The Age of Innocence

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REZA Fariha
24/10/12
The Age of Innocence (1920), Edith WHARTON (p. 41)
The characters
* In this excerpt, the first character is Mr. Newland Archer. He is married to Mrs. May Welland because on line 43, the narrator calls her by ‘his wife’. He seems to lead a well-off life since he gave to his wife ‘a small highly-varnished Verboeckhoven “Study of Sheep” ‘ (l. 13), which must be quite expensive. Besides, it should also have signified that they are a loving couple. Only I can observe that their relationship is not much fusional. Indeed, there isn’t any mark of affection at all between them in the whole text, and almost no conversation. So their relation is rather formal than real. Moreover, he has an affair with a lady called Ellen Olenska who is his wife’s cousin. In fact, they have known themselves since their childhood as the narrator mentions ‘he had danced with the little Ellen Mingott at children’s parties’ (l. 15-16). Therefore, they are ‘lovers’ (l. 40). Furthermore, I think his attitude evolves throughout the extract. Indeed, at the beginning, he seems calm, silent as ‘a crash drowned her husband’s answer’ (l. 10-11) and even a little bit submissive, he has to execute his wife’s orders (‘won’t you please take Ellen in?’ l. 21). Then, ‘amber beads […] reminded him’ (l. 15) memories of his childhood and he ‘remembered how he had kept his eyes fixed on it in the evening’ (l. 22-23), so that he becomes nostalgic. Finally, he looks to be at a complete loss, for instance he is in ‘a state of odd imponderability’, he ‘floats somewhere between chandelier and ceiling’ (l. 36-37) which emphasize the fact that he doesn’t understand anymore what is happening to him. Even, he feels trapped by ‘the harmless-looking people’, ‘a band of dumb conspirators’ (l.38), ‘an armed camp’ (l. 48). These facts make him an innocent character, so we can suppose he is the main character of the novel as it is entitled ‘The Age of Innocence’. * Mrs. May Welland is Mr....
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