House of Mirth Essay

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Discuss in detail how Edith Wharton uses character study, setting and symbolism to create effect in structuring the novel “The House of Mirth”. Identify and analyse the narrative and language techniques Wharton uses to bring the life of Miss Lily Bart effectively to her readers. Evaluate the effectiveness of the employment of setting and symbols and of narrative and language techniques to provide your judgement of the success of the novel.

The novel “The House of Mirth” by Edith Wharton uses characters, setting and symbolism to bring the character of Lily Bart to life. These techniques are also used to convey how Lily, the protagonist, survives in an upper class society and dealing with the rich, while searching for a husband.

Lily Bart is a 29-year-old attractive woman. Despite her beauty, social and family ties, she is not married. She usually attends extravagant parties thrown by Judy Trenor which is attended by the majority of New York’s upper-class. This is where Lily develops financial issues because she is a gambling addict and events like these usually involve playing bridge for money. Throughout the story Lily looks for a wealthy husband, hoping to relieve her financial burden and secure her place in the high class society. However, she finds a few potential husbands, but ends up denying them because she believes she can find a better man. During her search, her relationship with Lawrence Selden turns into love, but he is not wealthy enough for her. Gus Trenor lends her some money in turn for her to spend time with him, but she avoids being alone with him. Lily now had to find a way to pay Trenor back but fails in getting a loan from her aunt who she was staying with, Mrs Peniston, because she is appalled at Lily’s gambling debts. Later, Bertha Dorset invites Lily on a cruise to the Mediterranean with her and her husband, George, but it is soon discovered that Bertha invited Lily to distract George while she ran off with Ned Silverton. However,...
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