Age of Innocence

Topics: Edith Wharton, Martin Scorsese, The Age of Innocence Pages: 5 (1358 words) Published: August 4, 2013

1. How is the description of the ‘sad, almost monosyllabic scene of parting’ in paragraph 3 and 4 significant? Who are we reminded of when the narrator details the actress’s costume?

Actor’s description: Is said to have romantic good looks

Similar to: Newland Archer

Actress’ description: She wore a grey cashmere dress which was simple and a narrow black velvet ribbon.

Similar to: May Welland

The scene in the play which Newland always goes to watch is significant as it symbolises the parting of Newland from Ellen. It shows us how Newland Archer perceives the occurrences between Ellen and him till then. It also gives us a sense of how Archer feels about the ‘leave-taking’ from Ellen as he gets very emotional and is deeply affected by it. It gives foreshadows his growing affections for Ellen.

2. Why does the narrator reveal that Archer ‘always’ watches The Shaughraun for the goodbye scene?
* Compares it to Paris and London, European countries. This shows his appreciation and preference for foreign/European style. Foreshadows growing emotions for Ellen as she is seen by most (including himself) as foreign/European.

* The play is staged in the theatre hence the theatre motif of old new york is present, representing May Welland and Newland Archer, people/products of Old New York.

* The goodbye scene reminded him of him leaving Ellen from her apartment ‘leave-taking from Madame Olenska’. This also foreshadows the relationship and the romantic interest of Ellen Olenska, drawing similarities between lovers parting and his own departure with Ellen.

3. From the entire passage what is being suggested about his desires and pretensions?

Recurring theme of Newland’s Idealism

What – Newland, throughout the novel, constantly idealizes himself to be a hero of sorts, with his damsel in distress being Ellen Olenska. ‘Wherein, then, lay the resemblance that made the young man’s heart beat with a kind of retrospective excitement?’ shows that Newland is always portraying himself to be the protagonist in his own idealistic fantasies, comparing himself to the heroes in the dramatic plays he watches and novels he reads. How – This shows that Newland, or more specifically, his personality and attitude, is very idealistic. It is his idealism to be a hero that has shaped him to become what he is today. Not just with Ellen, in the earlier parts of the book, he is shown also wanting to be a teacher of sorts to May. Thus, it gives Newland more credibility (and to an extent, rationale) for making the decisions that he does in the novel, such as falling in love with Ellen and almost breaking up with May. Why – Wharton simply does this to elaborate more on the character of Newland Archer. Being the protagonist, he carries an enormous weight on his shoulders, to convey Wharton’s themes, concerns and most importantly, her messages to the reader. And therefore, she fleshes his character out deeply in order for the reader to understand the themes and concerns better.

Wharton’s (repeated) usage of the theatre to represent Old New York Society What – From chapter 1, Wharton has used the setting of the theatre to act as a parallel to Old New York, a microcosmic community that reflects the behaviour of the community on a smaller scale. ‘In the galleries the enthusiasm was unreserved; in the stalls and boxes, people smiled a little at the hackneyed sentiments and clap-trap situations’ shows that the elite, ‘stalls and boxes’ behave very differently from the masses. How – Thus, even from 80 years ago, Wharton already presents the societal concern of income disparity. Throughout the play, she makes numerous references to how the rich and elite (the Rushworths, the Mingotts, the Archers and the Van der Luydens) are simply in a world of their own as compared to the lower income (but majority) families of New York. However, contrasting to their attitudes is ‘enjoyed the play as...
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