Contradiction Between Innocence and Individuality in the Age of Innocence

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  • Topic: The Age of Innocence, Sociology, Edith Wharton
  • Pages : 17 (6517 words )
  • Download(s) : 54
  • Published : November 26, 2011
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CONTENTS

|ABSTRACT……………………………………………………………………… |2 | |摘要……………………………………………………………………………… |3 | |1 Introduction…………………………………………………………………… |4 | |2 Individuality and Innocence in The Age of Innocence………………………… |6 | |2.1 Ellen’s Individualistic Qualities………………………………………… |7 | |2.2 May’s Artificial Innocence……………………………………………… |10 | |2.3 Contradiction between Individuality and Innocence…………………… |12 | |3 Old New York Society in The Age of Innocence……………………………… |14 | |3.1 The Social Values of Old New York Society…………………………… |15 | |3.2 Attitude toward Ellen’s Individuality…………………………………… |16 | |3.3 Attitude toward May’s Innocence……………………………………… |17 | |4 Conclusion……………………………………………………………………… |18 | |BIBLIOGRAPHY………………………………………………………………… |20 |

ABSTRACT

Edith Wharton is acknowledged as one of the most important American female writers in the early 20th century, who produced many works of different types such as novels, poems, critic essays, travelling diaries and autobiographies. The Age of innocence, the most successful work, made her the first woman win Pulitzer Prize in 1921. Ellen Olenska and May Welland, are two female protagonists in The Age of Innocence. Through analysis on the comparison between different personalities of these two protagonists and society’s different attitudes towards them, the author of this paper attempts to argue that the conventionality of society is much weightier than the pursuit of individuality in that given era, yet the individuals, especially women should step out their circumscribed roles to realize their unique identity.

Key Words: The Age of Innocence, individuality, innocence, convention

Contradiction between Innocence and Individuality
in The Age of Innocence

1 Introduction
Edith Wharton, novelist and writer of short fiction, was born into a carefully guarded upper class of New York society in 1862 and died in 1937. Her parents, George Jones and Lucretia Rhinelander, were from two aristocratic families that dominated New York society. Both her father’s and mother’s family protected her in the New York Four Hundred[1]. Though born in New York, Wharton was transformed by European culture and tradition because she once lived in France, Italy, Germany and Spain between the age of four and ten. She herself insisted that after she returned to New York at the age of ten, she “never felt otherwise than as in exile in America.” So deeply influenced by both European and American culture, Wharton produced a great number of fictions with the background of New York society and European experience. During her lifetime, Wharton published numerous works as a writer, including 86 short stories, 11 collections of short fiction, 22 works of large fiction, 3 collections of poetry, books on architecture and gardens, a travel book, a critical study called The Writing of Fiction, and an autobiography A Backward Glance. Wharton achieved great accomplishment as a female writer in American literary history. Her most productive period as a novelist began with the...
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