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Edith whartons the age of innocence essay

For a challenge, consider in a final paragraph what the functions of this duality between innocence and outright sin and the degradation of values might mean in the context of the society that so vehemently seems to desire to uphold a set of moral standards. Consider, for example, the theme of the individual versus society in the novel and how at once the strict social customs of the society are upheld as being the highest order that maintains society and structure yet then again, it is this same confining society that causes so much chaos in this text.

Throughout the novel, various characters emerge who challenge the strict order of society and while they face a great deal of opposition, they often are far more complex and frankly, more interesting to the reader than the characters who are a part of the old order. The most apparent example is the Countess Ellen Olenska who is undertaking the shocking task of divorcing her husband and moving, as an individual, to a country where she is unaware of the predominant custom and hierarchy and, more importantly, of what is and is not acceptable.

She represents the death of the old order by demonstrating that even a woman of high birth and marriage is breaking out of traditional modes of gender roles and behavior just as other minor characters, such as those with new wealth like the Beaufort family as well as Mrs. Mingott attempt to create an entirely new class with its own combination of old and new society. The new society that is emerging out the innocence with the death literal and metaphorical of families such as Mrs.

The Age of Innocence

Van der Luyden, is one that emphasizes expression and a more overt way of appreciating wealth. On the one hand, Newland Archer considers himself to be a man that appreciates the high social life that his society offers but inwardly, he recognizes it for being incredibly shallow and stifling. He often gives lip service to the idea that he is a man edith whartons the age of innocence essay is above others in his recognition of the fact that his society is out of touch with reality and that lives in a dream-world where any unpleasantness is ignored and true character is shunned in favor of conformity but on the other hand, he also embraces this society.

His impedning marriage to May Welland is one of the most symbolic acts he makes on behalf of upholding the values of a society he seems so often to scorn, which demonstrates that despite what he says, he is just as much a part of the society, if not more, than those he surrounds himself with.

A character analysis of Newland Archer should examine this duality in how he perceives and then backs up and represents some of the unpleasant aspects of his society and should conclude by offering an analysis of how, by choosing not to see the Countess years later, choosing instead to live in the dream world she inhabits in his own mind, he has succeeded in completely embracing his society. For example, the name May Welland indicates a bright summer day in well land.

In short, it is representative of her rosy view of life and her idealized depiction of femininity. The name Countess Ellen Olenska has an air of mystery and of being from foreign parts that cannot be identified by the name alone. Names such as Beauford are, just as the Beaufords, very common and do not descend from any royal line whereas names such as van der Luydens is unique and is related to names of Dukes and ambassadors.

In a broader context, names are important to this society in general as it represents the old order when the last name is associated with a certain social class.

Just who is innocent in the novel, The Age of Innocence?

Taglioni…there had never been a breath on her reputation" 11. Untrained human nature was not frank and innocent; it was full of the twists and defenses of an instinctive guile.

And he felt himself opposed by this creation of factitious purity, so cunningly manufactured by a conspiracy of mothers and aunts and grandmothers and long-dead ancestress, because it was supposed to be what he wanted…" 43. He longed to question her, to hear more about the life of which her careless words had given him so illuminating a glimpse; but he feared to touch on distressing memories… 61.

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. Used electronic text which can be found here http: