd, 2022

Edith Wharton’s “House of Mirth” is a masterpiece that focuses on the concept of survival-for-the-fittest. The book supports the idea that every society will have successful and unsuccessful people. The issue of human behavior is also portrayed from a realist perspective. The author seeks to support the argument that human happiness is something that can never be purchased (Wharton, 2002). The author uses different characters to analyze the evils and opportunities that define every society. The portrayal of different characters such as Lily Bart shows the irresponsibility, corruption, and immoral attributes associated with the society’s upper class (Wharton, 2002). As well, the protagonist is unable to get a desirable husband. This is something unexpected because Lily was educated, groomed, and raised to marry an economically-stable man. These aspects make Edith Wharton’s “House of Mirth” an inspirational novel that describes the realities associated with human life. People can therefore read this masterpiece to understand the opportunities, challenges, and issues affecting many people in every society

The book “House of Mirth” was written in 1905 by Edith Wharton. From the 1850s, different thinkers began to focus on the reality of things without any form of idealization. This practice led to the realism movement whereby many authors depicted various happenings, experiences, and events (Lelekis, 2004). The ultimate goal was to portray the society without any form of exaggeration or romanticization (Wharton, 2002). Many artists embraced the idea that hereditary factors, environmental forces, and social conditions reshaped people’s characters. This historical context is therefore supported by the themes in Edith Wharton’s novel. The experiences of Lily show how a person’s fate might not always be determined by his or her position in the society.

The biography of the author sheds much light to the ideas presented in the book. Edith Wharton was born in the upper-crust American society. She soon understood the social, political, and cultural issues that affected many Americans. Wharton was born in 1862. She later observed that the American society was associated with snobbism. She was also educated by tutors and governesses at home. She had the opportunity to read widely and write. She was later married to one of her brother’s friends. The two encountered numerous challenges such as intellectual incompatibility (Lelekis, 2004). The social issues encountered during the time were cruel. This knowledge made it easier for her to satirize the society in the novel. As well, she explored the sufferings encountered by many people in the American society. These issues define the lives and expectations of different social classes in the society.

This book therefore explores the theme of slavery vs. freedom. Realism was an intellectual period characterized by aspects of truth and survival. The author explores how money enslaves or frees individuals. As well, the theme shows how men are freer than women in the society. Women who lack money must look for successful husbands to take care of them. Lily’s experiences explain how the absence of money can result in slavery. Gender roles are also used to support this theme (Lelekis, 2004). For instance, Percy Gryce is free because of his gender. Lily, on the other hand, is never free because of her gender. This theme portrays the reality of things and situations encountered by many people during the period (Wharton, 2002). It is also notable that a person cannot run away from the realities associated with his or her surrounding environment. According to the text, the environment plays a major role towards dictating a person’s experiences, challenges, and opportunities.

This work is relevant to many readers today. It discusses how human beings have to deal with the problem of snobbery (Wharton, 2002). As well, people have to confront every gender stereotype affecting human development (Lelekis, 2004). The book shows how women are oppressed in the society. Modern-day readers should therefore acknowledge the major problems affecting different societies today. This approach will make it easier for them to present new practices that can promote human survival (Lelekis, 2004). The move will also reduce slavery and empower every person in the society.

The ideas obtained from this book have reshaped my views of realism. The masterpiece outlines the major challenges faced by many people from the mid 19th century. I have appreciated the novel because it satirizes such evils and offers new concepts that can empower more people (Lelekis, 2004). Although some people might be destined for failure, societies should embrace the best values in order to promote equality. People should therefore read this masterpiece in order to address the major issues facing them. I am therefore focusing on the best ideas in order to achieve my goals and lead a good life. I have also understood the major aspects of realism and how they shape our experiences. Human beings can also use the teachings presented by Edith Wharton in order to make their societies much better.

Reference List

Lelekis, D. (2004). Lily’s Dilemma: Opposing Principles in ‘The House of Mirth’. Scholar Commons, 1(1), 1-31.

Wharton, E. (2002). House of Mirth. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications.

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