By Edith Wharton
Edith Wharton’s darkish view of society, the somber economics of marriage, and the powerlessness of the unwedded girl within the 1870s emerge dramatically within the tragic novel The apartment of Mirth. confronted with an array of rich suitors, manhattan socialite Lily Bart falls in love with legal professional Lawrence Selden, whose loss of funds spoils their percentages for happiness jointly. doubtful enterprise bargains and accusations of liaisons with a married guy decrease Lily’s social prestige, and as she makes one undesirable selection after one other, she learns how venal and brutally unforgiving the higher crust of recent York could be.
One of America’s most interesting novels of manners, The condo of Mirth is a fantastically written and finally tragic account of the human capability for cruelty.
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7). Though aware that her behavior has always aroused speculation, she舗s tempted by the risk of entering his apartment, and he舗s delighted by the spontaneity of her consent. When she contrasts her luxurious way of life to the dingy existence of Selden舗s cousin Gerty Farish, Lily seems to him like a victim manacled to her fate. Lily, whose vocation is marriage, is very fond of Selden but doesn舗t want to marry him because he hasn舗t got enough money舒though he舗s sufficiently wealthy to sail suddenly down to Havana or across to Europe for important legal cases.
231). No one defends Lily after her cruel dismissal, though both Dorset and Carry Fisher later apologize for their cowardly behavior. Bertha has no moral scruples; Lily has far too many. Bertha is a Fury and avenger, yet Lily has committed no crime. Wharton makes her heroine the ironic embodiment of Aeschylus舗 great theme: suffering teaches wisdom. Lily returns to New York to find that Grace Stepney has told her aunt that Lily lost money gambling and that Gus Trenor has paid her bills, poisoning the severe and disapproving Julia Peniston against her.
Both taught her to worship wealth and trained her solely for marriage舒though she has no real desire to get married. Like Wharton herself, Lily has never had a mother舗s love. When the novel opens, Lily, an orphan with no mother to protect her, must look after herself. On Bertha舗s yacht in Monte Carlo, Lord Hubert tells Selden that Lily has an aunt in New York, but that New York is a long way off. By then, though Lily doesn舗t yet know it, her Aunt Julia Peniston has died, disinherited her, and left her with no place to live.